Dramaturgy in Lockdown: Re-Thinking the Role of the Dramaturg in the Digital Space

Dominique Beatrice T. La Victoria, Ateneo de Manila University


Archipelagic Imagination and Decolonial Aesthetics: Enduring Imperial Duress, Colonial Detritus, and Fantasies of National (Be)Longing


The transposition to digital theatre by Filipino theatre artists due to the COVID-19 pandemic should prompt a necessary shift in the Filipino dramaturg’s role in a theatre production. Using the Auction of Yoyoy Moonbuggy’s Head (2021) performance under the “MAKBETAMAXIMUS: Theatre of Destruction” online production—a deconstruction of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by university theatre organization Tanghalang Ateneo—as a case study, this presentation traces a shift in the dramaturg’s role: defined by scholarly research and public relations and confined to one physical space pre-pandemic. In this production, the dramaturg takes on a role that fuses directorial and curatorial work, collaborating with performers and designers to devise a performance streamed live online to a public audience. Negotiations of physical space scale up due to the confinement of participants in different parts of Metro Manila, with the dramaturg having to negotiate inter-city restrictions (i.e., checkpoints and curfews). This concern for space has also expanded to an ephemeral digital space, wholly dependent on third world resources (i.e. internet access, reliability, rotating brownouts). Given the politically charged nature of the performance (drawing on the fanaticism of the Rodrigo Duterte regime prevalent in the online space), and the ethnographic relationship between Filipinos and social media, the dramaturg’s role in relation to the audience extends to social media strategy: discerning the best platform to host the performance and optimal time of streaming, while ensuring the safety of the performers. As we move towards a post-pandemic theatre, the Filipino theatre industry must begin to see dramaturgs as creators, curators, and planners able to negotiate spaces and audiences beyond their pre-pandemic responsibilities.

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CCSEAS Conference 2021 |