The Hybrid Future of Theater

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Exhibition: "Viral Theaters: Pandemic Past / Hybrid Futures" at the Tieranatomisches Theater on Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s North Campus

How hybrid is the future of theater? In what ways has the pandemic changed how people work in theater and gather in it as a public space? The exhibition "Viral Theaters: Pandemic Past / Hybrid Futures" seeks to address these questions and is on display from now until June 3, 2022, at the Tieranatomisches Theater on Humboldt-Universität’s North Campus.

The multimedia exhibtition takes stock of how pandemic time has moved from state of exception to new normality between viral outbreak and containment and what that means for theatrical production. The works grew out of the "Viral Theaters" research project, a cooperative effort between Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and Bard College Berlin. It was financed by the Volkswagen Foundation. For the three-day symposium that kicked off the exhibition (April 28-30, 2022), "Viral Theaters" worked in cooperation with the "Temporal Communities" Cluster of Excellence, the "Matters of Activity" Cluster of Excellence, "metalab@Harvard," Harvard University’s Mahindra Humanities Center, and the Open Society University Network.

A Living Archive of Pandemic Theater

The exhibition "Viral Theaters: Pandemic Past / Hybrid Futures" offers a look into the Living Archive with video and audio material that document pandemic theater making and audience experiences with interviews, rehearsal shadowing, video documentation, and digital interactions. For example, a series of videos shows how several theater projects have responded to the pandemic from "Junges DT" at the Deutsches Theater, to the Berliner Ensemble, to the Komische Oper, to HAU Hebbel-am-Ufer. A sound installation also transmits the voices of theater performers, critics, and researchers, who comment on the recent changes in the world of artistic production.

In addition, students from Bard College Berlin, who participated in the seminar "Post/Pandemic Performance in Berlin and New York," are presenting their work on participatory documentation. The "Viral Theaters" team is also pleased to exhibit projects from other initiatives and institutions, such as a manifesto from the "futureStage" initiative at metalab@Harvard and a collection of pandemic theater letters from around the world, organized by the online portal "nachtkritik.de" and the International Research Center for Interweaving Performance Cultures at Freie Universität Berlin.


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