We love offline

This year the festival team has faced a challenging task. Should we produce the festival online or should we cancel it? Between the two alternatives—neither of them completely satisfying—we have decided to go with a third one!

“We Love Offline.” That is the theme of the 19th edition of Malá inventura Festival. A theatre presented live and in person. It may sound like a paradox but despite the required reduction in the number of allowed festival attendees, the 2021 festival celebrates theatre and theatre audiences. Theatre has survived numerous crisis throughout the history and undergone many changes in terms of its perception. The current crisis, however, seems to be different. It questions the very nature of what we have been intuitively considering a theatre for thousands of years.

“Screw Online.” Online mode as such does not directly endanger transmission of a message communicated through theatre. That is not the primarily concern. Yet, the year-long isolation has provided enough opportunities to observe the futile efforts theatre is forced to make to settle into virtual space. The challenge is not a different method of communication or lack of theatre productions but a completely new, unusual way of how theatre is being received. It is the spectator who faces a problem!

“Theatre in a Living Room? WTF!” A theatre relocated into a private space without an opportunity for spectators to share experiences directly with others is an oxymoron. Because a theatre stripped of the capacity to initiate a creation of some common experience is a theatre without theatre. 

“Why Theatre?“ The current crisis reaches beyond the questions of “what to perform” and “what means should be used.” The seemingly instrumental problem—the matter of an offline v. online theatre transmission—leads to more substantial questions, particularly to the issue of a relationship between the private and the public. It challenges the perception of what has been so far perhaps a rather self-evident dimension of theatre—theatre as a temporary community formed anew with every performance. The current crisis has exposed the conditions under which theatre occurs. From this point of view it almost does not matter whether stakeholders are living human beings, programmed artificial intelligence, or a mass brought to life by a higher power. Because a theatre event can occur only when spectators are present in one place experiencing physical sensation of co-presence of others. 

“Crisis Is an Opportunity?” The theatre that our festival has been presenting for 19 years has always been “off.” It is original and independent, daring and experimental, a theatre that challenges its audiences to be open to new sensitivity, perception, and perhaps also thinking. The current crisis unexpectedly unlocks another dimension of this “off.” A theatre has been and still is a place for viewing. The opportunity talked about over and over again in connection with this crisis is exactly about that. But where from is the present-day spectator viewing the theatre now? What is that space into which we have been forced to relocate due to this situation? These are exactly the questions that the 2021 Malá inventura Festival asks its audiences.

“We Love offline!“ Not only this year.


Petr Pola
Artistic Director of Malá inventura festival


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