OPINION

National Theater: From fear to derision

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“Whatever you write will be misunderstood. People are up in arms,” said a friend with a long-time connection to the National Theater and who feels great pain over what is happening and the swirling rumors that, in the past few days, have been focusing on its drama school.

People are divided into hostile camps: The students, who also have to deal with the pandemic and online classes, are confused, no-holds-barred epithets are flying, professors with a recognized contribution are being dismissed, the boundaries between (needed) discipline and authoritarianism are blurred, behaviors are blown out of all proportion and denounced as violence, insult or harassment. Tolerance, on both sides, is stretched thin and there is a surfeit of both “guardians of the established order” and those who are trying to reform human nature according to their rigid templates.

Terror imposes its conditions. Whoever disagrees with what is happening does not dare to express their views publicly for fear of suffering the consequences, of bullying, which also affects their relations. “It has become difficult for me to say I work at the National Theater,” confesses a woman who has worked for years in the state institution. The only voices that are listened to and gain traction are the accusatory ones. It has become easy to accuse and difficult for the accused to prove their innocence. Of course, we do not refer to acts punishable by law.

Shaming is accomplished in no time at all. And, while many see the drawbacks of the situation in private discussions, no one dares point them out publicly. In other words, the public space is shrinking and withering, without a counterargument. Whoever fights terror or tries to stem the tide or even expresses reservations sees the gallows set up with their name on it.

The disseminated terror, the cultivated fear and the panic, with the resulting rash decisions, do not bode well for anything. Not even for cleansing movements such as #MeToo.

If the energy spent recently was concentrated on highlighting the very good productions of the National Theater or promoting the high level of the drama school, regarding both its professors and students, the evaluation would bring appreciation and, by extension, an upgrade. The abuse is not only a result of actions, but also of omissions; the result of the derision heaped not only on people but also on institutions.