PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-1124

Project title: Metadrama, Memory, Identity in Concentrationary Theatre
Project code: PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2016-1124
Time frame: 10.10.2018 – 09.10.2020
Funding authority: Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI)
Approved budget: 241.270,00 lei
Project team
Dr. Dana MONAH – Project Leader (Al. I. Cuza University of Iasi, Faculty of Letters, French Department); danamonah@yahoo.fr
Professor Simona MODREANU – Postdoctoral advisor (Al. I. Cuza University of Iasi, Faculty of Letters, French Department)
Project abstract
The plays and performances discussed in this project feature political prisoners who play theatre or create secondary fictions as a response to the concentrationary reality, as articulated in the two totalitarian systems that haunted 20th century Europe: Nazism and Communism. While they do spring from a practice that occurred in concentration camps (plays were written and performed in Nazi camps, often taking the form of cabaret or puppet performances), all these texts belong to a post-genocide theatre, and are written by survivors (Delbo, Visky, Semprun), by second or third generation survivors (Egeryari, Kalisky) – the generation of postmemory, according to Marianne Hirsch – or by dramatists and directors not personally connected with the phenomenon (Sobol, Visniec).
The main objective of the project is to provide a framework for understanding the ways in which Holocaust and Eastern-European Gulag drama and performance use metatheatrical devices in order to approach memory and identity issues, in relation to the concentrationary experience. I will set out to map the metatheatrical devices encountered in these plays and explore how they shape the identities of performers and (fictional) audience, in order to examine how the key features of these techniques articulate the authors’ response to issues of representation, postmemorial reconconstruction, loss and guilt. Furthermore, I will aim at mapping out the evolution of theatrical responses as we move away from the traumatic experience.

Objectives
The main objective of this project is providing a framework for understanding the ways in which Holocaust and Eastern-European Gulag drama and performance use metatheatrical devices in order to approach memory and identity issues, in relation to the concentrationary experience. I will examine how the key features of these techniques articulate the authors’ response to issues of representation, postmemorial reconconstruction, loss and guilt, and will map out the evolution of the responses as the traumatic experience becomes more and more remote in time.

Expected Results
The project will open up a new perspective on the ways in which concentrationary dramatic literature and performance uses the paradigm of the theatrical fiction to explore its relationship with a traumatic experience. It will emphasize the role of fiction and theatrical play in creating meaning where it there is no meaning, in making sense of the extreme evil, as acting and creating fictional worlds through acting enables fictional characters to creatively negotiate their identities. The adaptation of the possible worlds theories in order to investigate concentrationary theatre will enable me to propose a new, better understanding of the fictional structures shaped by the fictional characters in the framing play. The results of the project will be presented in international conferences and will be published in scientific journals and collective volumes, in Romania and abroad.

Project Plan
Stage I, part 1: mapping out the metadramatical devices used in plays and performances (October – December 2018)
Task I.1: update of the theoretical framework (metafiction, the play-within-the-play device)
Task I. 2: a survey of available theoretical literature on Holocaust and Gulag drama and performance
Task I. 3: enlarging and classifying the text and performance corpus; documentation on available recordings of performances
Dissemination of results in international conferences
8-9 November 2018: International conference The Circulation of Shakespeare’s Plays in Europe’s Borderland
Paper: Shakespeare’s Text as Trauma-Rewriting Device in Post-Communist Drama

Stage II. (January-December 2019)
Mapping out the metadramatical devices used in plays and performances (stage I, part 2)
Fluctuating identities and power relations in concentrationary theatre: actor/ spectator/ director – ethical and aesthetic aspects
Task II. 1: enlarging and classifying the text and performance corpus (part 2)
Task II. 2: proposing a typology of the inner fictions: original plays vs. plays of the literary canon; narration (phantom-plays), improvisational theatre, rehearsal, play-within-the play; puppet theatre; comedy vs. tragedy/ grotesque; voluntary/ clandestine vs. forced performance; adaptation techniques of canonical plays
Task II. 3: elaborating a taxonomy: theatres of presence vs. theatres of memory (prison theatre/memory theatre/ “loose barbed wire” theatre)
Task II. 4: update of the theoretical framework of the project (possible worlds theory, metalepsis, theories of theatrical relation)
Task II. 5: “theories” of the embedded concentrationary performance: players’ attitude towards the performance, reasons for the inset performance
Task II. 6. examining constructions of identity through drama techniques: actors’ and directors’ identity; metalepsis as identity-rewriting device
Task II. 7. examining constructions of identities through drama techniques: spectator/ spect-actors’ identities: participant/witness/ critic; empathy and distanciation

Results:
Published works:
Article: Dana Monah, „Guilty Memories: Remembering the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Concentrationary Theatre”, in Colocvii teatrale/Theatrical colloquia, nr. 28, 2019, p. 30-39.ISSN 2285 – 5912 și ISSN-L 1584 – 4927(online) (Revista ERIH+, indexată CEEOL, EBSCO, SCIPIO)
Article: Dana Monah, „Fragile Fictions: Shakespeare and Musset in Concentrationary Theatre”, in Agathos: An International Review of the Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 11, issue 1, 2020. (Revistă ERIH+, indexată EBSCO, ProQuest) ISSN: 2069-1025; e-ISSN: 2248-3446 (to be published).
Article: Dana Monah, „Théâtres en lambeaux. Ebauches de spectacles dans le théâtre concentrationnaire”, in Thélème. Revista Complutense de Estudios Franceses, ISSN: 1139-9368, e-ISSN: 1989-8193. Revistă ERIH+, indexată Dialnet, Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Modern Language Asssociation Database (under evaluation)
Book chapter: Dana Monah, « Le Syndrome de Shéhérazade dans le théâtre concentrationnaire », in Bernard Guelton (dir.), Fictions secondes. Mondes possibles et figures de l’enchâssement dans les œuvres artistiques et littéraires, Paris, Éditions de la Sorbonne, 2019, p. 93-102. ISBN: 979-10-351-0298-2. ISSN: 1639-4518.
Book chapter: Dana Monah, “Shakespeare’s Text as Trauma-Rewriting Device in András Visky’s Juliet”, in Perspectives on Shakespeare in Europe’s Borderlands, eds. Mădălina Nicolaescu, Oana-Alis Zaharia, Andrei Nae, Editura Universitatii din Bucuresti, 2019, ISBN 978-606-16-1063-1. (to be published)
Conference participation:
Dana Monah, „Dispositifs spectaculaires mémoriels dans le théâtre concentrationnaire” in Shared memory(ies). II EASTAP Conference, School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, Lisabona, 23-25 September 2019.
Dana Monah, „Stories that heal: Literature as Survival in Fiction of the Romanian Gulag”, in The International Conference Thirty Years since the Fall of Communism. Visual Narratives, Memory and Culture, organized by Facultatea de Istorie, Filosofie și Teologie, Facultatea de Litere și Facultatea Transfrontalieră, Universitatea „Dunărea de Jos”, Galați, România, 21-22 November 2019.
Research stays:
22 January – 10 February, National Library of France (Paris)
22 October – 5 November, National Library of France (Paris)

Stage III (January-December 2020): the framed fiction as a storytelling device: elaborating a model of the relationship between the framing and the framed fiction, as means of articulating the traumatic experience
Task III. 1 update of the theoretical background of the project (theories of trauma and traumatic memory, post-memory)
Task III. 2 in-depth analyses and interpretations of plays
Task III. 3: elaborating a theoretical model for the analysis of the relationship between framing and framed fiction

Documentaţie oficială / Official Documentation

Activity_Report_2018 Dana Monah
Activity_Report_2019