The Ship of Fools: Scholars in Residence
Il futuro è quello che si costruisce adesso (The future is what we build now)
Interview with Marco Zavarise,
“A cup of theatre”, 23 April 2020
At the 2020 NTL, a group of researchers worked alongside younger participants from the Third Theatre sector. The scholars comprised Patrick Campbell, Tatiana Chemi, Erik Exe Christoffersen, Annelis Kuhlmann, Adam Ledger and Jane Turner. This was a moment when specific characteristics of the researchers’ group clearly emerged: three pairs of scholars collaborating in couples; 3 women and 3 men; from 4 different institutions; and from 2 countries. At the event, Exe held a provoking talk, using Hieronymus Bosch’s depiction of the “Ship of Fools” to envision the future of Odin Teatret, and theatre in general. The image struck the participants and inspired focused conversations amongst the researchers. Are we the fools? Is theatre a ship of fools? In what ways can we shape community around this healthy foolishness?
 The ship of fools is an allegory, originating from Book VI of Plato‘s Republic, about a ship with a dysfunctional crew. The allegory is intended to represent the problems of governance prevailing in a political system not based on expert knowledge, such as democracies. Wikipedia, retrieved 30 April 2020 at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_fools
In these last few years, a broad cultural community is experiencing historical changes. Odin Teatret, an ensemble that has been active without interruption since 1964, will experience a shift in leadership in 2021. Its founder and leader, Eugenio Barba, will leave as director of the theatre institution to give place to the new director, Per Kap Bech Jensen. What will this bring? What will the artistic, organisational and scientific consequences? Clear needs emerge from this process:
- To document the process of this unique time and place of change
- To envision the future of NTL/OT together with the new generations of artists, of researchers and joint artist/researcher communities, in order that the future of NTL/OT unfolds with research in mind and with the active presence of researchers
- To secure a new generation of young scholars devoted to the themes and topics linked to NTL/OT, in order to facilitate their appreciation and scholarship of:
- OT work (productions, directing, Barba’s scholarship, creativity, “the collective mind”, theatre anthropology)
- The NTL (the Third theatre, the theatre laboratory, pedagogy, The Magdalena Project, barter, ISTA, Festuge, Odin Week, training)
- To provide a basis or network that can harness funding and that allows for ambitious vision
- To enable researchers to find ways to talk to their audience (especially young actors) through access to
- a research language (that is passionate, resonant, activist)
- publications that are economically affordable.