Actresses in Search of Roles. Gendered Identities and the Dramatic Art in Socialist Bulgaria (1944-1954) Cover Image
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Жените в търсене на роли: полови идентичности и театрално изкуство в социалистическа България (1944-1954)
Actresses in Search of Roles. Gendered Identities and the Dramatic Art in Socialist Bulgaria (1944-1954)

Author(s): Nadége Ragaru
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay

Summary/Abstract: The article explores the transformations in the definitions and experiences of gender identities in Bulgaria following the establishment of socialist rule. The study centers on one specific milieu, that of theater actresses. The 19th Century emergence of a national theatrical tradition has been accompanied with the development of ambivalent images of female comedians, both as art muses and light women. While denouncing “bourgeois” ways of acting (and living), after 1944 socialist rulers invest actresses with unprecedented social and political missions. Comedians, however, are asked to perform these new roles (both on and off stage) in front of audiences whose representations of theatrical performances predate the imposition of socialism. How then can the expected metamorphosis be achieved? Comparing the trajectories of two scenes (the National theater and a modest provincial theater), the paper shows that the visual and moral departure from the pre-1944 era is not achieved through eschewing previous ways of doing and sensitivities. Rather the latter are re-enacted so as to break with the bourgeois past. Additionally, the article argues that one may not assume the existence of a gap between the socialist project of female emancipation and the truth of lived experiences. Changes in gender identities and ways of appropriating them were indeed filtered through diverse generational and social frames.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 114-135
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: Bulgarian