THEATRUM Re-Formation was conceived as a utopian longing; longing for the utopia of having an actual performance (or theatre in general, as is more commonplace within the Russian context) in the environment where venues and auditoriums are closed; where it isn’t possible to rehearse, to touch, even to breath; where bodies, minds, and fears, and desires are locked away inside their homes.
We’ve been observing our colleagues and friends handling their desire to perform. In awe, we’ve been following the online “quarantine” endeavors of various theatre and museum teams. We’ve been investigating, how one could stand up to challenge this new professional and emotional reality; and we’ve tried to sort out all the concepts, and problems, and in the meantime we were getting used to the idea that the cultural process is indeed global, and not just on paper now. So we’ve collected a digest of the most important, and the most interesting: this digest, and the underlying research, laid the foundation for the Re-Formation online program, which is in fact our take on what we’d be happy to keep for the post-covid world order. We called for the best people to review the quarantine art and its plotlines, and now we are presenting our research on the Re-Formation online platform.
However, in the meantime we’ve been increasingly worried to see theatres and museums losing their momentum, abandoning their streaming and their online presence, and considering lay-offs. We’ve been following the awkward kitchen exercises and zoom-based gatherings; and we’ve been reading gloomy social media posts, and depressions statistics; and we’ve been talking to our colleagues who got more and more outspoken about the cultural institutions on the verge of total collapse and extinction, and about teams losing their shape, which would require as immense an effort to recover from the quarantine standstill, as it would take to weather it through. And that’s not even mentioning that nobody knows when the quarantine is going to end.
We’ve been thinking of the ways to help – to overcome the unavoidable stress, and get back to action, return to the audience, and adapt to the new conditions, restrictions, and norms. The ways to get back to the previous artistic and working shape. Therefore, we’ve decided to try and hold a series of performances using capabilities of the museums and theatres. This program will be presented in the museums of Moscow.
This utopian endeavor has on multiple occasions been put to a test: it took an extraordinary flexibility and level of compromise to execute artistic and organizational vision, that would’ve been utterly impossible under the “normal” conditions. Indeed, it took an enormous amount of ingenuity and professionalism to setup the communication and technological process required to make Re-Formation happen. We are immensely proud and thankful to our colleagues and friends who took part in it. As for the result – it remains to be seen.
Anton Flerov & Maria Beylina