Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

What Was Soviet and Ukrainian About Soviet Ukrainian Culture? Mykola Kulish’s Myna Mazailo on the Soviet Stage

  • Mayhill C. Fowler (a1)

Abstract

In the Soviet Union theatre was an arena for cultural transformation. This article focuses on theatre director Les Kurbas’ 1929 production of playwright Mykola Kulish’s Myna Mazailo, a dark comedy about Ukrainianization, to show the construction of “Soviet Ukrainian” culture. While the Ukrainian and the Soviet are often considered in opposition, this article takes the culture of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic seriously as a category. Well before Stalin’s infamous adage “national in form and socialist in content,” artists like Kulish and Kurbas were engaged in making art that was not “Ukrainian” in a generic Soviet mold, or “Soviet” art in a generic “Ukrainian” mold, but rather art of an entirely new category: Soviet Ukrainian. Far from a mere mouthpiece for state propaganda, early Soviet theatre offered a space for creating new values, social hierarchies, and worldviews. More broadly, this article argues that Soviet nationality policy was not only imposed from above, but also worked out on the stages of the republic by artists, officials, and audiences alike. Tracing productions of Myna Mazailo into the post-Soviet period, moreover, reveals a lingering ambiguity over the content of culture in contemporary Ukraine. The state may no longer sponsor cultural construction, but theater remains a space of cultural contestation.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: mfowler@stetson.edu

References

Hide All
Bilaniuk, Laada. 2005. Contested Tongues: Language Politics and Cultural Correction in Ukraine. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Carnicke, Sharon Marie. 1989. The Theatrical Instinct: Nikolai Evreinov and the Russian Theater of the Early Twentieth Century. New York: Peter Lang.
Cherkashyn, Roman and Fomina, Iuliia. 2008. My—Berezil’tsi: teatral’ni spohady-rozdumy. Kharkiv: Akta.
Davis, Tracy C. and Balme, Christopher. 2016. “A Cultural History of Theater: a Desideratum.” Theater Survey 57 (3): 459470.
Deich, Aleksandr. 1966. Golos pamiati. Moscow: Iskusstvo.
Fowler, Mayhill. 2015. “Mikhail Bulgakov, Mykola Kulish, and Soviet Theater: How Internal Transnationalism Remade Center and Periphery.” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 16 (2): 263290.
Fowler, Mayhill. 2017. “Guns, Money, and the Muse: New Patronage in the Russian Civil War.” War and Theatrical Innovation, edited by Victor Emeljanow, 121–138. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hirniak, Iosyp. 1982. Spomyny. Smoloskyp, New York.
Hirsh, Francine, . 2005. Empire of Nations: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Making of the Soviet Union. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Iermakova, Natalia. 2012. Berezi”‘ska Kul’tura: istoriia, dosvid. Kyiv: Feniks.
Jelavich, Peter. 1985. Munich and Theatrical Modernism: Politics, Playwrighting, and Performance, 1890–1914. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Korniienko, Nelli. 1998. Les’ Kurbas: Repetytsiia maibutn’ioho. Kyiv: Fakt.
Kostko, Kost’. 1929. “Nimets u plishku.” Komunist, 20 April 1929: 22–23.
Kulish, Mykola. 2001. P’esy. Kyiv: Naukova dumka.
Kuziakina, Nataliia. 2012. Traiektorii dol’. Kyiv: Tempora.
Labin’s’kyi, Mykola. 1991. Molodyi teatr. Kyiv: Mystetstvo.
Labin’s’kyi, Mykola, ed. 1995. Les Kurbas: Filosofiia teatru. Kyiv: Osnova.
Lavrentii, Roman. 2013. “Novators’ka vystava Myna MazailoMykoly Kulisha na stseni Ukrains’koho narodnoho teatru im. Ivana tobilevycha u Stanislavovi (1930 rik, rezh. Volodymyr Blavats’koho).” Visnyk L’vivs’koho universytetu. Seriia myst-vo. (12): 227243.
Makaryk, Irena Rima. 2004. Shakespeare in the Undiscovered Bourne: Les Kurbas, Ukrainian Modernism and Early Soviet Cultural Politics. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Martin, Terry. 2001. The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Making of the Soviet Union. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Mather, Christine. 2004. “Political Afterlife of Eleonora Duse.” Theater Survey 45 (1): 4159.
Pauly, Matthew. 2014. Breaking the Tongue: Language, Education, and Power in Soviet Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Plamper, Jan. 2001. “Abolishing Ambiguity: Soviet Censorship Practices in the 1930s,” Russian Review 60 (4): 526544
Shevchenko, Iona. 1928. “‘Nozhytsi’ v teatri: do pidumkiv teatralnoho sezonu v Kharkovi.” Krytyka 5: 113114.
Sheehy, Helen. 2003. Eleonora Duse: A Biography. New York: Knopf.
Shevel’ov, Iurii. 2008. Vybrani pratsi. 2 volumes. Kyiv: Kyiv Mohyla Akademii.
Shkandrij, Myroslav. 1992. Modernists, Marxists and the Nation: the Ukrainian Literary Discussion of the 1920’s. Edmonton: CIUS.
Stalin, I. V. 1934. Marksizm I natsional’no-kolonial’nyi vopros. Moscow: Partizdat’.
Stech, Marko. 2007. “Kulish and the Devil.” Journal of Ukrainian Studies 32 (1): 135.
Tkacz, Virlana. 1987. “The Birth of a Director: The Early Development of Les Kurbas and his First Season with the Young Theatre.” Journal of Ukrainian Studies 12 (1): 2254.
Volyts’ka, Iryna. 1995. Teatral’na iunist’ Lesia Kurbasa. L’viv: Instytut Narodoznavstva NAN Ukrainy.
Yekelchyk, Serhy. 2010. “What is Ukrainian about Ukraine’s pop culture? The Strange Case of Verka Serduchka.” Canadian-American Slavic Studies 44 (1-2): 217232.
Derzhavnyi arkhiv Kyivs’koi oblasti [DAKO]
Derzhavnyi arkhiv Sluzhba bezpeky Ukrainy (Kyiv, Kharkiv) [SBU]
Derzhavnyi muzei teatral’noho, muzychnoho ta kinomystetstva Ukrainy [DMTMKU]
Tsentral’nyi derzhavnyi arkhiv hromads’kykh ob”ednan’ Ukrainy [TsDAHOU]
Tsentral’nyi derzhavnyi arkhiv-muzei literatury ta mystetstva Ukrainy [TsDAMLM]
Tsentral’nyi derzhavnyi arkhiv vyshchykh orhaniv vlady ta upravlinnia Ukrainy [TsDAVOU]

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed