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Migrant Artists and Precarious Labour in Contemporary Russian Theatre


This chapter explores Russian theatrical productions devoted to migration from post-Soviet countries, focusing on issues related to precarious labour. Using Onur Kömürcü-Nobrega’s theory of affective labour, we study Russian migrant theatre in which artists of migrant backgrounds perform acts of memory, which are often contextualized by their artistic biographies, plays, and performances, and the conditions of cultural production. We argue that the lack of productions addressing the issue of migration in contemporary Russian theatre is caused by a double pressure of precarity that many migrant artists experience—as workers of independent theatres and as migrants. Nevertheless, the recent productions in Teatr.doc demonstrate the intense process of seeking new aesthetics that would respond both to the aspirations of artists with a migrant background and to an audience interested in the presence of these artists on stage. Our examples include Aqyn-Opera (Teatr.doc, 2012), The Place of the Skull (Moscow Youth Theatre and Ayan theatre, 2020), and Non-Standard (Teatr.doc, 2020).


  • Migrant theatre
  • Memory
  • Precarious labour
  • Russian theatre
  • Post-Soviet space

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Simon, M., Sklez, V. (2023). Migrant Artists and Precarious Labour in Contemporary Russian Theatre. In: Meerzon, Y., Wilmer, S. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Theatre and Migration . Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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