31 May 2020

Democracy Triangle Goes Digital

Post Written by: Erin Walcon

We’ve been working on the Protest & Rebellion project throughout April and May. This process was meant to be live in a room together, but of course, in these (brace for it) unprecedented times, we are finding new ways of working. The artistic process continues.

This is not a wholly comfortable thing to do, but probably healthy. I regularly remind my university Applied Theatre students that it’s important to keep your practice lively and growing – that we should always be on a continual journey of discovery as Teaching Artists and facilitators. That we have to keep learning or our artistic and pedagogic practice will stagnate. This is important to remind myself right now as I resent the hell out of having to do live sessions on Zoom. Personal growth, Erin, personal growth.

It is, of course, an absolute joy to see the 18 members of DYT every Monday evening on my Zoom screen. It lightens everything. They are just as incredible via digital pixels as they are in live breathing person. We all wish it was in person. We laugh on mute. We extra-animate. We text quietly off screen in the same way we would whisper during a session. The chat becomes riotous. I have to mute some of them. They unmute themselves.

We always check in. This is important. This is extra important right now. Asking each other ‘How are you? How was today?’ feels almost like a revolutionary act when I compare it against some of the other de-humanised meetings I’ve been attending over the last few months. How in the world can a basic human check in become a radical act? This baffles me.

And we work on the show.

We have now written three full length scripts and we’ve just picked one to focus on. The Democracy Triangle works digitally too. We researched the history of Paignton, going digging for the stories we felt were undertold – we’ve decided that the cabbage farmers of old Paignton in the mid 1850s deserve to be voiced. We drew and sketched and designed. We found a historical era and then intentionally broke it open. We became smitten with the idea of sea shanty bands and Facebook stalked them. We continue to play around with the ending. Fire? Flood? Both? Revolution? Despair?

Some of us can now begin to explore doing small group rehearsals outdoors, live. This is very exciting. Not all of us have this option – some are shielding at home, and this means we keep going digitally. Because we have discovered there is a lot of power in this new way of working. There is a Google Drive nearly full to bursting with creative content. We have already spent more hours working on this show than we ever would have done live.

The artistic process has looked almost nothing like how I thought it would. In many ways, it feels utterly the same – the same buzz of excitement, the same wonderful falling feeling of tumbling into a story that wants to be told. And the uncomfortable healthy stretch of finding new ways of working.