Cloud 2020 incite was born as a response to our concerns about what is happening around us in the world, in the Spring of 2020. We created it using Aristophanes’ The Clouds as a stimulus and an inspiration, and we used the ancient text as a scaffold on which we built our own construct.
Our work falls under the umbrella of hypertheatre. The term hypertheatre derives form Gerard Genette’s concept of hypertextuality. Genette used the term in literature to refer to any relationship uniting a text B (which he called hypertext) to a text A (which he called hypotext), upon which it is grafted. Genette called this process a transformation, in which the hypertext (text B), evokes the hypotext (text A), without necessarily mentioning it.
In the same way, hypertheatre and hypertheatricality refers to all the active links and connections which set a play, or script, or theatrical production in a relationship to a previous one. Hypertheatre is the active, radical and creative process of transformation which informs incite theatre’s adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy The Clouds.
In ancient Athens, comedy focuses on a particular target in society, which the playwright feels is tearing the society down. It uses comedic tools to make this target look as offensive as possible, worthy of ridicule and even repulsion. Comedy is also a “call to action”, it incites change and invites revolution. Aristophanes’ The Clouds attacks the commodification of education, and moral relativism as it is being “sold” to students.
And so, we turned to The Clouds as a play which deals with the corrupt state of education and incites change. It drew us in as a comedy about the dangers of rhetoric and the meaning of “truth”. We were inspired by how Aristophanes uses comedy to urge us to reach our own conclusions and never to relinquish our ability to contemplate. We were intrigued by how his characters strive to explore the intricacies, premises and subtleties of an argument and wonder about the relative nature of truth and justice.
In our creative process, we found fertile ground to ask our own questions: who are the providers of education for our young people today? How do our Universities commodify education? How do educators and learners alike exist and interact in these “shopping malls of learning”? What is the value of what is taught and what is learnt in the world of austerity and precarity that we live and work in?
We found ourselves steeped in the creative process in the early months of 2020, when we could only meet and work “in the cloud” while the Coronavirus pandemic was around us. As a consequence the virus and its effect on our present but also potentially our future, became one of the main threads of exploration in Cloud 2020 incite.