By Eileen Kunkler
In September, the Center for Slavic and East European Studies welcomed a new director, Joseph Brandesky, the Martha W. Farmer Endowed Professor in the Department of Theatre at Ohio State Lima. In 1988, Brandesky joined the Department of Theatre at The Ohio State University at Lima and was promoted to professor in 2003. He served as associate director of the Center for Slavic and East European Studies in 2013-14 and assisted in the drafting of CSEES’ 2014-18 Title VI grant application. Since 2012, Brandesky has held split appointments between the Department of Theatre and the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures at the Columbus campus.
Throughout his career, Brandesky’s work has focused on theatre production and performance, Russian theatre and drama and Czech theatre. While at Ohio State, Brandesky has taught courses on Czech theatre, design and culture and led nine study abroad trips to the Czech Republic. Brandesky guest-curated the Strings Attached: The Living Tradition of Czech Puppets exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art; curated and organized a U.S. tour for Jaroslav Malina’s Retrospective Exhibit; produced and directed multiple productions at Ohio State Lima; and has extensive publications, including as contributing editor to the catalog Jaroslav Malina: Designs and Paintings.
Currently, Brandesky is working on an international project focusing on productions of Shakespeare plays in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, including the former Czechoslovakia. The first of three conferences was held in early November at the University of Hull, with conferences to follow in 2016 and 2017 at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, and at Ohio State. These conferences will explore the different ways Shakespeare plays have been created over the past century and a half, in particular focusing on the differing design strategies and scenic environments. Additionally, the project will encompass artistic exhibits, monographs on individual designers and particular trends and an edited collection of essays. Brandesky is serving as guest curator and catalogue editor for Shakespeare on Czech Stages, an exhibit to be held at the Columbus Museum of Art in winter 2017.
Departing director Yana Hashamova served for seven years, being appointed interim director in 2008 and director in 2009. During her tenure, the Slavic Center went through a period of unprecedented growth. Her accomplishments include overseeing two successful Title VI grant applications, the establishment of the Polish Studies and Slovene Research Initiatives and receiving the center’s first endowment from the Research Center of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts. In 2013, Hashamova became chair of the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures and was promoted to professor.
Read Brandesky’s Director’s Notes on the center’s history and mission.