In her talk, Professor Māra Ķimele will share her 20-year-long experience in educating theatre directors in Latvia. Her paper will analyse a broad range of pedagogical approaches to the training of professional skills and to the development of students’ individual qualities. She will introduce the 4-year BA study programme in Theatre Directing at the Latvian Academy of Culture, discussing, alongside other issues, the methodology of dramaturgical analysis, development of compositional skills, and training of psychological qualities of future directors. The presentation will compare approaches to theatre director training under different social and political systems, examining the legacy of the Soviet tradition of theatrical education and the new trends and methods that have emerged during the decades that have passed since Latvia regained its independence. Māra Ķimele will also offer her views on different forms of the profession of theatre director – from a violent despot to a hysteric genius, from an artist to a businessman, from a professional to a human being, hoping to engage in a dialogue with participants of the conference.
My presentation will try to comment on specific aspects and changes that the Polish theatre witnessed in the last decade. The theoretical point of reference for these reflections are two groundbreaking essays on theatre written by Walter Benjamin, devoted to proletarian children’s theatre and to Brechtian epic theatre. This juxtaposition of two different historical realities will allow me to put the transformations of the Polish theatre in the broad context of philosophical and political reflections on the role of time, space, and gesture in the theatrical process, which I will consider as a process of inherent pedagogy, diffused instruction. The working hypothesis of the presentation is that a crucial change that occurred in the last decade of Polish theater productions could be described as a shift from the model of political engagement expressed through the content of performances to a model of sensible experiments. Paradoxically, this change could be described – in Benjamin’s terms – as a move from epic theatre to proletarian theatre. This, in turn, will create an opportunity to discuss the long duration and continuous evolution of the forms of revolutionary culture.
The text has been losing its dominance in theatre performance, along with it its bearer – the character, as well as its fundamental component – the dialogue. The same applies to the conflict, the situation based on it, and its resolution – the plot. As an inevitable consequence, the dramatic text has been sidelined, if not entirely divested of its importance. The director, seen by Craig as the proclaimed unique creator of a performance, as well as an interpreter of the playwright’s ideas, is burdened not only by the living and present playwright, but also – and occasionally even more so – by the dead classic and in particular the petrified form of his work – the drama. Theatre theory and practice have been trying to discard the baggage of the Aristotelian literary theatre (Dupont’s Aristotelian vampirism) and have been pursuing manifestations freed from this burden – the theory via searching through the history of theatre, the practice by finding forms that would help it deconstruct the bloodthirsty Aristotelian canons.