Beyond the Wound Is a Portal
By Haruna Lee, Alexa Luckey, Chloe Chow, Danny Ritz, Diana Khong, Emily Saletan, Julianna Yonis, Morgan Gwilym Tso, and Obed De la Cruz
Stanford University, Department of Theater and Performance Studies
November 12-14, 2020
One year ago, I did not know what Zoom was, and much less had contemplated the idea of digital theater. To me, any performance on a screen was the equivalent of watching a TV show or a movie. That was the kind of world I lived in. Everything had to be black and white with no concept of overlap or engaging innovation in between.
Suddenly, COVID-19 hit the world and performance artists were out of work. The idea of no in-person theater was unfathomable to me. I am a person who must know what I will be doing a day, a week, and a month from now – life is a checklist and that is how I accomplish things. If I did not know what the next year of theater was going materialize as, how could I plan?
It was only as we began this devising process that I realized how stubborn I am as an artist. Why am I trying to make digital theater a carbon copy of in-person theater when, at its foundational core, it is not? Why am I then trying to cornerstone it into being like a film? This process of digital theater was something we would have to reimagine from scratch. Semblance to another art form was not a pre-condition or priority. We were pushed to the frontier of exploring something that has not been wildly scrutinized before.
I will admit that the technological aspect of this production overwhelmed me so much. I do not consider myself technologically adept, and I do not imagine that I will ever meet the level of some of the amazing TAPS staff who conceived of the tech plan. However, as we played with OBS (and considered the possibility of Discord), I realized that art is as much creating as it is borrowing. The intersection with streaming platforms for gamers was astounding. It inspires me to continue exploring with digital theater so that it does not exist in temporality. This is a medium that must persist even after in-person performances resume.
Beyond the artistic collaborative process to devise an entire show, I learned to lean into the uncertainty of tomorrow. Just as we crafted this production from our imaginations, reality is what you make of it and how you choose to apply your thoughts and experiences. As you watch Beyond the Wound Is A Portal, I hope that you find the little quirks and pockets of joy within our dreams and that it helps you make sense of your own as we ascend from the Zoomscape. After all, it is only with the dreams of the audience that this show is made possible.