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Socialist Internationalists: Romanian Theatre Practitioners during Détente (1955-1975)

The project deals with the history of theatre practice and criticism in the former socialist bloc during the Cold War from a transnational perspective. It outlines several biographies that highlight the circulation of ideas within the larger context of the East-West dynamics in theatre during détente.  

The project focuses on the trajectories of theatre internationalists from state socialism (actors, directors, stage designers, dramatists) that defied ideological divides. It also examines the ideas extolled by these individuals while they fashioned their countries’ image in Cold War Europe. East European internationalists had a role in shaping the continental communities of knowledge as much as their Western counterparts did. Socialist theatre internationalists were those experts coming from state socialist countries who were given the opportunity of professional and cultural mobility and as a result they enriched and shaped their respective fields at home, while also attempting to showcase the regime’s policies and practices abroad.

The background of the project is the internationalisation of East European cultures through theatre during the Cold War. It reveals how the theatre landscape behind the Iron Curtain was transformed by the tides of détente (1955-1961 and 1965-1975) as its representatives constantly interacted with their Western peers. East-West exchanges created a common language, which functioned as a stepping stone for East European theatre’s international presence during the 1960s and the 1970s. Transnational biographies of theater internationalists thus become lenses for understanding how politics, national contexts and individual experiences interweaved beyond the East-West divide.

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