Ukrainian theater censorship in the Russian empire (the late 19th c.)
Keywords:censorship, restrictions, Ukrainian theatre, dramaturgy, Russian empire, corruption, Directorate General of Press
The article touches upon the specific features of the Russian imperial government censorship policy towards the Ukrainian theater. It characterizes main censorship institutions and regulatory acts, which concerned the theater. The author states that the theatre life in the Russian empire was subjected to numerous regulations and limitations. Some of them, including the acts of 1876, 1881 and 1883, concerned exclusively the dramas and stage performances in Ukrainian language. Their general aim was to narrow the usage of the Ukrainian language in cultural life. The local authorities could provide their own restrictions as well. The Ukrainian play-writers and entrepreneurs were obliged to get special permission on every stage performance in Ukrainian. Additionally, both theatrical productions and concerts of songs in Ukrainian had to be accompanied by the ones in Russian. According to the regulations, the stories of the Ukrainian dramas should not touch upon vexed social and national questions. At the same time, translations of the dramas into Ukrainian used to be restricted by the censorship. Despite the severe restrictions constituted by the central government, the Ukrainian theater censorship largely depended on the local censors, who were able to either ban or permit certain dramas and stage performances. To get the necessary permissions play-writers, actors and entrepreneurs either used their personal charisma to influence the Russian civil servants or simply relied on corruption, which was highly widespread. In conclusion, the author states that the censorship affected negatively the creative work of the Ukrainian dramatists who were forced to re-write their stories to make them acceptable for censorship. Thus, in general, the government censorship policy was unable to suppress the development of the Ukrainian theater in the late 19th c.