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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.

The project, carried out by Julie Curtis (University of Oxford), also draws upon the expertise and assistance of translator, director and playwright Noah Birksted-Breen, 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).

For more information about this project contact:


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.

This is a two-day conference on 21st-century Russian-language playwriting in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It addresses the following topics in particular: contemporary playwriting as a sphere for political debate; the transnational nature of contemporary playwriting in Russian; the role of festivals and competitions; the language(s) of contemporary playwriting; developments in theatrical form and the use of technology; the role of documentary and verbatim theatre; the role of cultural policy; censorship and self-censorship.