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Performing Cultures: English-Language Theatres in Post-Communist Prague

Orel, Gwendolyn Alaine (2006) Performing Cultures: English-Language Theatres in Post-Communist Prague. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The presence of English-language theatres (ELTs) in Prague in the nineties coincided with the ongoing transition to a market economy in the Czech Republic, as the English language itself became increasingly the international language of business and culture. Under Communism, Czech theatre had been highly political through veiled protests against the system of power. After 1989, Czech theatre began moving into spheres of commodification and tourism. How the ELTs in Prague negotiated their place in a shifting society reveals a performance of identity. The ELTs tracked the turning points in Czech post-revolutionary history of the 1990s.The history of the ELTs has been constructed through personal and telephone interviews and emails, as well as reviews, articles, manuscripts and production videotapes. Companies analyzed include North American Theatre, Small and Dangerous, Black Box International Theatre (which began its life as Studio Theatre), Exposure, and Misery Loves Company. Structurally, this investigation covers three distinct periods of the Czech transition: the optimistic early nineties; the mid-nineties, when the market economy flourished along with increasing instances of corruption; and the late nineties, when disillusionment affected the Czech Republic and most of the ELTs vanished.ELTs in Prague primarily used four production strategies: 1) representing the Performer's Culture; 2) representing the Host culture in English; 3) bi-cultural and/or bi-lingual productions, including nonverbal work, collaboration with Host culture theatre companies, and multicultural casting, and 4) presenting plays about culture clash. Theoretical underpinnings for this study include intercultural performance theory, reception and semiotic theory, historiography, and theories of globalization and cultural tourism.The achievements and disappointments of the ELTs reveal underlying principles of production and reception applicable not only to Eastern Europe but to any region with a growing English-speaking subculture. Findings include the observation that production strategy and mission are less significant than the cultural and economic contextualizing of the production company. Curiosity about the English language dwindles as its usage grows. ELTs that were most successful worked structurally with strategy number three in terms of performance venue, schedule and style, contributing to the cultural life of the city rather than self-consciously using theatre to cross borders.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Orel, Gwendolyn
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairFavorini, Attiliobucfav@pitt.eduBUCFAV
Committee MemberRimer, J. ThomasRimer@pitt.eduRIMER
Committee MemberGeorge, KathleenGeorgeke@pitt.eduGEORGEKE
Committee MemberGounaridou,
Committee MemberCondee, NancyCondee@pitt.eduCONDEE
Date: 20 March 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 December 2005
Approval Date: 20 March 2006
Submission Date: 26 November 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Theater Arts
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Americanization; Asylum; bilingual theatre; expatriate; Velvet Revolution; YAPs; Czechoslovakia; Czech Republic; national identity; post-communism; economic transition
Other ID:, etd-11262005-210817
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:06
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:52


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