Resisting Empire: Theatre in Ukraine, 19th–21st centuries
Dr. Mayhill Fowler, Stetson University
Saturday, May 13, 2023
The Ukrainian Museum of Canada
910 Spadina Crescent E, Saskatoon, SK
From itinerant troupes performing under the Tsars to today’s artists making art in a time of war, theater in Ukraine has always resisted empire. This talk explores three stories of theatrical resistance: the first professional Ukrainian-language theater and its star, Maria Zankovetska, who created successful careers in the Russian Empire and a counter-narrative to imperial culture. Second, Les Kurbas and his Berezil theater used cultural connections with Europe to create a theater that was Soviet, but that was also Ukrainian. Finally, after the Revolution of Dignity new laws—and a new generation—ended the Soviet legacy in the arts, creating theater for a democratic Ukraine. These artists are still creating theater today, in war. Ultimately this talk tries to counter many ideas about “Russian” culture, showing how important it is to decolonize our thinking, to reconstruct center and periphery, and to explore the texture of place more fully to capture artistic creativity.
Dr. Mayhill C. Fowler is an associate professor in the Department of History at Stetson University. She has published widely on culture in Ukraine, including her book Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine (Toronto, 2017). She is currently finishing a book on women in theater in Ukraine across the long 20th century and re-thinking a project on Soviet military theater. She has held fellowships at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the University of Toronto, and she was a Fulbright scholar to Ukraine 2019-2020. She is an affiliated researcher with the Center for Urban History in Lviv and affiliated faculty in the Program in Theater Studies at Ivan Franko National University. She is also a former actress.
Moderator: Dr. Oksana Dudko, the Prairie Center for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage, St. Thomas More College