Bulgarian radio drama first appeared in 1945, broadcasting live from the national studios. The immediate postwar years were difficult throughout the country, both in economic and political terms. The socialist revolution and takeover, on 9 September 1944, soon imposed strict criteria on dramatic creation and artistic achievement, presumably on world standards. Radio drama, as one of the key instruments in the new national, revolutionary symphony, could not but play in general harmony. It naturally developed according to patterns governed by the political authorities. It contributed to programmes devoted to promote conflict, action, heroes, virtues abounding in the young socialist doctrine. Russian plays and novels were selected and broadcast as master keys in the opening of popular minds to the new philosophy. Broadcasting slots allowed some room for the production of the emerging Bulgarian literature of the late nineteenth century. Plays and playwrights from other parts of the world remained ignored by those in power and, as a consequence, by the production teams and the general audience.
In the middle of the cranescape around Potsdamer Platz, one of the most questionable building projects of the reunified Berlin can currently be viewed. If one walks in an easterly direction along Potsdamerstrasse, on the left, just behind the Kammermusiksaal and the Philharmonie, one sees the scaffolding of Helmut Jahn's eleven-storey Sony Centre, which, in its triangular form, extends to the Potsdamer Platz. As can be gathered from the models and computer simulations found in the scarlet infobox on the adjoining Leipziger Platz, the Chicago architect is planning to construct a complex consisting of a forum, the Sony Europa Centre, an office tower and two office blocks. In conjunction with the Centre and the tower as the tallest element, these two office blocks—one pointing east toward Bellevuestrasse and the other pointing west toward the Philharmonie—form a triangle that circumscribes an oval forum. The office blocks, as well as the Centre and the tower, are steel and glass constructions whose rooms at the back will offer a view of the forum from floor to ceiling. The approximately 100-metre high office tower will assume dynamism and elegance by virtue of a glass façade that will extend sideways above and beyond the semicircular building.
As I ponder how we as performance theorists endeavour to analyse the question of context as it relates to theatrical activity, I am struck by the fact that this question has both micro and macro-cosmic implications. Certainly, we must address the far reaching ideological concerns that permeate any performance, but within specific parameters, within the confines of a particular performance, the interrelationship of material components demands that we deal with the physical presence that appears before us. This essay grapples with this problem of theatrical presence through adiscussion of visual perception.
An important shift occurred in the work of many analysts of performance in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a shift suggested by the title and the main argument of a book appearing at that time, Gerald Hinkle's 1979 Art as Event. Hinkle argued that critical understanding of the performing arts had been hindered by the application to them of strategies evolved in arts such as literature and painting, where temporal placement and duration were not so central a part of the experience. Instead of attempting to analyse a phenomenon like a theatrical performance as an art object, Hinkle suggested, it should rather be considered as an event, a shift in orientation that not only places more emphasis on the working out of the performance in a temporal dimension, but also on the embedding of the entire experience in a particular historical and cultural moment which normally operates on a more direct and conscious fashion in both the creative and the receptive processes than it does in such arts as literature and painting.
Over the last three years there has been much talk about a reform of the theatres in Bulgaria, following the 1997 governmental changes which had a real impact on cultural policies. It has seemed interesting for the purposes of this survey to contrast the points of view of a representative of the Ministry of Culture, Stefan Yankov, and of the Deputy Secretary of the Union of Bulgarian Artists, Alexander Jekov.