This thesis explores the dialogue between William Shakespeare, Central and Eastern Europe during the Soviet experiment, and the power of performance as protest. Politically inflected plays that are transnational appropriations of Shakespeare were aimed to subvert state-sanctioned censorship in order to enforce public socio-political interrogations of the Communist Party. My research first established a foundation for the site-specific historical and political context from which the interpretations stem, before examining the texts themselves as pieces of cultural resistance. I focused on four appropriations of Shakespeare’s plays, one being a rewrite of Richard III and three being rewrites of Hamlet: Nedyalko Yordanov’s The Murder of Gonzago from Bulgaria, Matei Visniec’s Richard III Will Not Take Place or Scenes from the Life of Vsevolod Meyerhold from Romania, Géza Bereményi’s Halmi, or the Prodigal Son from Hungary, and finally Boris Akunin’s Hamlet, A Version, a contemporary example of the lasting strength of Shakespearean appropriations. My research essentially followed the question of how countries from the Soviet bloc viewed its own contexts through the Shakespearean prism, as well as the phenomenon of political indictments being historically communicated through theater. I also examined how cultural representatives, for the purpose of this project being playwrights and dramatic performers, employ historically separate material to address the present issues. Ultimately, by researching pre- and post-communist dramas written within the architecture of Shakespeare, an understanding of the role and power of the artist in the political landscape can be attained.
- Comrade Shakespeare: An Analysis of Theatrical Appropriations as Resistance in the Soviet Bloc
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