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Theaterarbeit unter den Bedingungen von Corona

3 FRAGEN AN ... #4
Darren O' Donnell

Die Coronakrise verändert unseren Alltag in einem ungekannten Ausmaß. Auch wenn wir alle von den Auswirkungen des Virus betroffen sind, sehen die Herausforderungen, die sie mit sich bringen, für jede*n anders aus. Das Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin führt aktuell eine Studie zu den Auswirkungen des Corona-Virus auf den Alltag durch, um diese Veränderungen in der Erwerbsarbeit, im Privatleben und beim subjektiven Wohlbefinden zu beschreiben.

Wir fragen uns: wie aussagekräftig sind die Ergebnisse für die Kulturbranche und insbesondere für die Theaterarbeit? Freischaffende Künstler*innen, die oft projektbasiert, mobil und nicht selten prekär arbeiten, sitzen nun zum Teil unerwartet an einem Ort fest, Gruppen müssen teilweise über große Distanz versuchen, gemeinsame Projekte weiter zu verfolgen.
Für Künstler*innen mit Kindern findet mitten im Ausnahmezustand plötzlich so etwas wie eine familiäre Normalität statt: Man ist ständig beisammen, was zwar nicht weniger, aber eine andere Art der Koordination erfordert. Für alle ist gravierend, dass noch niemand weiß, wann überhaupt wieder ein regulärer Spielbetrieb in den Theatern stattfinden wird. Neben dem verworfenen Plan A muss nun ein Plan B, C und D geschmiedet werden.

Wir wollten wissen, wie die Situation der Künstler*innen und Gruppen aussieht, die seit Mitte April bei uns hätten spielen sollen, es aber wegen der geltenden Ausgangsbeschränkungen nicht können. In Anlehnung an unser Interview-Format „3 Fragen an…“ haben wir sie gefragt:

Wo bist Du gerade und wie geht’s?
Was hat sich für Dich durch Corona zum Schlechten, eventuell aber auch zum Guten verändert?
Was beschäftigt Dich gerade am meisten? Und womit beschäftigst Du Dich?

Die Antworten sind so unterschiedlich wie die Menschen, die sie geben. Sie zeugen von realen Sorgen, eröffnen aber vor allem hoffnungsvolle Perspektiven für die Theaterarbeit in der Zeit nach der Krise. Und nicht wenige der Befragten sehen in ihr ganz konkrete Chancen für die soziale und ökologische Nachhaltigkeit der eigenen Branche. Wenn wir Glück haben, werden wir uns daran erinnern!

#4 Darren O'Donnell

(Autor/ freier Künstler, Kanada)

Entfallene Veranstaltung:
1.- 3.5.
Britt Hatzius & Darren O’Donnell
›The Users‹
(Adaption als Livestream ›The Users, in Lockdown‹)


Where are you and how are you doing?
I’m currently in Melbourne. I was in Japan as it all started to happen, my next work was in Ireland, followed by a string of engagements in Europe that took me through into 2021. Most have been postponed, some have gone online, some are trying to go online, some are trying to happen, and there’s a whole lot of who the fuck knows. I'm developing a project with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria in Melbourne so decided I might as well come here and maybe get some work done on it.


What has changed due to corona, in a negative and perhaps also positive sense?
I’m doing fine. The pace I was working before all of this was only supposed to be for a short term, and I was nearing the end of it. Now I’ve been forced to sit still  - stepping away from incessant production - and focus on taking time to tinker with new concepts, adapt old concepts, etc. I feel more or less optimistic that we’re all learning so much about our world through this and that these lessons will stick around. But sometimes these lessons are so massive that it becomes even difficult to parse the implications of the learning.


What are you busy with at the moment or how do keep yourself busy? Practically but also mentally?
To keep busy at my company Mammalian Diving Reflex we immediately focused on grant writing, with most of the deadlines postponing even as we were almost done writing the grants. But I trust it wasn’t a waste of time, as we pushed important conversations forward. Now we are basically figuring out how to break down the creative projects we have on the go, and continue to work on aspects in whatever way we can, adapting whatever we need to adapt to make the work, with a whole lot of experimentation happening. We have a project, ›The Last Minutes Before Mars‹ with the FOG Triennale  Milano Performing Arts Festival and Zona K in Milan that mixes 360° video and live performance and was supposed to happen in May 2020. Currently we are editing the video and working with the collaborators to devise aspects of the performance on WhatsApp, with the hope that sometime in the future we can present it. We are also beginning to devise a social-distancing version of the performance, which is pretty easy since VR goggles are too expensive to allow us to perform for more than 30 people, we just have to make sure they don’t get close to each other, which we can easily work into the concept. We also have another project called ›Everything Has Disappeared‹ about Filipino migrant labour and the role of Filipino people in the world economy. That project imagines a sci-fi scenario in which every single Filipino person in the world disappears and we look carefully at what the actual effects would be if such a thing happened. The pandemic is actually providing us with some very useful data on all of that. With that we are slowly assembling the team, working on various aspects remotely as best we can. We will need to be in the same room eventually, but there’s a bunch to do before that.
Personally, I’m using this time to work on the project in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, in Melbourne. It was originally intended to be an audio performance for an audience in a glasshouse. Now, as a phase in the development, and as a sort of spin-off side project, I’m designing a 10 part podcast series with the fictional conceit that it’s a mediation app. I want to use the form of the meditation app as a platform for an artistic work that looks at things like plant intelligence and signalling; the question of plant consciousness, the question of human consciousness; panpsychism, and where all of this converges with the insanity that is actual physics.  As part of the research for the project, I’ve been meditating at least an hour every day, sticking as strictly as I can to the process outlined in the book ›The Mind Illuminated‹. I’ve never read a meditation book like it; it’s really breaks the process toward enlightenment (whatever that is) down to very technical and clear steps, with well defined milestones so you can tell if you’re on the right track. The final goal: perceiving the true nature of reality. If I get there, I’ll be sure to let you know what it looks like!!
The project with Britt has been great, to be honest. Forcing us to work online with the kids, just made the themes of the project so immediate and rich. Watching Britt adapt so quickly and nimbly to the situation has been a great lesson for me in how creative obstructions or problems can lead to completely beautiful solutions that, otherwise, would probably never have been considered.



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