Understanding National snd Political Identity in Germany and Soviet Russia through Theatre

    • Cover Porto 2017
    • Presentation speakers
      • Hannah Meiklejohn, UWTSD / Lampeter University, UK


    This paper critically evaluates the role theatre plays in forming or constructing identity in the nation states of Russia and Germany, from the early Soviet period to the Second World War. The playwrights throughout this piece formed their theatrical practice during times of conflict and social upheaval. This clash of politics and art forms the basis of this paper. Conflict between individual and collective identities plays a significant part in our understanding of identity. This is an interpretation that pushes to the centre the dynamic between individual and society. Collective and individual identities are subject to change and develop often as a result of outside factors such as politics and culture, shaping and constructing our identities. Political identity is an affiliation with a particular political ideology. The ideology in this paper is concentrated on socialism and communism. This paper pays attention to political identity, through German and Russian plays from the early Soviet period to the Second World War, and examines them in the context of the political statements of the playwrights. This includes a close analysis of two of Brecht’s plays, and plays by Gorky, Forsh and Mayakovsky. Playwrights who denied the dictates of the dominant national ideologies (in Russia and Germany) were often exiled. This conflict between artist and state can be viewed through the plays themselves. Political communist identity is reflected in the characters they create. By concentrating communist or anti-communist identity and how it has been perceived in both countries, this paper reveals how the construction of identity is dependent upon the cultural context in which the individuals find themselves.