Theater: Catharsis through Provocation and Performance?
3 August 2013

On August 3, 2013 the Center for Urban History hosted the workshop "Culture at the Crossroads of Cultures: Challenges and Experiences in Approaching the Past"

The aim of the workshop was to discuss how contemporary culture and art use, reflect and refer to the multicultural heritage, and what is the role of contemporary culture and arts in "approaching the past," and dealing with "difficult history." 

Panel Four. Theater: Catharsis through Provocation and Performance?

The ethnic groups of Galicia - Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews - each had their own theater, their own buildings, repertoire, and theatrical traditions. Uncovering the way that a multi-ethnic society shaped those individual ethnic cultures is by now almost impossible. Still, several cultural initiatives have used theater as a way of recapturing the multi-ethnic past and/or as a way of exploring tensions between ethnic groups.

The main focuses of the discussion were: How can theater build bridges between ethnic groups, or does it simply reinforce walls? How can theater - by its very nature not a mass media - reach a larger audience? What about popular favorites, such as the adaptations of Sholem-Aleichem's Tevye stories as the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof or the Bohdan Stupka vehicle Tevye-Molochnyk? Do these works perpetuate stereotypes of Jews and Russian-Jewish relations, or can they provide a bridge to appreciating the multi-cultural past and accepting the Jewish past as part of the Ukrainian past?


Joanna Wichowska, editor of the theatre department in, curator of the project East European Performing Arts Platform (Warsaw)
Serhiy Perekrest,
Oksana Dudko,
Center for Urban History / Drabyna Festival (Lviv)
Svitlana Oleshko,
Arabesky Theater (Kharkiv)

Moderator: Mayhill Fowler (Stetson University)

The workshop program is available here.

The workshop was conducted in conjunction with the summer school "Jewish History and Multicultural Past of East Central Europe: Societies, Cultures and Heritage" .