Maria Helena Serôdio[1]

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Perhaps the key to the four essays included in this issue of Critical Stages is the acknowledgement that theatre is a meeting place not only for the arts in general, but also for people who come together to see how theatre may represent the world or, more precisely, how it refashions the world (and ourselves) according to critical stands, artistic procedures, intercultural negotiations and – sometimes – wishful thinking.

Maria Shevtsova, in a very illuminating appraisal, elaborates on the ten performances presented in Berlin – at the Theatertreffen 2012 – that gathered some of the most prestigious directors and offered inspired productions. Some classics were revisited leading to performances that were a real challenge to audiences. It was the case of Faust I & II, directed by Nicolas Stemann (Thalia TTheater, in Hamburg), that was eight hours and a half long, or of John Gabriel Bokmann, in a German and Norwich co-production, directed by Vegard Vinge, Ida Müller and Trond Reinholdsten. In this latter case, more relevant than the time it lasted (around 12 hours) it was the provocation of some of the scenes that could target at a recent and most painful experience as the massacre in the island of Utøya near Oslo.

Other trends of contemporary theatre were included in the festival as was the case of a nostalgic reenactment of both classical and contemporary dramas (as those recalling Sarah Kane’s universe or Chekhov’s Platonov, directed, respectively, by Johan Simons and Alvis Hermanis), as well as documentary drama, the aesthetics of the ugly, “post-dramatic” agendas, or a political reconsideration on the genocide in Rwanda [2].

The meeting point evoked by Patrice Pavis in his essay is the gallery at KEPCO Art Centre in Seoul, South Korea. He reports on the multimedia installation created by Park Eunyoung and proves how it offered the visitor unexpected interactions and confrontations of different arts: film, video, visual arts, poetry, animated photographs or music did come together, thus creating hybrid art forms and alluring atmospheres. Focusing on the body (mostly the feminine body) in different situations of joy, love and violence, it allowed the visitor to compose his/her own dramaturgy according to very personal sensitivities.

Margareta Sörenson recalls the centennial of Strindberg’s death – celebrated in 2012, even if with little or no support by the Swedish government – and questions his presence in today’s theatre. And one of the points she stresses is not only his broad scientific interests (including anthropology and psychology) and the political debate he engaged in, but also his varied and outstanding artistic program that included poetry, novels, theatre, painting, photograph, etc. But it is his approach to modernism and his interest in shadow plays and puppetry – with a keen eye on Kasper as popular mass culture – that would prove to be decisive in his cross-over “Gesamtkunstwerk” as part of his work as a playwright and theatre director.

Manabu Noda argues how cultural identity can be retrospectively formed and negotiated through traditional theatre as the archive of historical gazes. It is important to note how this identity has been negotiated with other cultures and how this may also prove to work as the “other” within the Japanese in general.


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[1] Maria Helena Serôdio is Full Professor at the Faculty of Letters, University of Lisbon, where she directs the post-graduate Program on Theatre Studies. She has published widely on English and Portuguese Drama, Comparative Studies and Theatre Studies in various national and international journals, newspapers and collective books, and is the Director of the Portuguese theatre journal Sinais de cena, co-published by the Portuguese Association of Theatre Critics and the Centre for Theatre Studies. She is the President of the Portuguese Association of Theatre Critics and directs a research project at the Centre for Theatre Studies of the University of Lisbon (CETbase, an online extensive data basis of theatre in Portugal (http://ww3.fl.ul.pt/CETbase/) She has edited several books on theatre and is author of, among others, William Shakespeare: A sedução dos sentidos (William Shakespeare: Seducing the Senses). Lisboa: Cosmos, 1996, and Questionar apaixonadamente: O teatro na vida de Luís Miguel Cintra (Passionately questioning: The Theatre in Luís Miguel Cintra’s Life). Lisboa: Cotovia, 2001, and A República das Artes: Teatro (The Republic of the Arts: Theatre), Lisboa: Tugaland, 2010.
[2] In 2000, the Belgian theatre company Groupov staged a brilliant and moving performance on the genocide – Rwanda 94 – directed by Jacques Delcuvellerie. A special double issue of Alternatives théâtrales was dedicated to the production (N. 67-68): Rwanda 94. Le théâtre face au genocide. Groupov, récit d’une création. More recently, a film directed by Marie-France Collard, recalling the presentation of that performance in Rwanda in 2004 (ten years after the genocide) was released: Rwanda: À travers nous, l´humanité (2006).


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