While apprenticing to become a director at Bertolt Brecht’s theatre, The Berliner Ensemble in the late 1980s prior to the Berlin wall coming down, Nadia was taught the following:
“the practices of theatre are like a thread that gets handed down, generation to generation. Sometimes the thread is strong and healthy, like it was during Shakespeare’s time. At other times, it is weak and thin, like it is now. That is why is it very important that you take the thread and hand it down so that it doesn’t break.”
At that time, the theatre was considered to be in the midst of a prolonged state of decline since the advent of photography, film and television had challenged its relevance in society. The personal desktop computer had barely arrived in our living rooms and little did we know that a whole other reality was now coming to bear an incredible weight on this already thin thread.
The internet would put fuel to the questions people had about this thread and its tradition. This tradition of theatre had a canon that was primarily populated by white European males and the stories on offer in these texts focussed primarily on the white male hero, with anything ‘other’ (female, not white), playing a secondary role (villain or victim) for the hero to use to prove his heroism with. There is nothing wrong with heroes or males or being white. The problems lie in the relationship to the ‘other’ and, of course, the secondary problem of the hero role being assigned to such a limited group of people. Even though that relationship birthed some stunning dramas over thousands of years, it also maintained a way of seeing the world that was now being fully challenged.
As daunting as these questions are, we know this: the digital realm offers us new tools to support sharing our knowledge, and the questions we have been grappling with, with others and with the next generation so that they can continue to grapple with these questions, if they so choose. We hope you will take up the challenge that this amazing art form offers.
Over the next three years we will be looking at ways of sharing knowledge and opening dialogues through our ongoing projects Everything I have learned, I will share here (working title), V/Blog and SHOW.