Festivals should keep it going and support artist who are up for the Covid-19 challenge
In a way there’s nothing new under the sun, for festivals like PASSAGE and SO, when dealing with the Covid-19 situation. Street theater has always been about unfolding art in a predefined reality. And these past months’ conversations with artists reveal, that many artists are exploring new ways and possibilities for art in the public space to unfold. This is what makes us capable to present the PASSAGE festival in a revised edition, even though the warning came in such infinitely short time.
Whereas the theaters through distress – and not artistic necessity – have thrown themselves into online content, digital media and filmed repertoires, the street theater festivals that are being held, are doing so with an ongoing genuine artistic dialogue. Street theater and artist working in the public space, can’t take their audience for granted and aren’t supported by a convention or an institution. Everything is up for discussion all the time, whereas the institutional theater is hung up on a certain perception and organizing of their audience, and furthermore it happens in a building designed for exactly that purpose.
Street theater and the institutional theater compliments each other. One can hardly exist without the other, although money and therefor also a lot of the attention first and foremost showers the institutional theater. The institutional theater is manageable, recognizable and predictable. It’s a question of politics. The well educated and bourgeois have always had an interest in the institutional theater (perhaps because it is so preoccupied with representation) while all others, in spite of audience development projects, in reality have been referred to festivals and street theater.
The interesting thing is that the artists don’t respect the separation between the institution and the public space. Think about great artists like Robert Wilson, Romeo Castellucci and in Denmark, Kirsten Delholm and Odin Teatret. They have all created some of their biggest work for a space, that wasn’t dedicated to theater. And you could say the same about the audience. They don’t care if art is happening in a theatre or outside in a festival, they just want to witness great art. The Situation is the Boss is right now the reality for both the institutionalized theater and for street theater. It means the institutional theater has closed completely or have gone online or digital and can’t complete its own practice while for street theatre festival there is still a chance. Its thought-provoking.