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Reclaiming the Actress's Authority over Theatre Creation

The Autobiography of Polish Actress Irena Solska (1875–1958)

Natalia Yakubova

This article considers the autobiography of the famous Polish actress Irena Solska (1875-1958) as a response to the masculinisation of creativity in twentieth-century theatre, which was a result of the affirmation of the director-centred model. In her autobiography, Solska constructs the image of her creativity with the help of characteristics traditionally marked as 'feminine'. Taking into consideration the theatrical context of the 1930s to the 1950s, the period in which she wrote her text, I regard such a construction as subversive. Solska refused to conform to the new aesthetic norms of the period, which insisted on the dissociation of women's creativity from their embodiment and sexuality. She expressed nostalgia for the full creative status women artists enjoyed under the actor-centred paradigm, but which was lost as a result of the introduction of the director-centred model. Solska questioned the pejorative connotation of the actor-centred theatre as 'feminised' and, by purely literary means, reaffirmed such characteristics as embodiment, impulsiveness and disruptiveness.