Theatre after Covid: innovation or path dependence?

Rowson, James, Balme, Christopher and Eder, Thomas Fabian (2023) Theatre after Covid: innovation or path dependence? Urania Interdisciplinary Academic Journal. ISSN 2786-3263 (In Press)


In early March 2020 the most severe crisis to affect the performing arts since the Second World War took hold. By the middle of March the world was in the grip of unprecedented lockdowns to prevent the spread of the Corona virus Sars-Cov-2 and its associated illness Covid-19. Most theatres and indeed cultural venues of any kind were closed throughout 2020 and were subjected to intermittent closure and restrictions well into autumn 2021. How can we as theatre scholars approach this once-in-a-century event? Crises of this magnitude could be expected to cause both institutional and aesthetic transformations on a significant scale. In the depths of lockdown this seemed to be true as theatre artists, administrators and scholars embarked on a process of introspection regarding the future of their medium.
To address these questions the authors present results from a research project that has been conducted in the UK at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in collaboration with a project in Germany. The project investigated, among other questions, whether the pandemic produced artistic and institutional innovation on a scale that was to be expected. And secondly, did the effects of the pandemic play out differently in the heterogeneous institutional frameworks of German-speaking and UK theatre? The former with its high level of public funding, the latter with a theatre system that is much more ‘sensitive’ to market forces?


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