28 Dec 2015

Bulgarian dramaturgical canon

01 December, 2014 – 01 January, 2018

Author: Prof. Nikolay Yordanov, PhD, Theatre Department

The formulation of the subject has two argumentations. First of all, it is in conformity with the main goal of the Theatre Department: studying the history of Bulgaria’s theatre, of which the history of Bulgarian drama is a significant part. At the same time it is oriented towards tracing the socio-cultural and theatre context, which supposes certain priorities and valuing.
The debate on what should be deemed to be ‘classical’ in Bulgarian dramaturgy was ignited as early as the period between the two world wars. Following the World War 2, a set of texts about theatre was officialised, recorded mainly in examination syllabi and specialized training programmes. Naturally, this ‘canonization’ was reflected also in the repertoire choices and critical reflections. Following 1989, changes were gradually made in the dramatic canon: some authors and dramaturgical texts were eliminated, other were incorporated; specialised training courses also offered a new reading of the history of Bulgarian drama. Eventually, the challenge remained to formulate which texts were ‘significant’ to the history of Bulgarian drama from the vantage point of the twenty-first century. The latter is crucial both to recording the history of Bulgaria’s theatre and to drama education in the foreseeable future.
The study intends to cover the following aspects of the thus proposed subject:
– Tracing the public debate, the socio-cultural context and the phased ‘canonization’ of dramaturgical texts in the twentieth century;
– Analysis of specific drama works whose timelessness has been proven over the decades through theatre practices and critical reflection. In this case, the validity of such plays will be sought both through using tools of contemporary notions of staginess and through the possibility that these might be of interest to a perception that is not necessarily familiar with the Bulgarian historical metanarrative. Without pretending to be exhaustive at this stage, this analysis will cover platys by Petko Todorov, Peyo Yavorov, Yordan Yovkov, Racho Stoianov, Yordan Radichkov, Konstantin Iliev, Boyan Papazov, Margarit Minkov, Georgi Gospodinov, Yana Borisova, etc.
The sources that need to be studied in connection with the proposed subject are, as follows:
– The public debate about Bulgarian drama, basic reflections;
– Examination syllabi and specialised courses in the history of Bulgarian drama at the school of the National Theatre before 1948, at NATFA and the Institute of Art Studies in the decades until 1989; at other educational institutions offering drama courses following 1989;
– The texts themselves, which will be chosen for their brilliant achievements in the respective periods of the history of Bulgarian drama: both their genesis, and their (re)interpretation by stage and critical practices in the years following their composing.
The practical orientation of the study is in that it is intended for drama education and students and doctoral students and for the repertoire policy of the Bulgarian theatres in the selection and understanding of Bulgarian plays,
The implementation of such a project would provide an opportunity to publish as a book at a later stage.