A blackout in the theatre signifies the ending of a performance. Those dark seconds when the space fades away, are a moment of rest before the lights rise again and you reemerge carrying something you did not have prior to this ephemeral experience. Whether it is newfound knowledge, an indescribable emotion, or complete boredom, the blackout does not signify that the memory of the performance will perish.
Over the course of the year here at The Grappler we have realized that there is even more to contend with once a performance has ended. Four years ago this publication was created as a space for theatre practitioners to reflect on their craft through a dramaturgical lens. Even then, the publication was spurred on by the belief that there was no ending to a performance, but only the beginning for more discussion and insight.
At the start of the 2013-2014 academic year, we came together as a staff of ten 20somethings who were eager to trudge their way through the bullshit that we often see, and champion the work and ideas that are rarely realized. Throughout all of this, we were inspired by the possibility of forging our own sense of place, one defined by voices of our generation, in a world of theatrical dialogue that seemed to exclude us.
We began by reimagining how The Grappler could function as a dramaturgical space, while also exploring a variety of mediums and traipsing through a new landscape of ideas and performance spaces, so that we covered everything from cheap haunted houses to queer theory. The Arts Issue section served as our bridge with the Chicago theatre community, by bringing in artists and thinkers to discuss vital issues in contemporary theatre. Our themes this year centered around the issues of representation, the staging of atrocities, and queer love. Each of these brought about a quarterly forum and articles that explored the themes in different capacities.
We continued to forge relationships with Chicago artists through our Arts Profile section by using multimedia to focus on artists that push the boundaries of performance. The criticism section strived to access Chicago’s artistic resources by rearing away from traditional criticism that relies heavily on the star system and serving as an extension of marketing the performance, and only reviewing shows after they had closed.
Since the birth of this publication, it has been treated as an experiment that morphs into whatever it needs to be for those that are currently on staff. We, the Editorz-in-Chief, believed that this was our stomping ground to scream about the things that actually matter to our community. We thank our rowdy staff who make The Grappler what it is, and Rachel Shteir for advising us and encouraging us to pursue our impulses as well as Barry Brunetti, Kristin Leahey, and all of the countless other faculty and staff who have assisted us this year.
As the lights begin to come down, we pass the reins on to Maureen Kuhl and Molly Dannenberg, the future Editorz-in-Chief. We hope that they’ll push the blog in new directions, vivaciously pursue new avenues of creative thought, and ruffle some feathers along the way.
Viva La Teatro!
Mike Doyle & Francesco De Salvatore