Theatre Criticism in Lithuania in the [Late] Soviet Era: From Ideological to Aesthetic Guidelines

  • Rasa Vasinauskaitė
Keywords: ideology, socialist realism, Soviet period, theatre criticism


The article analyses the institution of Lithuanian theatre criticism in the Soviet period and its connection with the ideological requirements of the time. The resolutions of the Communist Party during the Stalinist and post-Stalinist periods, theatre repertoire, reviews, and the concept of social realism in the theatre are also discussed. The 1946–1948 resolutions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that regulated the development of culture and art, as well as the doctrine of socialist realism influenced both the practice of theatre and its critics. In the 1950s and 1960s, theatre criticism became a tool of ideology and propaganda, to such an extent that it ‘itself created a socialist realist text’. It is also important that during this period, the names of interwar critics disappeared from the press; critics were represented by party functionaries, party-owned directors, actors, and writers. The ‘return’ of criticism is related with the Thaw period and a new generation of both theatre creators and critics. It can be said that the independence and autonomy of criticism started taking shape in the late 1960s, especially with the performances of director Jonas Jurašas. Writing about the Jurašas’s productions, directed between 1967 and 1972, critics came to reflect on the nature of theatre, theatrical creation or creative freedom, and the disguised and false reality. The discourse of criticism not only freed itself from previously obligatory normative criteria and depersonalised style, but also started representing the subjective gaze of the critic, who not only tried to cover the aesthetic/artistic whole of the performance, but also to establish direct contact with both creators and readers, to capture and convey the impact of the performance on the viewers of their time. In summary, despite external (censorship) and internal (self-censorship) circumstances, the discourse of theatrical criticism changed only at the end of the 1960s, and began to approach artistic discourse: the ideological criteria for understanding and evaluating a performance theatrical production were replaced by artistic and aesthetic ones.
Musicology. Theatrology