Dionysus Theatre, the contemporary company housed on the Mornington Peninsula, introduces the theme of the second Areté festival of short plays written specifically to the theme; a company initiative that’s now an annual event and that has invited the esteemed Coral Drouyn to contribute.
Each year a new theme is released and writers can submit their short scripts for consideration. Anyone is welcome to submit. Writers can be published, previously performed or virgin wielders of the theatrical pen. Local writers are encouraged – of the four showcased playwrights in this year’s festival two are from the peninsula, one from Melbourne and one from interstate. Submissions are invited from interested directors, artists who wish to respond to the theme in their own mediums with work to be exhibited at and/or used within the performance itself and Dionysus also welcomes alternate theatrical interpretations on the theme.
This theme is lifted from the work of American writer and presenter Sherry Turkle. Turkle is the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She obtained a BA in Social Studies and later a Ph.D. in Sociology and Personality Psychology at Harvard University. She now focuses her research on psychoanalysis and human-technology interaction. She has written several books focusing on the psychology of human relationships with technology, especially in the realm of how people relate to computational objects.
We were drawn to her and this idea given the prevalence of social media in our lives and the expectation that it’s necessary. However, we wanted to ask that with all our social media dependencies, have we lost the ability to be social? Are we so busy creating a persona acceptable for outsiders to view that we’ve lost track of who we really are?
Technology is evolving, developing and advancing at ever increasing rates and we can never fully be up to date. What does this mean? Who will we become as a society? Who are our friends and do we really know them? Do they know us?
Given that Ancient Greece was the birthplace of Western Theatre, the company takes its name from the patron of Drama; the Greek god of wine, pleasure and fertility (suggesting a great night out). Every year in Athens, festivals were held in Dionysus’ honour, including competitions between playwrights as their comic and tragic works were performed, much drinking and debauchery. We at Dionysus Theatre thought we’d do some theatre and serve some wine, but we might just leave it at that for now.
Extending on the Greek theme, is Areté. The word Areté originates in ancient Greece and has many interpretations. While difficult to accurately translate, it is generally understood to mean striving for excellence, being the best that you can be and is also wound up in the notion of moral virtue. Dionysus aims to present a theme each year that not only sparks reflection of our society and its morals but also to provide a platform for artists of all theatrical natures to hone their craft, providing support for excellence and an audience for feedback.
This year’s works explore many varied interpretations of the theme. The issue of meeting people online and what level of privacy living online affords us, how well we know someone through what they construct on social media, the preference to communicate online rather than face-to-face and how people adapt as technology evolves and invades our lives.
Dionysus Theatre’s Areté Beta Festival is proud to showcase the written works of Matt Allen, Shane Isheev and Emma Workman Bolt. These pieces are to be directed by Beck Benson, Lenora Locatelli and Jett Thomas. We are also thrilled that our first Arete festival, Areté Alpha, attracted the interest of the esteemed Coral Drouyn and that she will now be directing her own work, On the Line, for this year’s festival. Dionysus also welcomes artists in residence Erson Carbajosa, whose work on the theme will be exhibited in the theatre foyer, David Hatcher whose construction features in all five of the performed works and Pearce Hessling whose self-devised performance pieces serve as episodes to divide the one-act plays.