After a but joyful series of opening remarks—full of expressions of gratitude for the participants, volunteers, and the EASTAP family, evoked beautifully by EASTAP’s honorary president and mater familias Josette Féral—the 2023 EASTAP Conference « Dimensions of Dramaturgy » kicked off with two keynote addresses. In the first, Maaike Bleeker proposed a vision of the theatre as thought apparatus—a dynamic composition of human and non-human elements from which understanding (might) emerge. Like Adorno’s thought images, Bleeker’s thought apparatus exists not to explain but to allow the spectator to grasp elements and put them together, performing her own live act of dramaturgy in the moment of the performance.
As we head into two days of parallel panels, performances and master-classes, covering a panoply of topics and inviting conference attendees to embark on an intellectual choose-your-own adventure of sorts, how might this same thinking be applied to the dramaturgy of the conference itself? What understandings will this particular composition of elements guide us towards? And how might those understandings—and our acts of personal dramaturgy to reach them—be structured by the choice to dedicate an entire opening day to plenaries and keynotes, directing the our attention to the examination of decolonisation and theatre in Greenland and perspectives of Maaike Bleeker, Janek Szatkowski, and SIGNA? And how will the understandings we construct diverge, despite their origins in these moments of shared reflection?
These questions, of course, merit (and require) reconsideration at the end of this year’s conference, when participant/spectators can look at the tapestries of understanding they have chosen to weave with the materials provided to them during the upcoming days and trace threads back to these opening moments of structure and directed attention.