enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館

Online Exhibition

Lost in Pandemic―Theatre Adrift, Expression's New Horizons

Purpose of the Exhibition

In the theatrical world, an enormous number of performances had to be cancelled or postponed in 2020 due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Theatres began to reopen after the first state of emergency was lifted, but those in the industry continued to fight adversity with a sense they were skating on thin ice.
In 2021, a second state of emergency was declared. The world is still in the grip of the pandemic, and we are going through the same chaotic experience we went through a year ago.
This exhibition is intended to record the ‘here and how’ under the pandemic from the theatrical viewpoint and pass it on to future generations. When theatres were about to be put on hold because of the pandemic, many people in various positions wondered what they could do to help the industry. They asked what could be done to keep theatres alive amid an unknown epidemic. This exhibition displays a record of what these people attempted through trial and error in 2020, the initial stage of the coronavirus pandemic, as it were, when the situation was particularly confusing.
What has been lost and gained over the past year? The practice of a ‘new way of life’ that symbolises society amid the pandemic is not irrelevant to theatres. It highlighted the reality that the theatrical world is an extension of our daily lives. In fact, the potentiality of a new form of expression is now emerging to overcome various obstacles.
The exhibition will also uncover and display museum materials showing how the theatrical world in Japan confronted epidemics and infectious diseases that occurred in the past. What can we learn from the past? The flip side of this question is what we can leave for the future.
If theatre is a mirror that reflects the world, how is it connected to our lives and society that are affected by the pandemic? This exhibition marks a significant milestone as we drift in an extraordinary situation that has become a new normal and continue to wait for the industry’s rebirth.

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