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Theatrical Landscape of Bulgaria

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Theatrical Landscape of Bulgaria
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A generation of authors write in the perspective of postmodern philosophy: Georgi Gospodinov (*1968), Georgi Tenev (*1969), Plamen Dojnov (*1969). They open up a new perspective on Bulgarian drama. The heritage of socialism was a part of the great inheritance of modernism, this is displayed in the prototypes of dramas which are performed. This is most noticeable in the play "D.J." (2003) by Gospodinov, one of the authors who has been of great importance in Bulgarian literature for the past 20 years. The author doesn't even describe it as a play, but as a "theatrical scratch". Just as "scratching" produces new music in a discotheque, the theatrical way of swirling around motives of the myths of Don Juan is supposed to create a new drama. The play was performed in Sofia as well as in Graz. The other author Georgi Tenev gave his texts ("Somnium Ulixis", "Atoll", "Grand Prix Europe", "Best European Radio Drama) form by using puns. Psychological theatre was marginalised and Stanislawski fell into a coma.

Reform ends in argument
A group of Bulgarian playwrights kept up the tradition of psychological drama, but the wide perspective was dropped. The plays of Jurij Datchev (*1963), Theodora Dimova (*1960), Jana Dobreva (*1962) and Petja Russeva(*1968)  focus on private stories. None of them gave up the linear fable.

After the fall of the communistic state the theatre system was left with insufficient financing, which only sustained the function of the building. The reform that started in the nineties and was supposed to free the theatres of state financing and partial sale to the communities, ended with a crash. The new directions were created in the midst of the dissolving state theatre structures. The first private theatre "La Strada" went bust. The famous Sfumato theatre is financed by the government, even though it aliments itself by means of European Projects. The system of the repertoire theatre has been maintained.

Missing the new is typical
The attitude that has won through since 1998, is the strive for pleasure and comfort, which is why I call it hedonistic. Although the stage directors who it's about are the leading names, the missing of the new is typical for the new situation. All in all the meanwhile known styles and the typical practises of the nineties dominate, whereby the development of dance theatre with the performances by Galina Borissova, Mila Iskrenova, Tatjana Setchanova, Rosen Michailov, Violeta Vitanova, Stanislav Genadiev must be added.

In straight theatre the interest in traditional genres was reanimated. In a new medialised version Stanislawski awoke from his coma. The present preference of Bulgarian theatre has to be considered in the context of the crucial cultural changes. The medialisation of the public, the expansion of entertainment culture as an effect of globalisation, the internet and new social classes have lead to different behaviours and a new attitude towards art. The arts are marginalised as a whole.

The leading idols, behaviour models and values were formed by the media and entertainment programmes. There is a new, hybrid audience at the theatres which differs in social classes and in ages, but don’t have a preference for a particular kind of theatre. Going to the theatre is a form of therapy and getaway. The critical thinking theatre is the least popular. As for the future? Meanwhile a new generation is making an advance on global reality and the global crisis, and we are expecting their theatre.

Back to the beginning

Read more about Alek Popov.

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