To Be Witnessed

November 10, 2020

Thalia Gonzalez Kane bearing witness to Toronto at Polson Pier.

Written by Guest Blogger Thalia Gonzalez Kane.

My calendar has been a consistent reminder of that which won’t exist.

Prior to the pandemic, the majority of my work for the near future would take me abroad; an Australian tour, a production in Ireland, workshops in the States. All has been postponed indefinitely.

In Summer 2019 I wrote my first contribution to the Canadian Theatre Review, “From Somewhere in the World, With Love” for Vol. 179: Home and Away: Canadians Abroad. In it, I consider the many spaces that have helped to shape both myself and my work. What it is to be an “artist abroad.” At the time, it never occurred to me how much growth would happen a year later in a one-bedroom condo in Corktown. How it would become home in a way I never anticipated. However, with the mediums and technologies available to us, I find my many homes coming a bit closer together as they find themselves in small squares on a laptop screen.

In the duration of the pandemic, I’ve been fortunate to continue working with creatives around the world. The show that was meant to tour Australia, A Drunk Lesbian Love Affair, was featured in Pride Pieces as part of the virtual Pride Plays Festival, based in New York. Myself and a cast mate acted together, across the Atlantic Ocean, in The Sale for Little Shadow Theatre Company in Ireland. I did a reading with a theatre company based in Georgia, the cast scattered throughout the USA. Creatives are being forced to rethink how we approach theatre and in many ways, it has opened up the possibility for international collaboration even more. For example, a colleague of mine in Ireland and I are currently working to produce a short film. The film will be shot in both Ireland and Toronto, with the actors never physically meeting. Any scenes in which they interact together will take place over Skype. We’re unsure of how it will all work, but we will try. We will learn. We will create.

I find myself in a state of constant questioning. How are we using technology in theatre? How are we using theatre through technology? How are our perceptions changing and as a result, evolving? What is it to be a witness to a virtual performance? How are performers witnessed by audiences they may never see, never feel? How can technologies bring us together so we can be witnessed once more? What does it mean now, to be witnessed?

To be witnessed.

Writing for CTR has allowed me to connect with and learn about the work of a plethora of artists and academics. Coming soon is an interview regarding the Performance and XR Virtual Reality Symposium, which was held virtually in October. This will be shared on the CTR blog. It is a privilege to aid in creating a record of our history and growth as the landscape shifts. It is a privilege to be a witness once more.

Photo Credit: Charlotte Cattell

Thalia is an Ecuadorian-Canadian multidisciplinary artist. She has worked as a performer, playwright, director, designer, choreographer, and producer in Canada, New York, the UK, Ireland and Sweden. She is a co-founder of Got Your Back (GYB) Canada, a national advocacy and support network connecting artists, an adviser to [de]centre—the queer creative network for Atlantic Canadians, and the Artistic Director of Crave Productions. In June 2020, Thalia was named an artist to watch by for her solo show, A Drunk Lesbian Love Affair. She is currently the Online Features Editor for CTR.

The UTP Journals blog features guest posts from our authors. The opinions expressed in these posts may not necessarily represent those of UTP Journals and their clients.

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