Post-Pandemic Theatre: The ‘after’ or the ‘against’?

I first used the term ‘Post-Pandemic Theatre’ as a self-made sarcastic term while I was writing an essay for the HfMT Dramaturgy Master of Arts department – during the first lockdown in March 2020. I would dare to say that back then, our imagination of the effects the new virus would have brought on our lives was quite limited. We were dealing for the first time in our lifetime with a global pandemic, and it wasn’t easy to forecast the near future. 

We found ourselves in the surprising situation of necessary physical distancing; performance productions stopped and theatre institutes closed. We accepted the challenge and we focused on online options.

A great number of theatre performances went stream. It was actually pretty amazing to be able to watch performances that we thought we had missed forever. For instance, I had the opportunity to watch Sophocles’ “Antigone” at Epidaurus Festival in Greece, directed by Lefteris Vogiatzis in 2006. A performance that became a legend, and the whole Athens was talking about it – even years after the premier. I thought that I would die without ever understanding why this event had such an impact, but now I do get it; I could be part of these conversations!

To return to our days, physical distancing still dominates our social behaviour and the pandemic is still our reality. Artistic projects and performances took over the digital world and an anticipated debate arose: the debate that brings the plus and minus of digitalisation of theatre performance to the table. It didn’t take long, and the term Post-Pandemic Theater was the topic for digital panels, titles on the news, and routine words in many articles. 

But what do we understand though, under the term ‘Post’? Do we agree that we are referring to the unavoidable change and transformation of theatre art as we know it until today, because of the pandemic? Or do we reflect a kind of resistance within the term ‘Post’, an opposition that comes directly from the core nature of theatre activity itself? 

I would like to consider theatre as the world’s most democratic place and the myth as the most reliable instrument to practice one’s rights; and maybe this is the kind of resistance that one can sense within the new term. No matter the circumstances, we insist on creating more and greater spaces that they operate against the injustice of our current societal system. If at the moment these spaces are mostly digital, it doesn’t make them less powerful. The question is not about the medium being used, but how we can remain creative as artists and connected as a society in any world, digital or analogue.

However, the interpretation of the term Post-Pandemic Theatre, -either as “after” or “against”- can bring forth new myths in our community, and this, in my point of view, is the most needed.

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