Public Lecture | Resisting Empire: Theatre in Ukraine, 19th–21st centuries

By Dr. Mayhill Fowler, Stetson University and moderated by Dr. Oksana Dudko, Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage

Saturday, May 13, 2023, 1 PM CST
Ukrainian Museum of Canada, 910 Spadina Crescent E, Saskatoon, SK
Entry is Free/By Donation, everyone welcome.

From itinerant troupes performing under the Tsars to today’s artists making art in a time of war, theatre in Ukraine has always resisted empire. This talk explores three stories of theatrical resistance: the first professional Ukrainian-language theatre and its star, Maria Zankovetska, who created successful careers in the Russian Empire and a counter-narrative to imperial culture. Second, Les Kurbas and his Berezil theatre used cultural connections with Europe to create a theatre that was Soviet but also Ukrainian. Finally, after the Revolution of Dignity new laws – and a new generation – ended the Soviet legacy in the arts, creating theatre for a democratic Ukraine. These artists are still creating theatre today, in war.

This lecture tries to counter many ideas about “Russian” culture, showing how important it is to decolonize our thinking, to reconstruct centre and periphery, and to explore the texture of place more fully to capture artistic creativity.

Dr. Mayhill C. Fowler is an associate professor in the Department of History at Stetson University, Florida. She has published widely on culture in Ukraine, including her book Beau Monde on Empire’s Edge: State and Stage in Soviet Ukraine (Toronto, 2017). She is currently finishing a book on women in theatre in Ukraine across the long 20th century and re-thinking a project on Soviet military theatre. She has held fellowships at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the University of Toronto, and she was a Fulbright scholar to Ukraine 2019-2020. She is an affiliated researcher with the Centre for Urban History in Lviv and affiliated faculty in the Program in Theatre Studies at Ivan Franko National University. She is also a former actress.

Moderator: Dr. Oksana Dudko, the Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage, St. Thomas More College

This lecture is organized by the Prairie Center for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage, St. Thomas More College as part of “The Prairie Workshop: Decolonizing European and Soviet History Curricula”, taking place May 11–13, 2023, and presented in partnership with the Ukrainian Museum of Canada.
The Prairie Workshop seeks to develop new perspectives on teaching about (eastern) Europe, Ukraine, and the Soviet Union. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, many scholars of Russia, the Soviet Union, and eastern Europe have started to discuss how we can “decolonize” the field. This workshop invites participants to discuss this idea of decolonization further and explore whether it can be an effective way to foster new ways of thinking about and teaching (eastern) European, Ukrainian, and Soviet history.