enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館

Online Exhibition

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

Experiments in New Normal

As the extraordinariness of a new way of life becomes ordinary, the age-old fundamental question as to what theatre is all about has once again thrust upon those involved in theatre.
In addition to plays delivered online, works were also created using artificial reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), as well as works that call the relationship between the human body and the media into question. Many attempts were made to present a dramatic experience to the audience in such a way that the generally accepted image and concept of theatre, that is, a theatre, a stage, and audience seats, as well as performers who play in front of live audience, could be overturned.
Geckoparade, a theatre company, created a play without a title. This analogue performance, which features the sending of a ‘coronavirus best-wishes greeting card’, is reminiscent of Terayama Shuji’s Shokan Engeki (letter play) (書簡演劇). Another theatre company, Kamome Machine, performed Moshi Moshi Not I (『もしもし、わたしじゃないし』). The play, based on Not I, a drama written by Samuel Beckett, features a telephone conversation emphasising voice and auditory sensations. Meanwhile, theatre company Emban ni Noruha played Uotahoru wo Oikakete (chasing waterfalls) (『ウォーターフォールを追いかけて』), an audience participation play performed online.
The Paper Company Project theatre company presented an exhibition that appeared to be the flip side of this museum’s online exhibition, ‘Ushinawareta Koen’ (lost performances) (「失われた公演」). They aim to ‘fabricate theatrical performances’ by carefully constructing the surrounding information of theatrical culture, such as posters and pamphlets, other than actual performances. The exhibition took a metafictional approach to a ‘play that does not exist but may have existed’ and a parodic approach to the reality that plays are disappearing amid the pandemic.
Many of the attempts that have been made are experimental in nature. It may not be the case that all of them were created because of the pandemic. It may be that the expression and ideas of forerunners who were called avant-garde were rediscovered under the world in the pandemic and remade for today.
Our senses are greatly shaken when we come into contact with such a strange and peculiar form of expression.

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