The Chair of Ukrainian Studies, in cooperation with the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Ottawa and the University of Toronto Press, launched an exciting new lecture series, the John Ramon Hnatyshyn Lecture on 7 May 2004, in memory of the Chair’s late Patron. Mrs. Gerda Hnatyshyn, who was in attendance, spoke about her late husband’s longstanding interest in and support of the arts. When in office, Mr. Hnatyshyn initiated the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards and, subsequently, created the Hnatyshyn Foundation. It was thus fitting that Professor Makaryk whose lecture, based on her latest book, Shakespeare in the Undiscovered Bourn: Les Kurbas, Ukrainian Modernism, and Early Soviet Cultural Politics (University of Toronto Press, 2004), was chosen to initiate this new lecture series.
Introducing Professor Makaryk was Mr. Bill Harnum, Vice-President, Scholarly Publishing of the University of Toronto Press, who spoke about her project and her previous publications with the Press. He was followed by comments from Professor Dominique Arel.
In her lecture, “Theatre, Nation, Identity: Les’ Kurbas and Modernist Shakespeare,” Professor Makaryk focussed on the work of avant-garde stage and film director Les Kurbas (1885-1937), who laid the foundations for the Ukrainian theatre and cinema in the 20th century. Kurbas created extraordinary, innovative productions which preceded by over a decade the techniques of Western directors such as Bertolt Brecht. His achievements were also measured by the context in which he found himself: a theatre which, until 1906, had been subject to severe tsarist censorship and, which was, as a consequence, provincial and inward-looking. Focussing on his productions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Professor Makaryk showed how Kurbas responded both to burning political issues of the day, as well as to a range of aesthetic debates, including the broadest one, on the nature of representation itself. Executed in the far north of Russia in 1937, Kurbas was a forbidden word for nearly two decades, and was only fully “rehabilitated” after the creation of a independent Ukraine.
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