The Show Must Go ON/OFF-line: “ZOOMing Theatre” Green Thursdays, a cycle of international, online discussions
25 January 2021,3-5 PM CET online
Tereza Dobiasova / CZ – author, curator, director and cultural manager, author of an interactive online performance „Free Like Birds“
Patrícia Paixão / PT – producer, creator and actress, and a member of Teatro Estúdio Fontenova, member of the staging team of online production of Karel Čapek’s play „The White Plague“
Attila Balogh/ HU, actor, writer and theatre director, author of online project „Y“
Thaddeus Phillips / USA, theatre director, author of an interactive project “ZOO MOTEL”
Ádám Fónai / HU, Károli Gáspár University in Budapest
Szabó Attila / HU, Hungarian Theatre Museum and Institute, Károli Gáspár University in Budapest
In the days of the coronavirus pandemic, going to the theatre is no longer an option. Constant quarantining forces us to stay in front of the computer screen; we work from there, attend classes from there, watch movies from there. But can we also experience theatre from there? Is it possible to adapt this shared community experience to the online space without alienating audiences? Can we maintain the close connection – which seems to be at stake – between theatre-goers and theatre-makers without leaving our living rooms?
Optimistic and ambitious attempts have been made to live-stream plays, or to use online platforms (such as Zoom) as central elements of certain theatrical performances. Directors, actors and playwrights are trying their hardest to keep delivering a special experience in this way, but the practice raises many questions. The most important is: how can audiences be reached in these uncertain times and in such unusual circumstances? Let’s hear some answers from the creators themselves! The new episode of our international webinar series (The Show Must Go ON/OFF-Line) will focus on projects that were explicitly intended to work in the virtual environment. Our international guests, Attila Balogh, Patrícia Paixão, and Tereza Dobiášová, authors of lockdown period theatre projects, will discuss both the difficulties and new opportunities arising from this work when they sit down with our two moderators: Ádám Fónai and Attila Szabó.
The online “Green Thursdays” discussion with guests from the ranks of theatre and dance artists, curators, cultural managers and theorists from the Czech Republic and abroad reflects the sensitivity and response of the field of performing arts to current social issues. The main topic is the adaptation of theatre, dance and the new circus to the virtual environment as a result of epidemic-prevention measures and issues related to the sustainability of the quality of life of contemporary civilization and the performing arts. Although it would seem that the critical need for social change under discussion in the areas of ecology, economics, politics and culture has been overshadowed in recent months by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, in the performing arts, concerns are beginning to spread about the sustainability of the field itself, fuelled by the chaos arising from various rules aimed at social distancing, the deteriorating economic situation and the unpredictable behaviour of audiences. The defensive reaction is the rapid adaptation of theatre and dance creations to the virtual environment. Is this hybrid existence in real as well as virtual space-time a blind alley for a field that is based on live contact with the audience, or does it open up new possibilities and worlds for them? Will viewers stay at home forever? How are artists, cultural event organizers, public support providers and art educational institutions responding to this crisis? How are they orienting themselves, what do they believe in and what are they pursuing? How do they communicate? Together with our guests, we map the embryonic strategies of the performing arts in adapting to the global paradigm shift.
On Thursday, February 25, you can also look forward to the second episode of the new podcast series SHOW OFF. This next audio essay on the topic of “Theatre as a Cultural Institution” was devised by Alice Koubová, a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and a teacher. The podcast series of audio essays on the performing arts in the (post-)covid period is available in both Czech and English at www.showoff.cz and is inspired by the international “Green Thursdays” discussions.
The series is organised by ATI’s International Cooperation Department as part of its Promotion of Czech Performing Arts Abroad program and in cooperation with partners from the European project Create to Connect -> Create to Impact and the network Performing Arts Central Europe (PACE.V4). The webinars are held in English in the Zoom platform every fourth Thursday of the month. During the discussion meetings, viewers have the opportunity to ask the guests questions. Playbacks of the meetings are subsequently available on the YouTube channel jsmeIDU.
Webinars will take place on the ZOOM platform; it is not necessary to download the application in advance.
Patrícia Paixão is a producer, creator and actress, and a member of Teatro Estúdio Fontenova. Her background includes a BA in Communication and Culture and an MA in Euroculture. She is currently pursuing an MA in Performing Arts. The live-streamed online performance Doença Branca – Bílá Nemoc – Enfermedad Blanca by the Czech playwright Karel Čapek was created by Anna Lunaková, Eduardo Dias, and Patrícia Paixão, and premiered at the height of the lockdown in Portugal on 23 May 2020. In this staging of excerpts of the text, actors were brought together from different locations and origins (Brazil, Portugal, Spain, Canada and the Czech Republic). Just as the pandemic is both general and global, so too was this staging. Just as we are advised to “socially distance”, physical distance was executed. Just as Čapek drew attention to war and conflict, and the weaknesses of the health care system, so did we. We did not know whether it was theatre or performance; whether it was new media. It was an expression, a manifestation, and a reconnection to create.
Tereza Dobiášová is an author, curator, director and cultural manager based in Prague. She abandoned professional classical acting theatre for theatre as a means of social integration. Later she became a Central-European pioneer of children’s museums. Recently Tereza has focused on developing theatre-, art – and online-based formats for intensive audience participation. Free like Birds is Tereza’s originally interactive on-site performance for teens and preteens inspired by a Persian 13th Century mystical poem about a flock of birds flying over seven valleys to find their king, which was developed in 2018 in collaboration with the Italian theatre ensemble TPO and some of her Czech colleagues for the Czech “Gallery of Playing” Sladovna. In 2020, this interactive online performance premiered at the National Theatre in Prague.
Attila Balogh graduated from the University of Arts in Targu Mures, acquiring an MA in both acting and directing. In the first years of his career, he worked as a freelancer and directed theatre performances in Hungarian theatres in Romania. During the pandemic, Attila wrote and directed the futuristic, bitter show “Y” which uses a GoPro and a 5G transmitter to do the whole thing live. Although the spectator is not physically present, one of the main goals of the show was to remain live, so ‘technically’ it is still theatre.
Thaddeus Phillips is a theatre director originally from Denver, Colorado, who creates visually stunning and inventive theatre that crosses stylistic boundaries and embraces a wide variety of themes. Thaddeus directs using stage design as a major tool to devise ever-shifting scenes and cinematic images that remain purely theatrical. In our talk, Thaddeus will present his live immersive Cinematic Theatre Play ZOO MOTEL.