Criticism as an Ideology. The Problem of National(ist) Theatre, 1931–1933

  • Rasa Vasinauskaitė
Keywords: ideology, critique, national culture, National State Theatre


Using the concept of Eagleton’s ideology, the article is focused on the conflict between the State Theatre and the magazine Naujoji Romuva, which from 1931 represented the ideological policy of the state based on the idea of national unity and independence of national culture. One of the doctrines of this idea was the ethnic purity of Lithuanian culture, including theatre. The criticism voiced by the magazine was directed at the Russian artists working in the theatre (for instance, Michael Chekhov) and at the influence of Russian theatre on Lithuanian creators. The highest expression of the conflict between the theatre and its opponents was the public outburst in two magazines, Naujoji Romuva and Skynimai. Summarizing this conflict, the Marxist-oriented magazine Kultūra argued that the conflict essentially took place within a single ideological discourse: it was a confrontation between the ideas “art for art” and “art for the nation”. The conclusion drawn in the article is that the ongoing conflict of 1931-1933 between the State Theatre (represented by the theatre critic and theatre “ideologue” Balys Sruoga in the public sphere), and the society / nation / political ideology (represented by the Naujoji Romuva) was doomed from the outset. The conflict was essentially between the proponents of bourgeois ideology, controlled by the discourse of the dominant power and based on the idea of an independent nation-state.