In the age of COVID-19, where gathered bodies pose an existential threat, digital space has become the default site for theatrical storytelling. This swift turn toward digital space has caused a turning away from materiality. I have an interest in reclaiming materiality by exploring how scenic design artifacts can give performances of their own in those spaces. In 2020, along with Penn State School of Theatre colleagues Dr. Jeanmarie Higgins and Ryan Douglass, I co-founded Prompt: A Journal of Theatre Theory, Practice, and Teaching. Prompt is an open access, online journal that serves as a public space where theatre artists, educators, and scholars converge to exchange ideas that prompt new thoughts and practices. In Volume 2 (ongoing), we explore how scenic models, in their afterlife, take on new purpose in digital spaces by pairing photos of scenic designers’ discarded / ruined models with playwrights who, in turn, write short plays or musicals that take place in the worlds the models invite them to stage. To date, Prompt has spawned 22 new works co-created by emerging and established artists. The website is fully accessible and includes audio performances of all plays as well as podcast interviews with notable artists / scholars.
James V. Ogden