While rehearsing the play Austerlitz based on W. G. Sebald’s novel, director Krystian Lupa made a drawing for the production’s future poster. He sent the sketch in early March. It depicts a hand with arrows pointing in different directions emerging from it. The drawing conveys the story of Austerlitz, an account of the wanderings of a man in the wake of historical trauma in search of answers to questions about his identity through an effort to recreate the past entirely erased from his memory. But the drawing also prompts a different thought. Where to? What’s next?
This drawing could be a depiction of the situation of many people in today’s world overwhelmed by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Not only are all the world’s countries trying to do their best to fight the deadly invisible enemy, they are also looking for further ways of development, and ordinary people – for ways of survival for themselves and their loved ones as well as for future directions.
No one knows how the world will change after the pandemic. But authors of various predictions and speculations unanimously agree it will no longer be the same as before. What does this mean for contemporary art, especially, the performing arts? What particular content or artistic expression should creative ideas have in order to keep people coming to the theater? How will the entire performing arts sector, both state and non-state, be able to cooperate in search of a true professional solidarity, vital for the survival of the most vulnerable creative groups and artists? In a very near future these issues will become our biggest challenges.
The Youth Theater has concluded its 55th season. The eagerly awaited premiere of Austerlitz in May and the performances scheduled for June have been canceled. Even if the quarantine enforced in the country ended earlier, the theater would not be able to continue its planned activities without putting the health of its spectators and staff in danger. Sometimes it is better to stop nurturing illusions and take a break, regroup your energies and look for new ideas.
However, this does not mean the theater will stop working. In April, most employees of the theater will be on holiday or on partial downtime. During that time, the theater will prepare a project for its autumn repertoire, reschedule other creative projects it’s involved in, develop an activity plan (new productions) for 2021 and submit an application to the National Program for its implementation. Accordingly, recommendations and tasks will be prepared for various employees for working from home starting from May should the quarantine be extended.
I sincerely hope that in the early autumn the Youth Theater will be able to take its spectators on an intriguing and meaningful journey of the 56th season.
Let’s all stay healthy!