28 Dec 2015

**The art of acting in Bulgaria between the mid-1950s and the late 1960s

01 January, 2014 – 01 February, 2016

Author: Assoc. Prof. Joanna Spassova-Dikova, PhD, Theatre Department

The project seeks to explore dramatics of Socialist Era from a contemporary point of view, chalking out the major processes, problems and trends. In this case we are searching to examine the aesthetical, psychological, social, cultural and political aspects of the dynamism of actor-environment interaction, which have defined the stages of the development of dramatics in this country, the specific methods of work, the approach to the roles, the work with directors, public perception of the characters, the creation of actors’ image, innovation and so on in the context of the entire European drama and cultural development and in the complicated political, social and cultural situation in Bulgaria between the 1950s and 1960s.
An important impetus to the development of Bulgarian drama and the art of acting during that period was the establishing of a network of new theatres in the capital, alternative to the National Theatre. In Sofia, Youth Theatre established as early as 1945 and the Army Theatre, set up in 1950, gained momentum. Satire Theatre (1957) and Theatre 199 (1965), where actors from different companies played, were of paramount importance to the development of Bulgarian drama and the art of acting, along with the Theatre of Poetry and Variety in 1966 (spanning one year only), Sofia Theatre (1966), Tear and Laughter Theatre (1967), etc. The ‘thaw period’ in Bulgarian drama was connected to a large extent with the stagings of these companies as well as with some of the ones outside Sofia, i.e. those in Burgas, Varna, Dimitrovgrad, Dobrich, Pazardjik, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sliven, Haskovo, etc., where ‘like-minded people’ started gathering as early as the mid-1950s. These new premises allowed for experimenting with new drama forms and acting techniques.
The study seeks mostly to systematically explore and examine a significant aspect of the art of acting in Bulgaria following WWII within the framework of the multi-authored project of Theatre Department, Institute of Art Studies, BAS to write the fifth volume of the history of Bulgarian theatre of the late twentieth century, problematic and thematic module Art and Authority. The Art of Socialism.
The relevance of the research ought to be sought in the necessity to rethink from a contemporary point of view the ideas, stereotypes and clichés accumulated over the decades of the development of dramatics in this country in the Socialist era on grounds of studying and analysing both the existing body of texts such as studies, memoirs, diaries, archival documents, verbatim report of sessions of academic councils, monographs, feature stories, portrayals, reviews and articles in the periodicals, interviews, etc., as well as the available iconographic and audiovisual documents geared towards rewriting the history of the art of acting in Bulgaria under Socialism.