Playing Upon Biographical Myths: William Shakespeare and Lesia Ukrainka as Characters in Contemporary Drama
Keywords:Biography, author as character, drama, William Shakespeare, Don Nigro, Lesia Ukrainka, Neda Nezhdana
The article sets out to explore two plays by contemporary playwrights, one American (Don Nigro, Loves Labours Wonne), the other Ukrainian (Neda Nezhdana, And Still I will Betray You), focusing on William Shakespeare and Lesia Ukrainka, respectively, within the framework of “the author as character” subgenre of fictional (imaginative) biography. Accordingly, the article considers the correlation between the factual and the fi ctional as one of its foci of attention. Drawing upon a variety of theoretical approaches (Paul Franssen, Ton Hoenselaars, Ira Nadel, Aleid Fokkema, Michael MacKeon, Ina Shabert and others), the article summarizes the principal characteristics of “the author as character” subgenre and proceeds to discuss how they operate in the dramas under scrutiny. The analysis makes it abundantly clear that in Nigro’s and Nezhdana’s plays the balance between fact and fi ction is defi nitively tipped in favor of the latter. By centering their (quasi) biographical plays on highly mythologized artists of national standing, both dramatists aimed at demythologizing these cult fi gures, inevitably placing them, however, within new mythical plots combining a Neo-Romantic vision of the artist as demiurge, with a Neo-Baroque as well as fin de siècle apology of death and a postmodern denial of one objective reality.
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