Teresa’s Weekly Update: Hybrid Theatre

by Teresa Eyring

in Weekly Update

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Last week we launched Round 3 Cycle A of Global Connections (GC), and I encourage you to look over the guidelines and apply. Read about past recipients’ projects to learn the many different ways American theatre artists are collaborating with their international colleagues. Here on the Circle, Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s (CST) recent post about their GC collaboration with the Australian artist collective One Step at a Time Like This got me thinking about how theatres are increasingly crossing more than just national borders.

For example, take CST’s collaboration with One Step on Since I Suppose, their immersive, ambulatory, app-supported adaptation of Measure for Measure. While rooted in a classical text, the collaboration tells the story through film, mobile devices and the city of Chicago itself. Is this classical theatre or new work? Theatre or film? A play or an event? American or Australian? Online or in-person? The answer, of course, is the classic improv response of “yes, and.” It is all those things and more, and the old labels and categories may no longer fit.

I think of the inspiring example of California Shakespeare Theater and Intersection for the Arts’ collaborative program, The Triangle Lab, vividly described in Jonathan Moscone’s audience engagement address at the 2013 Conference in Dallas. I remember the many innovative models shared in the Conference session led by Rob Melrose of Cutting Ball Theater, “The Classics as New Plays.” I applaud Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ SHAKE38 festival for bringing Shakespeare’s entire canon to local bars, rooftops and street corners through community-driven partnerships.

Of course, collaborations between theatres of different sizes and aesthetics isn’t new; and theatres have been immersing their processes in communities and participatory practices for decades. However, the rising number of these collaborations across size, aesthetics, disciplines, sectors, cultures and more makes me wonder if we must adapt our definitions to be more flexible, remixed and hybridized; embracing our beautiful multiplicities of identity. I picture the theatre-goer of the (very-near) future choosing their play like a seasoned veteran of Starbucks: “Yes, may I have a site-specific, feminist adaptation of a classic with a participatory online component, please?”

What examples from your own work speak to this boundary-crossing spirit?