My thesis examines the many ways in which memory functions within the texts and performances of Harold Pinter, Tadeusz Kantor, and Heiner Muller, as well as the ways in which their works reflect and respond to various aspects of ...
Author: Milija Gluhovic
To date, important work on memory has been done across many disciplines, but less in the field of theatre studies. This study attempts to redress this bias, and to expand the field by offering new texts and contexts for study, and new methods to approach them. My thesis examines the many ways in which memory functions within the texts and performances of Harold Pinter, Tadeusz Kantor, and Heiner Muller, as well as the ways in which their works reflect and respond to various aspects of contemporary memory discourse. Their memory-theatres explore the relation between individual and collective memory, between real and imaginary, event and fantasy, history and myth. In representing the complex and heterogeneous ways in which memories are constructed, their works reach out toward the individual and collective sites of memory, history, and loss, while at the same time explicitly negotiating meaning with their audiences. I argue that their memory-theatres are symbolic sites not only of memory but of intervention, showing how the transmission of memories includes negation, contestation, exclusion, repression and their return in disfigured ways. Often positioned within a specific memory discourse in which they intervene, these memory-theatres draw their effectiveness from the irreparable wounds of trauma, to which they appeal. Embracing not only the past, but also the future, they open spaces for a cultural convalescence to be achieved through the performance of mourning. While they stand for a network of concerns, a range of responses to the complex overlapping between the present and the past, the individual and the collective, the psychic and the social, and the aesthetic and the political, these three representatives of a memory-theatre show that how we think about the culture of the past cannot be separated from how we act in the present.