Matúš Benža/ Slovakia – Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava
Theatre helps us to see a different perspective from our own. Theatre encourages us to take risks and to advocate for new voices. Theatre can be also a catalyst for societal changes, promoting social discourse, dialogue and inclusivity. It is a cultural phenomenon that shines light on uncomfortable topics and demands that society closely examines itself in the mirror.
Theatre can also bring us joy and remind us that we are not alone. Not only are we sharing space and an experience with the artists on stage, but we are also sharing the experience with fellow audience members, strengthening our sense of community and belonging.
This desire for a shared experience has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21. On a global scale, the pandemic has led to a dramatic loss of human life and major economic disruptions. Its disastrous impact is even more apparent in relation to social bonds. New social-distancing measures and public health provisions have erected new barriers not only between artists and their audiences, but also between family members and friends.
In this month’s edition of “The Show Must Go On/Offline” – a series of international discussions with performing arts professionals hosted by the Arts and Theatre Institute in Prague – we will discuss individual and societal challenges of life under COVID-19. We will also examine the community role of performing arts before, and its transformation throughout, the contactless reality of the pandemic. And furthermore, can performing arts help in repairing the cut ties, broken bonds and other ailments within our communities?
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, March 18, you can also look forward to the thirdepisode of the new podcast series SHOW OFF. This next audio essay on the topic of "Uncompressability" was devised by Jiří Šimek- Actor, Theatre Artistand co-founder of Ufftenživot Theatre Group. 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.
- After filling out the registration form, you will receive an email with a link to access the webinar.
- If possible, please register 15 minutes before the start of the event to allow time to complete the registration process.
- Webinars will be held in English.