Cinemas, theatres, concert halls: when computers are switched off and live streaming platforms are closed, you are back – with due care – to experience live.

But what does it mean to return to theatre after months of lockdown from a programming point of view? How do you build a season in Covid period?

Once the often very tangled knots of compliance, with the rules, have been untangled, the organizers are faced with the challenge of proposing an offer that, more than ever before this year, has to face the target audience: it is necessary to hypothesize scenarios and diversify the offer. For the audience to return to the theatre and reactivate a virtuous participation mechanism, it is therefore essential to know artistic expectations and needs.

For this reason (as part of the project on the promotion of the audience supported with the Mibact contribution for the three-year period 2018/2020) ZONA K and Stratagemmi have taken charge of directly questioning the audience: with the collaboration of Stefano Laffi (Codici), we have developed a questionnaire to investigate the needs, uncertainties, but also ideas and proposals for the future.

The result was a somewhat unexpected picture – useful to get to know the audience in depth, even beyond the emergency situation – which helped to shape the autumn season of ZONA K, not by chance named with the questioning title “Reality?

The sample who answered the questionnaire was for the most part (8 people out of 10) curious and enthusiastic about trying out alternative forms of entertainment to the traditional ones, based on new languages and a different way of experiencing the space. Interactive devices that can be used remotely, or itinerant walks around the city: the important thing – our spectators told us – is to feel safer. Those who want to return to the theatre, but also those who are still undecided, prefer in the vast majority (87% of cases) outdoor performances. The theatre, suggests the outcome of the questionnaire, can therefore move around, cross places, and the audience is ready to follow it.

This is when the season of ZONA K starts en plein air. The dances are opened by the most famous professionals of urban scenic devices, Rimini Protokoll: they are the curators of FASE NOVE // Assolo Urbano (14 October-14 November), a tour of nine important city places from the artistic point of view. The aim of the walk is to ask ourselves about some unresolved contemporary issues that exploded with great force during the pandemic: why does art exist? And how fundamental is it in our daily lives?

And for those who are not satisfied, a second chance for an itinerant performance is also ready: the Pleiadi collective has prepared R 500 – Safari in the urban labyrinth. #Studio II (23-25 October).

And the virtual? What do spectators think about it?

Saturated with screens and video calls that mark the working days, the respondents answered loud and clear: there is no interest in the telematic vision of a show, neither deferred (an option only for 3 people out of 10) nor live streaming (for 4 out of 10). Theatre, after all, is a relationship. This is well known to the European Lord of participatory theatre, Roger Bernat, who has thought up a new home theatre project in recent months (available between 18-28 November). The ENA device invites the audience to relate, through the use of an app, with an artificial intelligence. The spectators through questions, invitations and indications have the possibility to confront face to face with a “fake” human being in an encounter that is not an end in itself, as often happens when we are dealing with bots born for commercial purposes, but aimed at creating a real dramaturgical text that will take shape from the dialogues between the spectators and ENA.

The interactive multimedia relationship is also at the centre of Play me (Origins project) by Codicefionda and Agrupación Señor Serrano (5-15 November), which can be enjoyed by one viewer at a time. The subject of investigation is the relationship of adolescents and adults with the world of gaming and real identities.

There is, however, still someone who wants to come back and sit in the audience (about 44% of respondents). For them, Agrupación Señor Serrano presents The Mountain (2-3 December) a work that deals with a very hot topic, the relationship between true and false, between news and fake news, between robots and humans, starting from a statistical consideration that involves the public: on average each of us lies three times a day. So does the truth exist? And how can we find it?

The editorial staff of Stratagemmi Prospettive Teatrali