UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Belarusian Dramaturgist Simeon of Polotsk, 1650 – 1680

07 May 2024, 11:00 am–12:00 pm

A photo of Simeon of Polotsk's work

His Journey from Bilingual Academic Drama to Court Theatre. A SSEES Research Student seminar with Alesia Mankouskaya

This event is free.

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221 Hong Kong Alumni room
Bentham House, UCL Faculty of Laws
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens

The Orthodox monk Simeon of Polotsk, revered as an educator, poet, and dramatist, left a significant mark on literary history. His works can be categorized chronologically into two distinct periods: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Muscovy. These periods exhibit significant differences not only in stylistic and genre-thematic aspects but also in the languages and alphabets used.

The earlier, Grand Duchy of Lithuania period includes noteworthy works such as the Christmas dialogues "Pastoral Conversations" and the Academic drama "Verses on Good Friday." However, Simeon's two plays written for Tsar Alexis of Russia's court theatre between 1673 and 1678 demonstrate a notable shift towards secular literature.

A structural and stylistic analysis of these plays reveals adherence to the canons of Academic Drama and the poetic rules established by Latinist poets of the Renaissance era. Moreover, they contribute significantly to the development of Early Modern professional dramaturgy in Eastern Europe.


Alesia Mankouskaya is a PhD candidate, theatre historian, professional actress, and director. She completed her bachelor's degree at the leading Russian Theatre Academy (GITIS) in Moscow, where she studied acting, specializing in the Stanislavsky method, Michael Chekov technique, and the history of theatre. After working for over ten years with leading directors as a composer and actress in renowned theatres such as MXT and Lencom, as well as participating in TV serials, Alesia moved to London in 2009. There, she was offered the Butler scholarship and Offenheim scholarship to pursue a Master's degree in Performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Alesia has directed theatrical performances and operas, won several international competitions as an opera singer and actress, and is now dedicated to her studies exploring the history of theatre in Belarus and Ukraine in the seventeenth century under the supervision of Professor Richard Butterwick-Pawlikovski.

Image credit: https://nav.shm.ru