It was the beginning of a long and continuing partnership. But what neither the theatre nor the British council could have anticipated was the zeal that some of these new students would take away from the course, and what the hugely productive knock-on effects would. Raeda Ghazaleh was the first Palestinian to attend the residency in 1995. Enthused by the working processes, and seeing how they could help make the events of the daily struggle at home become dramatic stories, the 29-year-old director set about gathering together a group of writers when she returned to Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. She relates how central the royal court has been to her own development and, by implication, to that of the nascent Palestinian theatre. The moment I came to know the royal court, it was a whole change to my life. A big turn for me of dealing with text and new playwriting.
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They are long-term projects, we writing wanted to autobiographies build relationships, says Dodgson. «So we go back and back; six years to Uganda, seven years to Palestine. I often make the point in new countries that, in 1956, we didn't have a theatre of new writing in Britain it's something you have to create and sustain.» Links have been established with European theatres, and an international residency programme in London has been set up, attended every year by more than 20 young playwrights and. The department driving the royal court's international programme is, astonishingly, a tiny three-person team. «The original vision of the royal court was as an international theatre of new writing in the 1950s we did Brecht, genet, sartre, beckett in French, at the same time as we were doing look back In Anger says Dodgson. «In the 1970s and 80s, we lost the international focus there was a lot of work being done on plays about what it was like to live in Thatcher's Britain, and I think we were pretty obsessed by it. But in 1989, when there were all these huge changes in the world, we decided we wanted to address what was happening outside of Britain again.». There followed a huge, and continuing, funding drive. When Daldry became artistic director in 1992, he saw that the teachers who were taking the international workshops were the likes of Harold Pinter, caryl Churchill and david Hare, and was keen to support the programme; the British council backed the initiative. It provided the funds to bring writers and directors from 15 countries to take part in the residency.
Twenty-two new plays from 13 countries will be performed or read on themes ranging from an Italian reaction to last year's riots in Genoa, argentina's response to the near anarchy in recent weeks on its streets, immigration and asylum issues in Europe, and American reaction to September 11; tackling what Hare calls a hugely difficult undertaking namely, turning. The International Playwrights season, founded by Elyse dodgson, is the culmination of what Stephen Daldry, the royal court's former revelation artistic director and director of Billy Elliot, calls the aggressive international policy of the theatre to initiate abroad what it has done here: nurture new playwrights and thus new plays. Daldry sums it up: Writers don't fall off trees. They emerge because you create the structures in which they can emerge. The royal court has the know-how for creating and staging plays. Its international partners have the stories to tell and the enthusiasm to find new ways of presenting them the idea over the past 12 years has been to marry the two. Teams of writers and directors from the royal court have run playwriting workshops in places separated as much by culture as by physical distance: Kampala and Moscow, the palestinian towns of Ramallah and Bethlehem, bangalore, siberia and the Brazilian city of Salvador.
One of the most arresting pieces of theatre in London's West End london last year wasn't a musical, a Noel Coward revival or a radical new interpretation of Shakespeare. It wasn't even presentation in English. It was a play from start to finish in Arabic, with English subtitles, presented by a Palestinian theatre company, dealing with the intifada, or uprising, in Israel and the occupied territories. Al-Kasaba Theatre's Alive from Palestine at the royal court dramatically expressed what it is like to live under bullets and bombs. The sequence of staged personal accounts which included a distraught man going through his dead son's school satchel, weeping over his uneaten packed lunch and unfilled schoolbooks provoked tears and a standing ovation from the audience. In a way that a foreign news report never could, it movingly articulated how people try to live ordinary lives in an extraordinary and desperate situation. The principal subject matter of British theatre is horrifically parochial, says playwright david Hare. If you asked me what is the main problem besetting British theatre, it is that the subject matter of the new plays that are being presented tends to be so narrow in relation to what we know the complexity of the world to be. The royal court played a key role in bringing Al-Kasaba to london, and this month marks the opening of its own celebration of international theatre.
Only, in Russias case, the "they" of the state and "themselves" are two entities with a very different relation than is implied by this simple, reflexive sentence. If we assume that "nation" is adequate to capture that dynamic, it ensures only that we will be missing a great deal of the fun. To reduce national cinema to false category is to overlook its productivity as a hysterical and imaginative erasure of one way of knowing in favor of another: the underscoring of a "daily plebiscite to" renan, where there is none. Nevertheless, how would we know that cinema differently if we did not erase its two key features: state control and imperial continuity. From this perspective, "national cinema" is a patch that both conceals and calls attention to an impossible ambition: how the skin of the nation, as Anderson puts it, might be stretched across the imperial body. Georgii rerberg ( Pliumbum 1986; Doroga Pribytie poezda of Khotinenko, 1995-96) is the cameraman; Semen Litvinov sound. The guardian all the world on stage, have british plays become too parochial? The royal court is linking up with directors and playwrights from around the world who have urgent stories to tell. Mark Espiner, saturday february 23, 2002, the guardian.
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Despite the same infrastructural barriers, powerful production companies such as ntv-profit and stv seem to have weathered the economic default. Yet, curiously, the very substance the emerging national cinema is haunted, as if by tarkovskiis specters, by its own imperial legacy. Rogozhkins Blokpost, bodrovs Captive of the caucasus, abdrashitovs Time of the dancer, and Balabanovs War return to the colonial wars; mikhalkov plays a cameo role as Aleksandr iii. Lebedevs new World War Two film, Star, euphemistically plan displaces Russias colonial war onto the anti-fascist one. Meanwhile, in central Moscow, Chechen nationalist—so-called terrorists—seized hostages in a drama theatre last year. The Chechens presumably did not seize a movie theatre because its potential hostages were home watching pirated videos. The sober critic, in both senses, might predict that movie theatres will become vulnerable targets long before the russian cinema industry itself becomes a self-sustaining, independent national entity.
At the very least, these two processes are intimately related. As we rush to tell the "new national story, the imperial periphery—eager to gain national freedom at any cost—plots its genocide in the metropolitan house of culture. What if, in 19, an empire had fallen, but the structural and thematic components remain? The project here is not to resolve this discursive schizophrenia between "national cinema" and Russias imperial preoccupations. It is precisely this stubborn contradiction, rather than its availability for resolution, that has value, as new production companies such as ntv-profit and stv take on the herculean task of building a profitable national imaginary. If Marcias remarks reference the global, hybridity and nomadism, here the reference is to a more molecular, originating misunderstanding, located in grammar itself. Godard says "when countries were using motion pictures they needed an image of themselves." so they did.
Clips are usually either too obvious or too attenuated; this one may be both. I have chosen Tarkovskiis 1974 film Mirror, which is, of course, like all Tarkovskiis films until Nostalghia in 1983, a mosfilm production. Three things interest me about the clip, which I would argue, circulates in this larger discussion of how "Russia under soviet times and tsarist, struggles to cohere as a collectivity. Apart from what does not need to be said, three things interest me here. First, and most ephemerally, is the highly stylized use of light and extra-diegetic sound by rerberg and Litvinov (1 creating what might be described as a metaphysics, not unique to mirror in Tarkovskiis work, of spirits present but invisible in the cinematic space, suggestive.
Second, for those who know the film, is the utter superfluity of the scene, in which an unknown woman from an unidentified historical past appears miraculously in the soviet apartment to request a passage from an antique book. Pushkins letter to Chaadaev responds to Chaadaevs polemics that sparked the westernizer-Slavophile debate, so central to the elites uneasy relation to demotic culture. We do not "need" this scene, so to speak, in order to track what passes for the narrative; instead it comments on constitutive features of imperial identity and its spectral participation in the soviet present, here an apartment in the early 1970s. Third, tarkovskiis strategic inclusion of Pushkins cloying homage to the tsar, an instance of Aesopian language, suggests, at least to its educated soviet viewer, that Tarkovskii, like pushkin, occupies a precarious position vis-à-vis the autocratic party elite, including the cinema administration itself, without whose censorship. A tentative conclusion concerns the present decade. With the collapse in 1991, the "social command" to write the—now, "real"—genesis story of Russian national cinema has become more urgent: mikhalkov, we are told, or Balabanov, or Rogozhkin is where to look for national identity, the new national hero, the birth of the nation. This project is a noble one; smart people have undertaken it, and perhaps it will be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
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This precision is not whimsical because it does not need to be; the system itself provides the whimsy. A kind of discursive schizophrenia, therefore, sets in when one speaks of Russian "national" cinema. The gulf between the metropolitan elites, including the cinema elite, and the demotic periphery is unbridgeable without the necessary collapse of national impulse into state desire to engage in practices associated in the west with cinematic nation-building. Paradoxically, the most effective unifying mythologies are precisely those that underscore the imperial past: war, the Orthodox church, and the two and a half centuries of Mongol rule, whose 16c. Destruction both marked the emergence of the russian empire and provided many of the cultural categories father's of its structure. These mythologies at the same time strengthened Russias exceptionalist status vis-à-vis Western Europe around its most vexing question: how does Russia participate in the family of nations? Its solution, wherein nationhood is largely one of internal differentiation of nations under the larger imperial rubric, left Russia in a familiar position of grandiosity and deferral, supra-nationalism and pre-nationalism, that has accompanied it since its early state relations with byzantium.
We are not therefore talking about national cinema, but about state cinema and imperial cinema, a cinema the economic structures of which, similar to the structures of state time, railroads, food distribution, airplane schedules and the like, are radically centralized in the metropole with differentiated. The inheritance after 1917 is articulated in the cinema system through the key institutions of a highly centralized film industry, largely located in Moscow and Leningrad/St. Petersburg: Mosfilm, gorkii film Studio, lenfilm; the state distribution monopoly, goskino; and sole existing film school, vgik; and even the huge metropolitan cinemas, with their 800-seat capacity: these are, so to speak, the eye of the needle through which cinema must pass. This high degree of centralization served many ends beyond the imperial legacy: ideological control, a command-economy for marshalling the sparse resources of the periphery under conditions of perpetual scarcity, and so forth. These factors do not cancel out, but rather undergird the imperial project, contributing to the logic of a composite state with highly unequal territorial access to goods and privileges, even as it has paradoxically striven to eradicate notions of privilege historically associated with economic class. By extension, the collapse of Russian cinema did not so much mean the collapse of a distribution network—although of course it did collapse—as the collapse of the center, without which the periphery was not structured so as to sustain independent links. The freefall of the cinema, whether in its production, which fell to 28 films in 1995, or in attendance, which by the same write year fell to one cinema visit every four years, could, without whimsical precision on my part, be traced to a single time.
nationhood, and that resistance was scripted into its very size: the stretch of eleven time zones from one end of just its formal, internal empire. My argument, however, is not that empires cannot have strong national identities—Britain is often cited as a case in point—but rather that, for Russia, circumstances militated in favor of a strong state and imperial identity, reflected even in the very word "Russian which is not. Unlike the thallasocratic empires, such as Britain, the overland empire, wherein distinctions between self and other are incremental as well as hybrid, renders the modernizing project of nation-building problematic if not impossible. Cinemas many figurations, say, of political exile to its periphery; return to the metropolitan homeland; incursions of the other into the space of the center all play out across a vast contiguous territory without that discreet "third space" of ocean between, say, london and Bombay. Moreover, as the last scene of Chiaurellis Fall of Berlin ceaselessly reminds us, soviet anti-imperialism is meticulously intertwined on the screen with a libidinal appreciation of its own imperial grandeur. Elite interests, subordinated to state formation, found no exception in cinema production. It is inaccurate merely to say that, except for the early years of Russian and soviet cinema, the state controlled every detail of national cinema production, distribution, and exhibition; this implies there was a cohesive "national" distinct from or resistant to state supervision. One could safely wager that such a degree of subsumption to state desire was to be found nowhere except perhaps in North Korea, and was surpassed only after the collapse of the soviet Union when the turkmenistan, one of its emergent nation-states, so effectively controlled.
A soviet hit in the early 1980s could expect 80 million viewers or more; average attendance was 40 million for a steady consistent production rate of 150 films a year over two decades. All this and more, which neither interest nor time permits, underscore. Godards comment that "when countries were inventing and using motion pictures they needed an image of themselves." so far, so good. When we turn to related knowledge systems, however, everything goes wrong. For once, we do not even need Benedict Anderson, with his concept of the national as a "deep, horizontal comradeship an imagined community, limited and sovereign, to see the misalignment between familiar theorizing on nation—Gellner, kedourie, kohn, hobsbawn, deutsch—and the imperial structure of Russia, whether. Drawing on studies of empire by doyle, pagden and others, political cultural theorists such as Ilia pritzel and Terry martin, have struggled with this mismatch between nation and empire—hyperbolically, perhaps, the absence of the nation, the hypertrophic empire—as well as its attendant implications for cultural. Nor do we even need these new-fangled theorists to help us out, when Stalin.
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KinoKultura, articles, national Cinema: Pittsburgh Film Colloquium "Imperial Ectoplasm by nancy condee (University supermarket of Pittsburgh, director, Graduate. Program for Cultural Studies; Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures) "movie-making was related to the identity of the nation, and there have been very few national cinemas Italian, german, American, russian" (Godard). I am happy that Russian cinema figures among the big four, and remind myself to do nothing in todays market to endanger its inclusion. I would therefore hope for your strategic amnesia about these remarks, which concern this vernacular use of "nation its productivity for "national cinema" and its misattributions. The narrative of Russian national cinema is a familiar one: from Lumières 1896, coronation of nikolai ii through Eisenstein, pudovkin and dovzhenko to balabanov, rogozhkin and mikhalkov. It is the story of a robust production, distribution, and exhibition system that at its height in the 1960s and 1970s claimed the highest annual per capita attendance in the world, at 20 visits a year (Dondurei) excluding newborns. Comparable figures for the us in these years were.5 visits annually (Christie, "The cinema" 43).