As a response to the damage the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the performing arts, on 6 April 2020 the Dramaturgs’ Network (a volunteer arts organisation) launched a new project: the Invisible Diaries series, an online journal written by dramaturgs.
When the UK (following other countries) went into lockdown and our normal life came to a halt, we felt it would be important to document these times. So, the project was born: let’s give a platform to the ‘invisible person’ of the theatre-making process, let’s hear the voice of the silent witness in the rehearsal room, and ask dramaturgs to journal their experiences, thoughts and feelings to be shared on the Dramaturgs’ Network’s Blog.
Every week, for twelve weeks, a different dramaturg wrote a seven-day journal, with each daily post uploaded on the Blog within twenty-four hours. The continuity and swift turnaround gave the project a raw and honest immediacy.
As the weeks went by, the conversation grew, and the virtual space of the Invisible Diaries expanded. With authors based in Austin, Brisbane, Chicago, Leeds, London, Melbourne, New York, Reading, Seoul, Vienna, and Vancouver, this series has brought together dramaturgs across different time zones, geopolitical locations, cultures, ages, and experiences.
Reminiscing about practices past and present, sharing the thoughts of inspirational thinkers and practitioners, the entries began to engage with each other, weaving an intricate web of ideas about dramaturgy. Reflecting upon their immediate experience, themes of grief and trauma, adapting and adaptation, home and displacement, memories and belonging surfaced and resurfaced; notions of time, space, and proximity of bodies in our new reality were questioned and re-examined.
Prompted by the virus (another ‘invisible’ entity!), we gained through these conversations an insight into a diversity of ideas and practices when rethinking the role of community, society, politics, and above all the role of theatre and dramaturgy in this shifting world. What started as a playful gesture and activity of solidarity to document and reflect on our present experience during the pandemic, grew to become an important, interconnected discourse between theatre professionals across the world about how to dramaturg a better, fairer, more inclusive future.
Closing a project of this scale and complexity, I believe that this is only the beginning, that these essays will remain a rich and inspirational resource for the profession when continuing the dialogue about the future of theatre and dramaturgy for the 21st century.
As curator of the series, I am immensely grateful to the authors. Whilst coping with an unprecedented traumatic situation, when projects, rehearsals and performances were suspended, and opportunities for work disappeared overnight, these dramaturgs managed to find the time and energy to record their thoughts and feelings day after day, offering their labour free of charge, driven by their conviction of the importance of this project. I am also indebted to the dedicated team of editors, whose professionalism made it possible to publish 84 essays in as many days.
This extraordinary international collaboration could not have been realised without all of your work and generosity. Thank you for being part of the Invisible Diaries.
Invisible Diaries - Table of Contents:
Introduction by Katalin Trencsényi (6 April)
Week 1: Duška Radosavljević
Covid-19 Lockdown Week 3, Day 3 (9 April)
Covid-19 Lockdown Week 3, Day 4 (10 April)
Covid-19 Lockdown Week 3, Day 6 (12 April)
Covid-19 Lockdown Week 3, Day 7 (13 April)
Week 2: Katalin Trencsényi
‘Doing Time’ (14 April)
‘The Need to Keep Moving’ (15 April)
‘A mis-guide to ANYWHERE’ 9 (17 April)
‘EF’s visit to a small planet’ (18 April)
‘Mimesis’ (19 April)
‘Possession’ (20 April)
Week 3: Kara McKechnie
Being in-between, holding the space (21 April)
Holbeck Dramoletts (22 April)
Square People (24 April)
The Past is a Different Country (25 April)
Pandemic Dramaturgies (26 April)
Week 4: David Geary
Fried Brains (28 April)
Sympathetic Magic (29 April)
Staring into the mouth of a lamprey (30 April)
Creative Accounting (1 May)
It’s All in the Game (2 May)
Who is that masked man? (3 May)
Lay Your Burdens Down Day (4 May)
Week 5: Miranda Laurence
Body and Space (5 May)
Dining Room (6 May)
Supermarket (7 May)
Bathroom (8 May)
Garden (9 May)
Staircase (10 May)
Week 6: Martine Kei Green-Rogers
One Day At a Time (12 May)
The Secrets Are Yours (13 May)
Death by Email and Web Conference (14 May)
It’s So Quiet: An Ode to Timestamps (15 May)
Guiding Principles (16 May)
Not Working 9 to 5 (17 May)
The Facts of Life (18 May)
Week 7: Bernadette Cochrane
Liminality: finding the edges (19 May)
Liminality exacerbated (20 May)
Liminality redux (21 May)
Liminality and screening kimchi (24 May)
Week 8: M.J. Chung
Only the End of the World?! (26 May)
The Future of the Arts (27 May)
New Drama for Astronauts? (28 May)
At War with the Virus (29 May)
How to Keep the Theatre Ecosystem? (30 May)
Theatre for Phono-Sapiens (31 May)
Immunization Rehearsals (1 June)
Week 9: LIM How Ngean
Upon Reflection (2 June)
Continuities and Connections (3 June)
What the Dramaturg Is, and Is Not (4 June)
The Socio-Cultural Mediator (6 June)