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Covid-19 Lockdown Week 3, Day 2

Part of the Invisible Diaries series

Duška Radosavljević

​​Week 1 / Day 2

Woke up today to packed bags laid out on the living room carpet. My four-year-old is going on holiday. To her grandparents in Germany. ‘The doctors will fight the Coronavirus,’ she says optimistically. ‘They don’t need our help anymore.’

I get her. I’m starting to feel the same... It’s that moment in the plot when we need a change of routine.

My strategy is trying to get deeper into work. I watched three online shows today and had a zoom meeting about digital ways of working. I think I’m starting to understand what my difficulty of watching theatre on screen is about. All the theatre work I’m interested in is about the here and now, breaking down the fourth wall, relating to the audience. Trying to experience /appreciate this via a screen is a paradox, to say the least.

I watched another Croatian show this morning: Mauzer, inspired by Heiner Müller but created by Borut Šeparović for ZKM (Zagreb Youth Theatre). It is a complex, 2-hour long examination of how biographies of revolutionaries are written – to what extent they are fact or fiction/myth, and, prompted by Müller, at what point it is ok to kill for the revolution.

It is a participatory piece of theatre and, half-way through, there is a moment in which the makers/performers deliberately disrupt the fictional frame to reflect on the fact/fiction distinction in theatre itself. ‘Imagine all theatres in the world had to close for a year!’, they say to the startled audience. ‘Well, okay, maybe not all of them, maybe all theatres in this city –- maybe just this theatre, for a year, ok. What would you do?’ A moment in which the there and then of the recorded performance (some eight years ago) collapses in on the here and now of the world in which all theatres are closed in a really unforeseen way.

Maybe this is the sort of list of recordings we should be compiling at the moment to share on social media to narrow down the enormously eclectic repertoire - recorded theatre that connects with our shared here and now. Could someone do this list, please?

Maybe, rather than trying to escape on holiday, we should all just go deeper in...

I am repeatedly coming across articles that claim that crisis situations like this breed revolutions. It’s a strangely comforting thought for the world in lockdown. But, prompted by the questions with which the show I saw this morning tried to grapple, I’m trying to imagine what sort of a revolution would be ok with me at this point in life. Hopefully a bloodless one, if possible? Maybe a slow one - the type the Earth does, rotating around the sun, barely perceptible but endlessly refreshing, renewing, re-energising and reassuring. And one in which we unanimously, unwaveringly and urgently resolve to save the planet.

What else? In the d'n zoom meeting about making theatre virtually, fellow dramaturg Miranda Laurence encapsulated a group conversation we were having with the following question: ‘What is a rehearsal room in the digital realm?’ I.e. ‘What is it that we value about getting into a room together with others to create work?’. The current technology we are working with, as powerful and versatile and amazing as it is, still presents us with the problem of walls. We can see each other through this tiny ‘fourth wall’ built into our immediate surroundings, but we cannot easily inhabit a shared three-dimensional virtual space together just yet. (Or can we?) I’m not even sure I would want this as a replacement for the real experience of sharing space with each other, but it makes it abundantly clear that what we are actually missing at the moment is the spatiality of theatre and performance.

It’s not really the holiday that my four year wants, more the sense of travel, of movement through space, I think. A change of scenery perhaps. Totally understandable given she has not left the house for 15 days.

‘We can’t go yet, lovely, we have to wait a bit more!’

‘Oh, not today - in ten months’ time, in July.’

Good job her sense of time is pretty stretchy, at least for now.

Images courtesy of Duška Radosavljević.


Duška Radosavljević is a writer, dramaturg and academic appointed as Reader at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She has worked as a dramaturg in the UK for twenty years and has been a member of the Dramaturgs’ Network from its beginning, joining the Executive Committee in 2009. Duška writes regularly for the Stage Newspaper, Exeunt and the Theatre Times and is the author of the award-winning book Theatre-Making: Interplay Between Text and Performance in the Twenty-First Century (2013). She currently holds a Leadership Fellowship funded by the AHRC investigating dramaturgies of speech and sound in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, Digital Theatre Plus and Victoria and Albert Museum, leading to a new book, a conference and a podcast.

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