Meet Me Through the Webcam: An Ethics of Participatory Performance Practice in the Age of Zoom

Conference paper


Drayton, T. 2021. Meet Me Through the Webcam: An Ethics of Participatory Performance Practice in the Age of Zoom. CATR-SQET 2021: Crisis and Recovery: Theatre and Performance Before and After the Global Pandemic. University of Ottawa, Canada 10 Jun - 10 Jul 2021
AuthorsDrayton, T.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Project Phakama are an international arts organisation whose ethos of ‘non-hierarchical collaboration [in] dialogue with local performance traditions’ (McAvinchey et al, 2018, p.3) manifests, in part, through site-responsive participatory performances built on their ‘Give and Gain’ framework; promoting ‘community, cultural equity and shared responsibility’ (McAvinchey et al, 2018, p.54). In 2020, during a time of imposed seclusion in which the passive ‘pseudo-contact’ (Collard, 2020) offered by video conferencing software often increased isolated individual’s feelings of disconnect and loneliness, Phakama were quick to set up a Digital Artist Bursary that enabled artists to ‘move their practice to digital formats and to reach out to participants who are feeling isolated’ (Phakama, 2020).
Echoing an increasing contemporary concern with the ethics of participation (Lavender, 2016), this chapter will develop previous understandings (Breed, 2008; Beswick, 2016; McAvinchey et al, 2018) of Phakama’s methodology by focusing on how two of the projects supported by this fund were able to effectively translate such participation to online platforms; Jessica Starns’ ‘Virtual Walks’, in which participants took each other on virtual journeys around places of personal significance by using Zoom and Google Street View as a conjoined performance medium; and Django Pinter’s ‘Four More Walls’, which integrated live video manipulation to actively insert Zoom participants’ into a live, virtual, performative space.
By taking the word ‘hosting’ to mean both the act of holding a Zoom call and in reference to the ethics of ‘mutual, reciprocal […] protection, shelter or companionship’ (McAvinchey et al, 2018, p.41), this paper investigates how these artists pave the way for new forms of non-hierarchical, virtual participation in which ‘everyone has something to give and everyone has something to gain’ (Phakama, 2020).

KeywordsPhakama; Zoom Theatre; Post-Pandemic; Participatory Performance
Year2021
ConferenceCATR-SQET 2021: Crisis and Recovery: Theatre and Performance Before and After the Global Pandemic
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Registered users only
Publication process dates
Completed09 Jul 2021
Deposited20 Feb 2023
Copyright holder© 2021 The Author
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