The World Upside Down (-2020)
How do you reflect on a year like we‘ve just been through? A year that occurred on so many layers simultaneously that it was hard catching breath in-between its enduring change, a dull sameness bereft of many things we deemed constants. Amidst this new normative, we lost proper good dining, clubbing, live entertainment, and gained, very unceremoniously, a whole new way of approaching the creative production for live encounters and hybrid creation.
For years and years to come, we will reflect on 2020 as the year during which (for a moment) artistic practice lost the live encounter. While those who had the resources vigorously worked on knitting the digital curtain ever tighter (check out battleROYAL’s exciting mid-pandemic advances into uncharted territory) to investigate alternative ways of responding to works of creative process, others had massive problems just paying their rents.
Although the stages remained dark, artistic work still helped us to understand the world. For many, being creative was and still is the most important coping mechanism. This year showed us that all of us – wether the talented people on stage, the highly skilled colleagues behind the stage, and the diverse and wonderful people orbiting around to support these microcosms – are essential to our human condition. While there are a few promising encounters for a very few digital endeavours, our stages will remain dark until we get this virus under control. We are still holding our breaths. Ready for the plunge.
Coping Mechanisms (2020)
2020 was a year in limbo. We decelerated massively. The production of encounters, be it of theatrical or any other cultural kind, now happens in solitude. All those who once dedicated their professional lives writing, concepting, composing, building, rehearsing with, dancing for, singing together, thinking through art, theatre, and performance kept on going. Their creative minds kept turning. Ideas kept materialising. New, radical ideas formed. Old ideas were revisited. New frames formed around them. All ready to launch. I believe that the creative energies for the cultural encounters of the next decade or so already amount on the desks, in the minds, and in the bodies of the people who were silenced in order to save us all. We went on to write, create, imagine, and ideate – just differently. As we are bracing ourselves to come together again, we start imagining the world after the gash – and the art that will thrive within it.
Writing has been my therapy, researching and concepting my escape, show storyboarding my mechanism to cope. My practice has become a place to gather my thoughts, to turn them into energy that fuel various approaches to dream up entire worlds. Every state of mind I had over this year ended up being a show on paper. Endless hours of research and storyboarding manifested in something in the drawer. Time will tell when they will come out. In the meantime, let’s wear a mask, keep the distance, but don’t stop imagining what comes next! Although we’re in limbo, Utopia has rarely been this close!
Ready. Together. (2020-)
2021. Now that we’re on the road to safety, let’s imagine what we can create from the ruins of ourselves. It’s time to revive old networks. Make new partners. Look at saving our industry by overhauling its foundations and reinventing its purpose. No matter how far we’ve innovated over the past few months, the digital curtain will lift and we will be sharing a space again, which must be a space of many hybridities.
Let’s get back on the quest for equality and extend its reach into all aspects of theatrical production. Let’s not make the theatre about the stories that (*we* think) most people are entertained by. Instead, let‘s make it about the stories that haven’t been told yet. Let’s be experimental. Let’s dare to enthral our audiences again. Let’s try out new show concepts. Let’s tell stories from hitherto underprivileged viewpoints. Let’s add more narratives to old stories. Let‘s tell new stories for a new generation. Let’s make our teams more diverse. Let’s pave the way to more equal creative communities by the very practices we were asked to withdraw from their ontological places over the past few months. Let’s find hope in the theatre again and shape this new era with all our ideas!
2021 will be about manifesting these visions, embedding them in everything that will be coming back, changing what we deem necessary – but this time, actually actively doing it. However, life isn’t a to-do-list, but what happens in between our tasks. Let those ideas guide us when we shape our future in long-term planning as well as body-to-body in the rehearsal room, when we address our industry‘s hardship during the crisis, when we have to find ways to cope with the existing injustices, out-dated normatives, and introduce new far-reaching social security measures. Amongst many more.
Let‘s heal, together.