Translated from Macedonian: Milan Damjanoski
Macedonian literature, in its rather discontinued development, did not go through all of the various stages that are characteristic of Western European literatures, but rather made quick leaps from one literary period to another. Thus, the literary genres only started to stabilize after the establishment of the modern Macedonian state, which is the reason why Macedonian literature prior to this had no official plays or theatrical productions.
Though the seeds of Macedonian drama can be detected in Macedonian folklore and its carnival ceremonies or religious and ritual festivities, no drama in its modern form was ever registered by any of the collectors of folklore materials. The closest form to what we today perceive as drama were the descriptions of folk customs, rites and rituals which are related to religious and church holidays, or to key moments in the life of people (birth, marriage and death).
More recent histories of Macedonian theatrology claim that the theater as an institution has existed on Macedonian soil as early as 6th century B.C.E (a logical conclusion, due to the fact that there are a number of ancient amphitheaters on the territory of Macedonia, which were most certainly served as a stage for dramatic performances), though unfortunately there is no known written evidence of dramatic production by our ancient predecessors.
The first author of dramas in Macedonian literature is Jordan Hadzhi Konstantinov – Dzhinot, who wrote plays in the 19th century but without much literary merit.
The true founder of Macedonian drama is considered to be Vojdan Chernodrinski. He was the one who laid the foundations of Macedonian drama and theater at the beginning of the 20th century. It was his dramatic opus that Macedonian drama built upon, though modestly, during the period following World War I in the then Vardar Macedonia. We shall just mention Anton Panov, Risto Krle and Vasil Iljoski who comprise the famous trio of playwrights who initiated the era of the domestic drama in the inter-war period.
Macedonian drama production reaches its true creative intensity only after World War II, with the establishment of the Republic of Macedonia (as part of the former Yugoslav federation). One of the major events for the development of drama at that time is the staging of the play Twig in the Wind by Kole Chashule, a play which is considered by contemporary Macedonian literary theory to represent a milestone marking the boundaries of the two major stages of development of Macedonian drama – the domestic and modern drama.
Following the breakthrough made by Kole Chashule and his Twig in the Wind (1957), Macedonian drama departs from the domestic drama era and heads to explore new literary domains, such as modernism and postmodernism. Macedonian dramatists, in line with artistic trends and tendencies in Europe, introduce a new era in Macedonian drama.
Parallel to the drama production during the period 1945-1990, there is also a rich production of works of literary criticism that accompany and describe all the current plays and productions.