The audience is there, cheering for theatre.
AMID FEARS, GOOD NEWS FROM THE PUBLIC
The Theatre has been one of the main victims of the pandemic. Without belittling the very serious damage suffered by the artistic staff and the entire production chain of the performing arts, there is a positive note that, in the midst of so much discouragement, brings a certain relief: the public has felt the absence of the theatre, and is eager to return to it.
This is one of the data that emerges clearly from the questionnaire designed and disseminated by ZONA K and Stratagemmi, with the support of Codici Ricerche, between May and June 2020: a crucial period, immediately following the lockdown.
The questionnaire aimed to find out what people’s feelings and expectations were about the reopening of the theatres, which had to be imagined in a different way from the pre-Covid period; making a virtue of necessity, the creators of the survey used this opportunity for dialogue with the public to sound out questions that only partly have to do with the emergency situation of the last few months. For example: how much artistic proposals accessible via telematics are actually appreciated; what is the relationship of the public with experimental languages and forms; how much the spatial context in which the performance takes place influences the spectators’ appreciation.
The survey produced valuable and at times unpredictable results: just think of the widespread enthusiasm for open-air performances, which certainly does not find an adequate response in the seasonal programmes of our theatres. Or the evident disaffection towards remote, telematic artistic fruition: an experience that spectators are definitely satiated with.
There is also – and this bodes well – a certain confidence in theatres as regards their compliance with health and hygiene requirements in order to prevent the risk of an epidemic resurgence: the interviewees declare more impatience than fear, suggesting that for them the theatre is not only an essential meeting place, but also a safe, reliable place.
In short: the data that emerge are by no means obvious, and can help us to understand where to start again, and in what directions.
Certainly, as shown by the numerous encouragements that the interviewees attached to the questionnaire, the public is there, and is cheering for the theatre.
Foto by Cristina Lorenzi for ZONA K, BODIES IN URBAN SPACES 2017 di Cie. Willi Dorner