An exploration on how Theatre can develop in a pandemic.
“Ensuring the people and organisations that make up our arts, museums and libraries are protected during the coronavirus crisis is our number one priority.” Statement from the Arts Council on COVID-19, date: 02/04/2020
An exploration on how theatre can develop in a pandemic, investigates the potential efficacy of theatrical performances online. It is about ways in which, a particular period in time can alter the future of theatre. Theatre practitioners have previously tried to change not just the future action of their audiences, but also the structure of the audience community and the nature of the audience’s culture. In a seemingly absurd way, the main force for such changes has been the instant and brief effect of a performance (laughter, tears, applause and other responses). This time has for the creative arts, been the outcome that has emerge from an alternative logic of practice which are not always easy to articulate and it can become difficult to discuss the work objectively given the intrinsically emotional and subjective dimensions of the artistic work in a pandemic.
My work explores the deeper meaning of the monster character in films and what they represent to our society. This comes from my background in film studies and classical civilisations. The role of the monster has changed over the years but what it represents is still the same. I did a foundation degree in Art, Design and Media followed by a BA Hons in Theatre, Performance and Events Design. Having just completed my MA Arts and Project Management, my aim is to work in the events sector. I am currently working to save Dudley Hippodrome and return it to its former glory as an entertainment hub for the community.
Arts and Project Management
I have created a blog with my thoughts of Monsters in different films and what they represent in the films and to us personally.
Not all Monsters do monstrous things
Lydia Martin – Teen Wolf Season 4 Episode 10
Introduction in Monsters
Monsters have been around for as long as people have lived on this Earth. This is because they are created from our fears of the unknown. A lot of these fears are based around the misunderstandings and over exaggerations of people of a more basic time. Humans have been creating monsters since prehistory around the fire. Monsters were a major threat to prehistoric humans. They were used to keep the tribe members from wondering off and getting killed. Their biggest fear was the Dark itself and what could be hiding out of the range of the fire. This fear of the Dark was so deeply ingrained into their minds that we are still wary of the Dark to this day, that fear of the unknown.
As a rite of passage into adulthood young men would be to go out into the unknown and kill these monsters and bring back a trophy to prove it. It was a test to defeat their fears and prove they could protect their tribe when under threat.
Dragons for instance have never existed but seem to be imbedded into a lot of different cultures from all over the world; everywhere from Wales to Romania to China. All these places have mountain ranges and wild places where people believed the dragons lived. Despite the fact that these places are a great distance from each other and wouldn’t have known each other’s folk tales, they are all very similar in nature. Researchers believe that Dragons came about from people discovering huge dinosaur fossils and not understanding what they were or how they got there, created stories to explain their existence. These stories would have been past down orally through the villages by bards. Each bard would add their own spin to make each telling more exciting than the last. They would create great heroes who had slain these Dragons and that is how their skeletons are here now.
The Sea is a terrifying, dangerous place, even for experienced sailors. A lot of people are fearful of the Sea for many reasons. Some people are unable to swim and fear falling in and drowning. Others are terrified of the vastness and not knowing what lies beneath the surface. I have a fear of the Sea even though I’m an extremely good swimmer. It’s more of a dread of getting dragged out to Sea and never being found again.Back when people first started exploring the Oceans their navigation techniques were primitive at best, using the stars to guide them. This would mean they had a high chance of getting lost and longer journeys would take place. This would lead to a very poor diet of preserved rations which lacked important nutrients such as vitamin c. This causes scurvy which is known to affect the mind and can lead to hallucinations, which could explain creatures like the Kraken. The Kraken began life as a Scandinavian monster that roamed the North Atlantic and preyed on sailors who got too close. Scientists believe that the sailors would have seen a giant squid, which can grow up to 15 feet. These sea creatures are rarely seen thus making the stories told about them even more wonderous. Sailors could have gotten a glimpse of one just before crashing into the treacherous rocks and the survivors would have been convinced that they were attacked by the Kraken.
Bodies were often found to have strange items buried with or on them. Some had iron stakes through their chests, others had large stones on their heads and chests whilst others had iron sickles across their throats or stomachs. This was intended to remove the head or open the gut should they attempt to rise from the grave. In 2014 researchers examined the skeletal remains of 17th Century graves in north-western Poland and speculated that the ones given a vampire burial may have actually been cholera victims. The villages took extra precautions with the burials to make sure the dead stayed dead and didn’t pass on the disease. A common thread seems to connect most of these burials together, in that they seem to have suffered through epidemics or illnesses.People didn’t understand what was causing these diseases, like cholera, so didn’t know how it was spread. To help prevent the disease spreading, they would bury the dead whilst they were still warm. This led to many people buried alive, consequently this developed into a fear of being buried alive. Though if a person were buried alive in Eastern Europe and managed to get themselves out of their grave, they might wish they hadn’t. If someone ‘came back from the dead’ the locals would panic and think that they were a vampire or revenant. Subsequently they would then be stoned to death, if the villagers were too afraid to get close, or held down and staked until they bled to death. They didn’t discriminate between men or women, adult or child, rich or poor. Anyone suspected of being a vampire was killed.
Monsters in Films
These monster films come out at a time when we needed them the most. Dracula and Frankenstein came out during the great depression; when wall street crashed and plunged the world into an economic depression. These films along with others created a golden age in cinema as the general public wanted escapism from their lives and problems. The monsters represented the horrors they were facing but would cheer when they met their demise. The monster never won. The Wolfman came out during world war 2 ironically as wolves have been associated with wars and battles for many hundreds of years. The werewolf is a metaphor for the horrors of war. The human side represents the media version of war with the photographs of comrades smiling together looking all wholesome. The beast represents the reality of war, the bloody violence and unnecessary death that inflicted so many soldiers. Very few came back whole, whether mentally or physically. Frankenstein, despite being a monster, helped to boost morale as he showed he could beat death.
The second surge of monster movies came just at the start of the Cold and Korean Wars, another distracting from reality. The eighties brought about the slasher genre and horror films became a lot gorier and violent. Audiences were used to war by now and needed a shock from reality. Most people watch scary films because it reduces their anxiety as they are in a safe environment and watching it on their terms. There’s also the adrenaline rush you get from the fight or flight response that’s triggered when watching horror. In the words of Wes Craven (horror director) “Horror doesn’t create fear; it releases it”.
After looking at these different monsters I have concluded that they are all a part of us. They reflect our fears and show our hidden desires. We all try to find our place in society like Frankenstein. We all have feelings of losing control of our minds and bodies, like werewolves. Dracula shows us what happens if we hold onto revenge. We will end up alone, having pushed everyone away, and desperate for company. We all fear the unknown whether it be the ocean, the dark or what happens after we die. The monsters have taught us to enjoy the little things in life like love and the company of others.
Theatre and the COVID-19 Pandemic: the implications of COVID-19 on Ghanaian Theatre Practice
Research paper 2020
For this paper, I used theatre practitioner-based interview questionnaires to research the impact of COVID-19 on theatre practice and the alternative presentational forms that can be used to ensure that this sector continues to adapt and grow despite world-wide ‘lock-downs’. Due to my experience and knowledge of Ghanaian theatre, the main case study focus was the Ghanaian theatre and arts sector.
As an international student who saw the worldwide impact of the pandemic whilst being aware of social and economic climate back home in Ghana, I wondered how my home country would brave the storm that is COVID-19. Watching in earnest as the British government took measures to curb the spread of the disease, I wondered how the Ghanaian government was going to handle the global implications of the pandemic and its effects on our economy, especially the arts sector. The Ghanaian art sector (especially the theatre space), an already struggling area is far behind things like STEM education which was seeinga rapid pace of growth and improvement. Hence, this pandemic left the theatre space in a very uncertain predicament. This realisation led me to ask myself a few questions: what would be the new way of theatre in this ‘new-norm’? This was the motivation that inspired me to research more into the subject area.
Keys areas looked at include:
Digital Inclusion Socio-economic impact Alternative forms of the practice
Through the 9 texts performed here, I navigate the misalignment between the needs from our Primary School system, and the structural devices that govern it. Each of the poetic narratives work to present my interpretation of that fragmented space inferring the need for reform.
I am a multi-disciplinary practitioner interested in a cross-fertilisation between my work as a primary school teacher and an engagement with educational theory and politics. I research the origins of practice in the state primary sector to articulate narratives of experience and alternatives.
Working predominantly with language, the interplay of the human and poetics with theory and praxes are pivotal components of my work. In the main, I draw or tell stories to share my understanding.
My aim is to increase the force of a much-needed push for change in our primary sector.