Devising Our Future

It's 2021 and we're amid multiple pandemics that are revealing the structural failures, challenges, and opportunities facing the nonprofit theatre. Where do we go from here? What are we bringing with us through the portal, and what are we making anew? The Devising Our Future series asks theatremakers to consider a future theatre field where resources and power are shared equitably in all directions, contributing to a more just and sustainable world. This series is curated by HowlRound Theatre Commons as part of our tenth anniversary celebration.

Submit your ideas for the future

Figure with bulbs of fire
Five Protocols of Theatrical Indigeneity
Essay

Five Protocols of Theatrical Indigeneity

An Audio Essay and Sound-Ceremony for Reciprocal Action

2 July 2021

Lisa Cooke Ravensbergen shares how new story bundles can “disrupt the noise of colonialism” through what she calls protocols of theatrical Indigeneity.

A Black woman with her hair wrapped on the top of her head and her right hand up.
And It Feels Good
Essay

And It Feels Good

The Responsibility of Theatre, and the Imagining of a World Without Oppression

29 June 2021

Dane Figuera Edidi muses on how imagination provides the power to conjure an equitable theatre.

Dice
Future Every Day
Essay

Future Every Day

1 July 2021

Carra Martinez, with thoughts from Justin Favela, Ty Defoe, Ron Berry, and Leyya Tawi, writes about how the future is a structurally minded labor of the everyday.

An illustration of a woman in a green dress holding a stick up to a circular light above. She is surrounded by plenty of these lights, each connected by lines.
Commonplaces
Essay

Commonplaces

Notes on a Future That Has Already Happened

28 June 2021

Matthew Glassman shares his commonplace—a collection of quotes, poems, reflections, dreams, doodles, images, and more, and a portal to reach forward to our future selves and for our future selves to reach back to us.

A man inflating a mirror with curtains.
What Theatre Do We Want to Return To?
Essay

What Theatre Do We Want to Return To?

27 May 2021

Mike Lew and Rehana Lew Mirza sit down to discuss how COVID has forced a breakup between artists and theatres and what it will take to get back together again.

Illustration by Silent Fox, inspired by the essay.
Post-Apocalyptic Theatre on Native Land
Essay

Post-Apocalyptic Theatre on Native Land

28 May 2021

Vera Starbard wonders if the time of the American theatre has come to an end and imagines the future of the performing arts looking a lot like it did in the past, pre-colonization.

Illustration by Silent Fox, inspired by the essay.
When Theatre Will Become Fully Itself: Digital Supratheatre and the Fight for an Inclusive Future
Essay

When Theatre Will Become Fully Itself: Digital Supratheatre and the Fight for an Inclusive Future

Translated by Cecilia Laslo

25 May 2021

Mihaela Drăgan introduces digital supratheatre—a theatre of the future with two underlying principles: technological change and social change.

Five people holding different sections of an auditorium and piecing them to the central part of the auditorium..
The Future You Build
Essay

The Future You Build

24 May 2021

Melisa Pereyra writes to students of the American theatre from the future, sharing what the field looks like years down the road.

An illustration of multiple hands assembling a broken art piece.
Reimagining Public Theatres as Collectively Organized Cultural Institutions
Essay

Reimagining Public Theatres as Collectively Organized Cultural Institutions

28 April 2021

Zenkő Bogdán believes public cultural institutions should be redefined from the perspective of the people around it: it’s artists, employees, and audiences. As an exercise, she has begun to reimagine a future public theatre’s rules of organizing and functioning—and wants each and every reader of the document to participate.

An illustration of two Black people with different hairstyles and outfits, surrounded by clouds and suns, against an orange and blue background.
Speculating Black Queer Futures
Essay

Speculating Black Queer Futures

27 April 2021

JD Stokely and Nkenna Akunna speculate about what a Black queer future looks like, speaking to sleep and rest, spirit, cyclical time, and more.

An Image of four panels. The first has a waste basket and crumbled paper in it it. The second have children looking at a stage with their backs to us. The third is a person in a green shirt with long black hair sitting at a desk in and office talking to a person who has their back to us. The fourth panel has a podium with a slot, and various rectangles and circles surrounding it.
Creating Theatre for Our Future, Together
Essay

Creating Theatre for Our Future, Together

29 April 2021

Mary Kathryn Nagle predicts four main ways the American theatre will devise a future where theatrical storytelling does not directly contribute to white supremacy.

An Image of two hands with the shapes of continents them, drawing a galaxy, a sky, a door, and other objects.
Write to the Future→
Essay

Write to the Future→

26 April 2021

Georgina HL Escobar believes the impossible can be written into existence and shares that the power of imagination is the first step towards active realization.

Illustration of Black people tearing down barriers.
A Future Built by Us
Essay

A Future Built by Us

An Imagination Exercise with The Movement Theatre Company

25 March 2021

The Movement Theatre Company members David Mendizábal, Deadria Harrington, Eric Lockley, Taylor Reynolds, and Ryan Dobrin share their visioning for a more equitable theatre field.

Image of four tableaus with people experiencing time passing.
Letters From Warsaw
Essay

Letters From Warsaw

24 March 2021

Marta Keil and Grzegorz Reske share letters from the past and the future, from June 2020 to June 2029, detailing the changes to the theatrical landscape in their hometown of Warsaw, Poland.

digital pathway
Deep Time
Essay

Deep Time

23 March 2021

Daniel Alexander Jones shares his prayer of late for whatever is next in “theatre.”

An image of a hand, and in its palm is a shakespearean actor with his arm extended offering an actor from the Lion King, who is offering a clown, who offers a leaping person. They appear in front of a teal background that is bordered by red curtains.
The Future Becoming
Essay

The Future Becoming

22 March 2021

Deborah Cullinan reflects on the path that enabled us to arrive in a future of shared resources and collective power.

a colorful illustration
Catalyzing Climate Justice by Divesting from Fossil Fuels
Essay

Catalyzing Climate Justice by Divesting from Fossil Fuels

19 February 2021

Annalisa Dias and Ronee Penoi, on behalf of Groundwater Arts, argue that there cannot be a just arts sector within an unjust world, and that contrary to what people think, arts workers do have the means and the agency to make change. What is needed is a new narrative.

a colorful illustration
The Technological Theatre Experimenters
Essay

The Technological Theatre Experimenters

18 February 2021

In envisioning of the future, Jared Mezzocchi begins by questioning: “What if theatre’s identity is not lost in the digital, but instead is enhanced in it?”

a colorful illustration
One Day We’ll Realize Our Shoulders Aren’t Raised to Our Ears
Essay

One Day We’ll Realize Our Shoulders Aren’t Raised to Our Ears

Mad-Libs for a Culture Shift

17 February 2021

Nia Farrell shares her vision of the future—one that exists now, on this very Earth, and that begins with the declaration: “I am adamant that Blk people exist in the future.”

Illustration of HowlRound's logo as a mirror, reflecting a colorful performance
Devising Our Future Through a Commons-Based Approach
Essay

Devising Our Future Through a Commons-Based Approach

16 February 2021

Jamie Gahlon, HowlRound’s director, kicks off the Devising Our Future series by reflecting on the necessity of working together now to co-envision and co-create the future we need for the theatre field.

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Series are collections of content curated around a specific theme. HowlRound works with curators to develop topical pieces meant to spotlight current events and happenings within the commons.