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Anda Kuduma Lelde Stumbres drama Doctoral thesis for Scientific


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									Latvijas Universitāte

Anda Kuduma

Leldes Stumbres dramaturģija

Lelde Stumbre's drama

Das Drama von Lelde Stumbre

Promocijas darba kopsavilkums filoloģijas doktora grāda iegūšanai Literatūrzinātnes nozarē Latviešu literatūras vēstures apakšnozarē

Rīga 2005

Lelde Stumbre's drama Overview of the Doctoral Thesis In the 20 century which in many respects can be looked upon as the age of technocracy and pragmatism, the age of collapse of traditional spiritual values, the drama focuses its heightened attention on the recording of man's inner split, inner contradictions and paradoxes. The center of its conflict is man's wish (often unconscious) to understand their being destined to absurd, nonsensical existence, to get a feeling of their metaphysical roots, their untapped inner potential, as well as to find causes of loosing their personal freedom and ways of regaining it. The most important issues and the greatest paradox of man's life are registered and investigated in an artistically original way by Latvian drama of the second half of the 20 century. As early as the 1950s it focused its attention on the singularity of man and the aspects of the formation of an individual. The 1960s saw a turn towards modernist aesthetics in Latvian literature. This was the time when it noticeably turned towards man's life's irrational side. The development of Latvian drama and the process of its modernization in the second half of the 1970s were profoundly influenced by a new generation of dramatists (Lelde Stumbre, Jānis Jurkāns, Hermanis Paukšs, Māra ZāIīte and some others) who entered literature and the theatre. Lelde Stumbre (1952) proved to be one of the most interesting and outstanding playwrights among them. Her active search for her own manner of writing and the development of her own style can roughly be divided into three periods from the end of the 1970s to the beginning of the 21 century. Lelde Sumbre's creative work reveals tendencies of late modernism. It synthesizes the ideas of the modernist drama of the turn of the 19 and 20 centuries with the drama of the 1950s and 1960s (existentialist, absurd). They define the man of the end of the 20 century as a confused individual with a split soul, lost in personal delusions and those of the world. The formation of Stumbre's manner of writing at the end of the 1970s shows her efforts to absorb the aesthetic search of drama of the absurd inspired by existentialist philosophy. It was a past stage in Western Europe at that time, but in the Soviet Union, although with some delay, it seemed fresh and topical and pointed to the devastating impact of the totalitarianism of the Soviet regime on the individual. At the same time, the dramatist is inclined to delve into the subconscious of her characters finding the cause of their aimless existence as well as possible solutions there. Lelde
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Stumbre's refusal to tackle social issues can be considered a fundamental turning point in Latvian drama as a whole. The further development of her creative work marks a return to the normative aesthetics of pre-modernist drama in her plays written in the 80s and a gradual assimilation of aesthetic techniques characteristic of foreign modernist drama (epic theatre, existentialist drama) in those written in the early 90s. In her plays of the late 90s, Stumbre searched for new, extraordinary means of expression. She experimented with the stylistics characteristic of post-modernist drama preserving the possibilities of form offered by pre-modernist and modernist drama. Lelde Sumbre's creative work has not received complete evaluation hitherto - only some aspects of her work have been investigated and her published and staged plays have been reviewed. There is no comprehensive study dealing with the most important directions of the development of her drama that would reveal the layers of contents, philosophy and form specific only to her plays. This is the aim of the present doctoral thesis. The reason for choosing the theme of the doctoral thesis is the author's interest in the process of the development of Latvian drama during the last three decades of the 20 century and in the creative work of Lelde Stumbre, one of the most striking dramatists of the middle age group of playwrights in Latvia, in the context of Latvian and foreign modern drama which reveals the most essential issues of the existence of modern man The theme of the doctoral thesis is the evaluation of Lelde Stumbre's creative work, fixing the crucial moments of its development and focusing on the most distinctive aspects of the content, style and genre of her plays. The object of the doctoral thesis is Lelde Stumbre's nine plays - Drawings on the Sand (Zīmējumi smiltīs, 1978), Andersons (1978), So that the Road can be Seen (Tā, lai var redzēt ceļu, 1979), The Red-haired Farm-hand (Sarkanmatainais kalps, 1987), Kronis (1988), Killer and Killer (Slepkava un slepkava, 1993), Strangers here (Svešinieki šeit, 1994), / was Dancing and Playing (Dancoju, spēlēju, 1996), and The Actors (Aktieri, 1998). The choice was made because of the experimental and distinctive character of the plays. One by one they reveal the dramatist's poetics and its variations in each of the periods of Lelde Stumbre's work. The plays investigated in the present research show the themes, conflicts and solutions of the genre characteristic of Sumbre's drama best of all. In her other plays only variations of the above elements can be traced.

The aims of the doctoral thesis are as follows: 1. to do conceptual research of Lelde Stumbre's creative work and formulate the ruling tendencies of the main phases of her work; 2. on the basis of the analysis of nine plays in the context of Lelde Stumbre's creative work, to focus attention on the distinctive features of developing a play, namely those of composition, style and genre, on the experimental character of the techniques to be analyzed, and on merging different elements, as well as the use of possibilities supplied by synthesis; The objectives of the doctoral thesis are as follows: 1. to disclose the principal tendencies of the development of Lelde Stumbre's creative work; 2. to characterize the relationship of the protagonists of Lelde Stumbre's drama with the real world and with the irrational space in which their souls live paying attention to the conflict characteristic of her plays; 3. to highlight the models of search for new possible living space in Lelde Stumbre's plays. To reveal the experimental character of Lelde Stumbre's creative work, the chosen plays have been analyzed through different methodological approaches highlighting their innovative character. The approach to the research is based on the method of formal analysis of a play, the formation of the central aspect of form development of the investigated plays and the synthesis of the mode of expression characteristic of the conception of Lelde Stumbre's drama which includes elements of pre-modernist, modernist and post-modernist drama. The research is based on the opinions of drama theorists, dramatists and researchers of literature (for instance, the opinions of the theorists and practitioners of pre-modernist and modernist drama Aristotle, Eric Bentley, Martin Esslin, Vladimir Volkenstein, Antonin Artaud, Eugene lonesco, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertolt Brecht and others). The method of comparative science of literature or comparative method of research is used in the investigation for looking at the principal periods and guidelines of the development of Stumbre's creative work in the context of the development of Latvian drama in the second half of the 20 century, for elucidating the common and different features in the manner of writing of the dramatists of older (Gunars Priede, Harijs Gulbis, Pēteris Pētersons, Pauls Putniņš) and her own generation (Māra Zālīte, Jānis Jurkāns, Hermanis Paukšs and others), as well as for analyzing the most striking

examples of her drama works. The evaluation of the context of Latvian drama is based on the opinions of the researchers of Latvian drama Gunars Bībers, Silvija Freinberga, Silvija Radzobe, Valda Čakare, Benedikts Kalnačs and others. The author of the investigation focuses her attention on the traces of influence of the poetics of foreign modernist (drama of the absurd, existentialist drama, epic theatre) and post-modernist drama in Stumbre's work, pointing out her parallels with stylistic, philosophical and genre solutions in the plays of Henrik Ibsen, Friedrich Durrenmatt, Eugene lonesco, Samuel Beckett, Slawomir Mrozek, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bertolt Brecht, Tom Stoppard and others. The literary philosophical approach is used for disclosing the central layers of ideas and content of Lelde Stumbre's drama. This aspect of investigation is based on the theories of the most outstanding thinkers of the 19 and 20 centuries on the nature of modern man, the aims and objectives of their life. The ideas of Soren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Michail Bachtin, Merab Mamardashvili, Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault and others are used in the research. Some aspects of psychoanalysis and archetypal criticism, based on the theoretical ideas of Siegmund Freud, Karl Gustav Jung, Erich Fromm, Andre Breton and others, are used to disclose the central conflict of Stumbre's drama on the level of the subconscious of her characters, as well as on the level of surrealistic reproduction of fragmentation of the psyche with an aim to stress the spiritual sphere of the plays. For depicting women characters in the context of partner relations between man and woman, some aspects of the feministic method of criticism based on modern feminist theories (Rosi Braidotti, Luce Iragaray) are used. The novelty of the doctoral thesis lies in the investigation of the creative work of Lelde Stumbre, one of the most outstanding Latvian dramatists of the late 20 century, in researching the most significant stages of the development of her work, the characteristics of the composition of her drama and the most important influences on her work exercised by the 20 century foreign and Latvian drama. Special attention of the investigation is focused on Stumbre's drama's innovative character manifested by her search for a personal and individual manner of writing, stressing the synthesis of pre-modernist, modernist and post-modernist drama.
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Outline of the Content of the Doctoral Thesis The first part "Search for Modernist Aesthetics in Lelde Stumbre's Early Creative Work" deals with the development of Latvian drama in the 1950s - 1970s which paved the road for a new generation of dramatists possessing a different, artistically individual view of the life of an individual and the nation as a whole. In the late 1970s, the relations between the center and the periphery were gradually shifting in Latvian drama. In the context of its development, the investigation discloses the methods of forming the play characteristic of Lelde Stumbre's manner in the early period of her work (the late 1970s) when the author balanced in the border zone between psychological drama and drama of the absurd. In the first chapter "The Introduction of the Theme of the Protagonist's Tragic Doom and Impasse in Lelde Stumbre's Play Drawings on the Sand". In this chapter the author of the research investigates the situation of tragic doom and impasse in Stumbre's play Drawings in the Sand and establishes the domination of the poetics of the absurd. In the concentrated form characteristic of the absurd, the dramatist expresses the feeling of the protagonist's tragic doom. Man's tragic situation is defined by the complicated inability to find the essence of the lost identity. The play states the impasse to which man's consciousness has come to. The dramatist tries to look at the tragic impermanence of an individual's existence as a set of diagnoses of psychological character. She highlights the impasse of the situation of the protagonists of the play Tina and Millers which is very precisely indicated by the ring compositional structure, so characteristic of drama of the absurd. The characters' psychological study is important to Stumbre in order to comprehend what is happening in their secret inner self. This is expressed by the atmosphere of the play, finely shaded off in half-tones and by her specific way of creating dialogues which discloses the conflict of the play rooted in irreconcilable opposition of the desirable and the reality in the characters' souls. The chapter also introduces drama of the absurd, its origin and main theoretical principles. The evaluation of the parallels between Stumbre's play and late modernist drama is based on the plays and theoretical works of the classics of drama of the absurd, like Eugene lonesco, Samuel Beckett, Friedrich Durrenmatt and Slawomir Mrožek. The second chapter "Modeling of the Protagonist's Isolation in Lelde Stumbre's Play Andersons" shows the way Stumbre models the situation of the protagonist's self-isolation, provoked by social totalitarianism, pushing the idea of man's

freedom to the fore much sharper. Very precisely, in the regime of 'killing the time', so typical of drama of the absurd, Stumbre spotlights the senselessness of her character's existence and models man's life space as a closed and unchanging system. The absurd model of 'the Andersons family' perfectly reflects an individual's situation in Soviet society, disclosing the mechanism of the psychology of power and subjection and the ruling role of power in those relations. The play Andersons is analyzed as one of the conceptually most precise examples of drama of the absurd in Stumbre's creative work. The author emphasizes the aspects of the structure of the form characteristic of drama of the absurd, namely, the principles of constructing characters, the elements of building the space of the play and the linguistic means. In her play Andersons Stumbre fully respects the demand of the theorists of drama of the absurd for anti-psvcholoqical approach and denial of any tradition, that is, refusal of using intrigue, investigation of characters, strict architecture of the paly, interconnection of cause and effect. The third chapter "Expression of the Space of Spiritual Freedom in Lelde Stumbre's Play So that the Road can be Seen closely looks at spatial structure, so characteristic of Stumbre's drama built of multi-dimensional living space - the real and physical versus the irrational and metaphysical. The metaphor of the road serves as an axis confronting the two spatial layers and emphasizes the expression of movement and the search for freedom in the play So that the Road can be Seen. The road in this play is shown as a labyrinth to be treated dynamically that one has to go through and endure a whole succession of trials. The labyrinth as a sign of the modern world, having so many possibilities of artistic and philosophical generalization, shatters the world made orderly in an individual's consciousness with an aim to show the only one right way that of spiritual search. The protagonist Gustavs has to follow this way to solve the identity problems of his existence. The form of the play So that the Road can be Seen is seemingly simple, but a wide associative field is hidden in it and it opens up many possibilities for disclosing the theme of the way of spiritual search. Stumbre's ideological and philosophical search is nearing the opinion of the founder of archetypal psychology Karl Jung concerning the search for Oriental wisdom in the soul of Western man, in man's non-consciousness because the soul is precisely and irrevocably in the middle. The second part "The Period of Synthesis of Pre-modernist and Modernist Drama in Lelde Stumbre's Creative Work" gives an outline of the development of Latvian drama in the 1980s. It shows Stumbre's link with the tradition of the drama, first, when she turns towards treating painful themes in her cycle of plays devoted to country

life The Red-haired Farm-hand, Jānis, Next Spring and Kronis and, secondly, when she respects the normative aesthetics of the drama. The investigation lays stress on her gradual assimilation of the elements of modernist drama of mid-twentieth century (existentialist drama, drama of the absurd, epic theatre) in her plays of the early 90s Killer and Killer, Strangers here and others. The first chapter "Lelde Stumbre's Drama The Red-haired Farm-hand. Return to the Tradition" evaluates essential elements of building the structure of a play which gives the author of the thesis the ground to speak about the reflection of 'a well made play' in The Red-haired Farm-hand. The play is built following the demands of normative aesthetics of the drama for the unity of action, time and place. In connection with this play it is possible to speak about a purposeful organization of the plot, the arrangement of separate elements in a definite succession - exposition, rising action, complication, climax, and denouement. Stumbre emphasizes the central position of the protagonist introduced in the play. Erta's nature is excellently revealed in a short, concentrated segment of time, which casts light on important past events that strongly influence Erta's fate and the further development of the action. Erta's situation unmistakably is that of the modern woman of the 20 century. Although shown in a classically patriarchal environment inseparably linked with her social functions, Erta's complicated situation registers a cluster of feminine diagnoses locked in the subconscious. This reveals the conflict building basis of the play - Erta's inability to link her responsibility for her own life and for her feminine identity with her responsibility for her ancestral home, the land and the people around her. The play becomes a mysterious metaphor thanks to the red-haired farm-hand Johans - a mystically mysterious character endowed with demonical power. The high level of relativity given to Johans' character makes it possible for the conflict built up in Erta's soul to come to light more precisely and thus successfully implement the possibilities of synthesis of pre-modernist and modernist drama. The second chapter "Relationship of Traditionalism and Artistic Relativity in Lelde Stumbre's Play Kronis" investigates an introduction of a socially active theme, namely, the tragic fate of the nation in the turn of epochs, as well as the surrealistic treatment of spiritual sphere in Sumbre's one act diptych play. The content of the play indicates links with the tradition, however its genre, composition and style reflect features of modernist drama. In this chamber style play over the mosaic of small episodes of the lives of Kronis, Salmēns, Māra and Kaža - its four characters, there

gathers a huge, copious spiritual field which widens the borders of the concrete historical time. This enables the author of the present thesis to make a conclusion concerning the reduction of the drama form to a chamber play in which the empirical layer is subjected to psychologically and philosophically rich treatment. The two one act plays are not linked by their content, but by a common idea of why and how in important moments of their fate the traditional sacral values of Latvians - home and family, being the moral union of the people - are destroyed, thus exposing to danger the identity of the whole nation and an individual. The existential positioning of the issue of choice, responsibility, feelings of quilt and forgiveness, everlasting love for a person and one's native land lets spiritual things materialize and material things become brittle and acquire the form of spiritual existence as a result of surrealistic shifts. In the third chapter "Parallels of Existentialist Drama in Lelde Stumbre's Plays Killer and Killer and Strangers here " attention is focused on the introduction of conceptually the most precisely expressed theme of an individual's freedom as 'normal human situation', finding parallels with Jean-Paul Sartre's 'situation theatre'. Within the framework of 'the project of man's creation', typical of 'situation theatre', Stumbre's protagonists, Lote in the play Killer and Killer and Simona in Strangers here, are able to implement all their potential of virtue and free will. Stumbre allows her protagonists to define themselves in the reality, in a continuous border situation, in which they are forced to act according to their moral experience under the pressure of conditions. Stumbre's protagonists are not able and do not wish to overcome their illusions about themselves or to understand that responsibility for their identity pulls them out of their innocence and ignorance. The circle of active conduct of both Lote and Simona closes in the same place where it began. The apocalyptic shade of their life's 'situation' has received a destructive character, not that of a new and higher perspective. The fourth chapter "Reflections of the Tradition of Epic Theatre in Lelde Stumbre's Play Strangers here" establishes and analyzes the synthesis of dramatic theatre and epic theatre in Stumbre's drama. The distinctive feature of this play is montage of episodes. Thus we can speak about the chronic or montage principle, characteristic of Brecht's epic theatre in which a succession of episodes creates a unified structure, with each episode being perceivable as an independent whole at the same time. Stumbre borrows the didactic and educational nature of her play from epic theatre, making her protagonist Simona join the relative time and space of the theatre performance against her will. Jussi and Sols - manifestations of the divine and the

devilish principles - alienate and distance, thus implementing the reproduction and evaluation of events, typical of epic theatre, and spotlighting the fatality of Simona's situation. This broadens the zone of perception of the play, allowing us to see the characters in another category - metaphorical, symbolical and poetic. Simona is given three opportunities (in the times of John the Baptist, in not so distant past in Latvia and in near future in a higher society salon in France) to relive the causality of the crime committed by her, in order to get to know her victim and to realize the real nature of her existence. The third part "Traces of Influence of Post-modern Drama in Lelde Stumbre's Plays" deals with the introduction of the stylistics of post-modernism in Stumbre's plays written in the late 90s / was Dancing and Playing, The Actors, Persijs the Divine and Feelings. Stumbre respects the possibility declared by post-modernists for peaceful coexistence of avant-garde and tradition in the search for a new meaning. She develops game relationship on different levels, echoing the apocalyptic feeling of the end of the 20 century when the belief in generally accepted values and notions and in the idea of holism and unity was lost. Conceptually the most precise implementation of the techniques characteristic of post-modernist drama is achieved in Lelde Sumbre's plays / was Dancing and Playing and The Actors written in the late 90s. The first chapter "Traces of Influence of Traditional Symbols of Culture in Lelde Stumbre's Play / was Dancing and Playing" investigates the inter-textuality of this play written by Stumbre and the play of the Latvian classic Janis Rainis / was Playing and Dancing. She also introduces the issue of authorship as it was at the end of the 20 century. In her play / was Dancing and Playing Stumbre uses the possibilities offered by post-modernist age to recreate the tradition, to read classical texts in a new way and to re-code cultural codes in order to find new impulses of the reality, spiritual tension and openness to changes which can free the routine and the consciousness captured by the generally accepted inertia and make it possible to create freely and perfect oneself and the world by doing so. The dramatist gives an impulse to the merging of the rational and the irrational by transforming the space of life and art (literature, theatre, cinema) into a new, united - virtual reality which in this case is marked by the dimension of a dream. The attempts of the plays to broaden the artistically aesthetic borders by acquiring post-modernist stylistics, namely games with the beautiful and the ugly, the high and the low, with the techniques of hinting and quoting. All this shatters the traditional notions of the genre and composition canons,
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however in the majority of cases preserves the link with the tradition and does not lose the wish to create a stable system of values. Deep inside Stumbre is not a postmodernist author. She merely accepts the outer formal shell of post-modernist art in order to disguise the conflicts characteristic of the early period of her work, in order not to lose the realization that the things inside man are much more valuable than those outside, and in order not to lose hope. The dramatist creates a modern dialogue with Rainis' text leading her protagonists into the pre-world of the myth of Rainis' play / was Playing and Dancing. Thus she joins in a daring performance, manifesting herself via a game. She offers a chance to get saved from the despondency of the non-realization of one's personality by living and creating the sense of one's living. Stumbre's play / was Dancing and Playing is a literary text, drama in prose. It is closer to the form of mythological monologue than of traditional drama. In the second chapter "The Interpretationally Many-sided Character of Lelde Stumbre's Play The Actors", the play The Actors is analyzed as one of the most universal plays written by her. It clearly shows the tendency characteristic of Stumbre's drama to be based on the normative principal guidelines of pre-modernist drama and to experiment with new stylistic means of the drama at one and the same time. She assimilates the features of both modernist (character deformation, retaining the interest in the individuality) and post-modernist drama (disintegration of characters and meaning, search for alternative existence, approval of principles of carnivalization and game). This makes it possible to speak about logical and equal co-existence of three traditions in Stumbre's drama rooted in the principles of post-modernist pluralism and democracy. It offers a possibility of diverse understanding of the play. The play The Actors marks Stumbre's tendencies to overcome modernism. She tries to subject the tragedy of modern man (represented in the play by three outcasts, former actors Ella, Helena and Peteris) bound by the restrictions of Western civilization, to the idea of eternal repetition, which is closer to the Orient. The dramatist sees the opportunity of a distinguished and meaningful life only in incompleteness and movement. The third period of Stumbre's creative work may be said to mark her dramatic manner as becoming more consistent and her artistic conception - more precise.

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