About the meanings and dimensions of the “political” in theatre today
The debate about the social and political nature of theater has intensified again in the 21st century. Theater is framed as socially engaged or political act not only from the point of view of its themes, contents and forms, but also considering the interaction between the play/performance and the spectator and the resulting relationships, as well as the work group processes and related power relations. My presentation concentrates, through case examples, on the processes of creating relational moments and spaces that aim at promoting different types of encounters and dialogue – shared time –, and discusses them as political acts. The possibility of shared time and space during the pandemic is addressed by using a Brazilian theatre group Os Satyros and their experiments with digital theatre as an example. Theoretically, the presentation draws from the notion of relational aesthetic of Nicholas Bourriaud, and discusses Hans-Thies Lehmann’s claim that the central political dimension of theatre is in situations, relationships and communal moments that theatre and the performing arts are able to construct.
Dr. Sanna Ryynänen is social scientist and researcher based in Helsinki, Finland. She works as a senior lecturer of social pedagogy at the University of Eastern Finland and teaches occasionally at the Theatre Academy of the University of the Arts Helsinki. One of her main research fields is theatre and performative arts as social and political acts. She is especially interested in the questions of spectatorship, encounters, and relational practices in theatre and performative arts, as well as in the political in theatre. She is a researcher member of a Finnish independent theatre group Saimaan Teatteri (Saimaa Theatre), and a member of researcher-artist collective Puhekupla (Speech Bubble). She specialises in creative, action-oriented and participatory research methods, and has co-authored textbooks on activist research, creative, participatory and action oriented research methods in social sciences, as well as on social pedagogy.