On 26 August at 12:15 Sven Karja will defend his doctoral thesis "Eesti teatrite repertuaar aastatel 1986-2006" ("The Repertory of Estonian Theatre 1986-2006") for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Theatre Research). The defence is held in Estonian.
Professor Anneli Saro
Docent Mikko-Olavi Seppälä (University of Helsinki)
Docent Luule Epner (Tallinn University)
This doctoral thesis investigates the basis on which the repertoire of Estonian theatres formed in the given period, the productions this comprised and its dynamics. The research was based on generalisations made and conclusions drawn from a database of 2511 productions including all of the new productions that premiered in professional Estonian theatres during the period under study. The central method of the doctoral thesis is a study of the repertoire in which the statistical indicators of the productions are placed within a broader social context and that of theatre history. The repertoire of these 21 years of Estonian theatre is examined through the prism of its key features: production type, genre, target audience, playwright, country of origin and chronological placement. The aim of the study was to identify the influences that shaped the era so as to build a bigger picture of what Estonian theatre was striving for aesthetically and how its organisation evolved during the period in question.
The period from 1986-2006 was one of transition in Estonian society, with major shifts in both its social and cultural paradigms. The change in regime and the switch from one social formation to another led to difficulties adapting, which Estonian theatre nevertheless overcame rather quickly, maintaining its existing network of theatres, audience numbers and some of its traditions in the process. At the same time, newcomers began steering the local theatre scene towards the modern, open world. Although it would be unjustified to refer to this period in Estonian theatre history as a breakthrough era, there can be no argument that it represents a transition period at the aesthetic, organisational and social levels. The way in which theatres planned their repertoires also saw significant changes: whereas previously this had been done under the scrutiny of the authorities, theatres were now able to make their own decisions. Choices also began to be keenly influenced by the mechanisms of the market economy. Dutch cultural theorist Hans van Maanen’s How to Study Art Worlds: On the Societal Functioning of Aesthetic Values (2009) served as the theoretical framework of the research.
The thesis forms part of a larger collective study, entitled ‘Estonian Theatre 1986-2006’, which continues the tradition of academic research into Estonian theatre history in 20-year cycles.