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Durham University

Open World Research Initiative (OWRI)

Transnational Theatre: 'New Drama' in the Post-Soviet Russophone Space

The project investigates the development of Russophone theatre, specifically ‘New Drama’, in East-European Russian-speaking environments since the beginning of the present century. It examines the links and bonds which saw experimental drama in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus develop along a common path between roughly 2000 and 2010, with shared workshops, festivals and competitions as well as stagings ensuring that radical new developments in the form, language and content of Russian drama were disseminated widely across post-Soviet national borders. This includes an investigation of the use of Russian in a specific cultural context, namely theatre, but across different national and political spaces (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus).

Political events since 2010 have served to cut these nations off from one another, with national as well as linguistic boundaries being re-imposed in recent years. The project thus also considers how repertory and directorial choices have been shaped by external events in recent years. In this context, it has (in phase 2 of the project) examined especially representations of homosexuality and gender identity in this drama as a controversial benchmark for the new pressures constraining artistic, social and legal spheres in Russia today.

The project, led by Professor Julie Curtis (University of Oxford), also includes as researchers Professor Philip Bullock (University of Oxford) and Dr Noah Birksted-Breen, translator, director and playwright, whose Sputnik Theatre, based in London, focuses on staging modern Russian drama.

See report on all activities carried out during the first, seedcorn, phase of the project (01.10.2016 - 30.10.2017).

See report on all activities carried out during the second, core, phase of the project (01.11.2017 - 30.09.2019).

For more information about this project contact:


6-7 June 2019

Staging Queer Lives in Russia and Ukraine, Wolfson College, University of Oxford.

11 November 2017

Overstepping Transnational Boundaries: 21st-century Theatre and Drama panel at the 49th ASEEES annual convention in Chicago.

6-7 April 2017

Playwriting without Borders, Wolfson College, University of Oxford. See poster, programme and review.