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CEO: Expert Council aims to return theatre to its content & significance [COMMENTARY]

26 January 2024 17:54 (UTC+04:00)
CEO: Expert Council aims to return theatre to its content & significance [COMMENTARY]
Laman Ismayilova
Laman Ismayilova
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An Expert Council has been established under the Azerbaijan Culture Ministry to assess the content of the repertoires of theatrical and entertainment institutions and performances prepared on the basis of state orders.

The Council will monitor the compliance of the repertoire and performances with the profile of theatre, national, and moral values.

Headed by Honoured Artist, Doctor of Art History, Professor, and Chairman of the Council of Theatre Directors of Turkic-Speaking Peoples Israfil Israfilov, the Expert Council on Theatre consists of eminent cultural and artistic figures, sociologists, and even psychologists.

Council member, founder and director of the dOM Independent Theatre, and head of the creative laboratory of experimental theatre at the Azerbaijan Theatre Workers Union, Tarlan Rasulov, shared with Azernews his opinion about the creation of the Expert Council.

"There is an old actor's joke about an artist who, when asked by his doctor what he was complaining about, usually replies: the repertoire. There's only one part of the joke. When a spectator looks for an interesting show, what comes to mind first is which theatre to go to tonight. He encounters the title of the same play in several theatres. Clearly, there are so many directors and so many plays, and each of them differs in the author's interpretation, but... this is a disproportion. Due to the lack of synchronisation between theatres, dialogue, and reconciliation of repertoire plans, we put the audience in a situation where they are cut off from many works of the national and world theatrical repertoire and, in particular, contemporary drama. It is important to maintain a balance between classics and modernity, experiments and textbook titles," Tarlan Rasulov said.

He also emphasized that the expansion of the boundaries of audience perception is impossible without the theatre's social responsibility to the public.

"It manifests itself first of all in the formation of the repertoire. It is important to think not in terms of individual titles, not in terms of the moment, but, as they say, to "play for the long term", to form the theatre of tomorrow. It is necessary to see behind the trees (posters) the forest (a picture of the theatre on a national scale). Theatre should be different, colourful, intelligent, relevant, respecting traditions, but not dying out, but renewing, aware of its mission and supertask. The repertoire of the Azerbaijani theatre is one of the most convincing and effective conductors of the national idea. It is a mirror of society, reflecting the vector of the country's development. It is a mistake if theatres think only in terms of audience occupancy and box office. In this way, it is possible to slip into lowbrow entertainment or exploit the classics to the point where the audience will be overfed with them and will cease to perceive them, to connect to the performances with their minds and hearts. In order to prevent all this and to establish communication between theatre and society and theatres all over the country, the Expert Council under the Culture Ministry was created," the Council Member said.

"It is enough to look at the composition of the Expert Council, which includes Israfil Israfilov, Maryam Alizadeh, Ali Amirli, and Aydin Talibzadeh, to make sure that these people strive to improve the cultural situation in our country. These are people not from the outside but from within the cultural community, representatives of different spheres and cultural institutions, public and private. It is very important that the Ministry of Culture has decided to turn to current practitioners and experts in order to transform and improve the theatre situation in the country, he added.

Speaking about the main goal of the Expert Council, Tarlan Rasulov said that it strives to counter the self-censorship of theatres, which within themselves often create conditions that are insurmountable for new authors and texts, preferring to "feed" the audience performances and plays that are convenient for the theatre.

"The Expert Council aims to return the theatre to its content and significance, to help overcome the autonomy and hermetic nature of some theatrical institutions, and to become an effective tool for overcoming templates in repertoires and minds. Azerbaijani theatre should and can not only gather spectators in the audience, it should and can unite the country. The main mission of the Expert Council is to preserve and multiply the talent in the repertoire of Azerbaijani theatre," the CEO added.

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Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @lmntypewriterrr

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