Natalia Jakubova (HU/RU) - Document versus postmemory: Controversies of dealing with the past in the contemporary Central European Theatre.





Marianne Hirsch proposed the term of ‘postmemory’ to describe the relationship of so called ‘second generation’ (children of Holocaust survivors) “to powerful, often traumatic, experiences that preceded their births but that were nevertheless transmitted to them so deeply as to seem to constitute memories in their own right” (M. Hirsch. The Generation of Postmemory // Poetics Today, 2008, nr 1 (Spring). P.103-128). It is characteristic, however, that the theatre studies in Central Europe are currently adopting this term, in all its ambiguity, in regard to the general state of ‘historical consciousness’ and ‘historical imagination’ as expressed in the theatre productions.

How does this need for ‘imaginative investment, projection, and creation’ (M.Hirsch, p.107)) corresponds to the simultaneous revival of the theatre artists’ interest toward the documentary? My thoughts are inspired by many productions all over Eastern Europe (including those that were presented at the previous Drama Festivals -  I am the Machine Gunner by Klavdiev and Death Tours by György Árvai). I will, however, concentrate on two examples, probably most plausible ones: Dibuk and (A)pollonia, two performances by Krzysztof Warlikowski.

In Dibuk, the problem of the postmemory is raised on the discursive level: actually, the haunting of memories over the ‘second generation’ is the exclusive theme of the documentary story of Hanna Krall that the second part of the performance is based on. (A)pollonia differs in that sense, that a documentary story (another one by Hanna Krall) becomes an impulse for ‘work of postmemory’.