The new Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Tartu is director Merle Karusoo
In 2014/2015 academic year, Merle Karusoo, a director and the initiator of collecting the life stories of Estonians starts working as the Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Tartu. Hence, all those interested in the topic are welcome to join Karusoo's course "Kaevudes. Elude lood kaasakirjutamiseks" which invites all participants to reflect upon the different important stages in a person's life at different times and through different generations.
"Merle Karusoo's sharp societal nerve and her ability to ask hurtful questions helps to make the contemporary students think about the moral choices Estonians have had to make during the past 75 years. There are also several research projects at the university about investigating memories and biographies, which offer a beneficial environment for getting engaged with this topic," Professor Margit Sutrop, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Tartu Tartu, substantiates the choice of the faculty.
Merle Karusoo (born in 1944) is famous in Estonia, but also elsewhere in Europe and Russia, as the establisher and champion of a sociological, documentary or biographical theatre. Biographical theatre is a branch of theatre which starts with a research and ends with presenting the outcomes in a form of a performance. Karusoo is considered to be one of the best experts of Voldemar Panso's teaching and functional analysis in Estonia. She has mostly worked as a director but she has also been a lecturer, written plays and done research works.
Karusoo is also one of the persons who initiated the collection of the life stories of Estonians at the end of the 1980s. Being the director of the memory sector of the Pirgu Research and Development Centre, established in 1987, she forestalled the mass collections of memories which were recorded in the history of science (including the activities of the Estonian Herigate Society and the union "Estonian Biographies"). During her earlier activities, Karusoo introduced the so-called emphatic biographic interview methodology which served as an example for the biography investigation in the future. She was one of the first persons to problematize the ethical dimension of collecting and using biographic materials.
Karusoo's stage works (59 productions) can be divided into two: the plays based on the collection and dramatization of documentary materials and the plays based on the texts of other authors.
The actors characterise her as a principled and maximalist director whose rehearsals can be compared to a master class. Karusoo works in a very systematic manner, using the functional analysis method — therefore she is also a highly appreciated lecturer in theatre schools.
Karusoo has received the Cultural Prize of the Republic of Estonia (1998), the Fourth Class Order of the White Star (2001) and numerous theatre and drama prizes.