Queer Russian Drama

Within the Volkswagen Freigeist research group, I work on queer Russian drama. My research seeks to challenge the widely held perception of Russian culture as an arena for exclusively heteronormative discourse by uncovering the vibrant world of queer drama from the years before the 1917 Revolution until today. I examine queerness as an object of artistic exploration and a performative strategy that has enjoyed popularity on page and stage in Russia even at a time when homosexuality was criminalized (pre-1922; 1934-1993). I zoom in on the stories of queer lives staged in theaters across Russia and complement them with the analysis of production texts (plays and librettos) and interviews with directors to identify languages that the Russian theater has developed and used to inscribe queerness into Russian cultural imagination.

The monograph I am writing in sync with these explorations is a short introduction to a history of Russian queer theater, which traces the development of queer dramatic writing and its performance since the Silver Age until the Putin era.

As part of this research project, I have also compiled and translated an anthology of contemporary queer plays by Russian playwrights that came out with Bloomsbury Methuen Drama in October 2021.