Keeping Performance Alive (Potluck Festival 2021 Review)

Potluck Festival is Tablespoon Theatre’s annual event bringing you the best of Glasgow’s emerging artists and their newest works. While many people have been digging theatre’s tomb since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic (and with seemingly more success than those who started it at the birth of film, television or the internet), Tablespoon Theatre is building its cradle. They seized the potentials of the online space and expanded their scope to international artists while giving the opportunity to spectators to engage worldwide. For one, I followed Potluck from Hungary. Though remote theatre – a bit of a paradox in itself – certainly has its challenges and limitations, Tablespoon show-casted a selection of artworks which approach it from a range of creative perspectives: video-performances concerned with and playing on technology; an interactive, live zoom-call performance and web-installations using video, text and still images. Together they comprise and are embedded in a thoughtful, well-considered space where you will be taken good care of.

At, you are greeted by a mildly psychedelic website design by Jessica Paris, co-founder of Tablespoon Theatre Company and the festival director of Potluck. As swirly as the background is, the icons which lead you to the performances stand out clear, each with a smart design hinting at their theme. Once you click, you dig into the micro-universe of an artwork with additional information about its creators and motives. There is a fine selection here of playful, thought-provoking and touching performances about digitalization & body image obsession; racism and misogyny; mourning; fatphobia and self-awareness; sexual violence, myths and the construction of narratives and identities; memories and remembering – to provide but a very brief and unavoidably incomplete summary. Hopefully, it makes it apparent though that Potluck offers a range of different genres, formats and themes so you will likely find some you like. Watching them made me feel like a birthday gift wrapped into other people’s creativity which I jointly give to myself with the artists – this is what I call co-creation. Perhaps most strongly present in the piece “Self Portrait”, the spectators are invited to think and feel together with the artists, immerse themselves in the experience and actively reflect on their relation to their own and other people’s body – a remarkable achievement of body-awareness in this disembodied age. Engaging with the artworks, a trust gradually developed in me towards them. It became clear that they are all of high standard and they were created with great care and effort which helped me to put away my otherwise numerous concerns about online theatre and just let myself be guided through this journey.

The only issue with Potluck was that it was unfortunately short, only three days long. While this might have motivated some people to grab the chance instead of endless procrastination, it gave a very brief time to meaningfully engage with all six artworks. Due to other commitments, I watched five of them the same day (the sixth, “Casa Etera” got sold out) which left me little time to immerse myself in the wonderful performances and installations. Also, both the deliberate content and the time spent online quickly got overwhelming. Nevertheless, Potluck Festival was a fantastic experience – a virtual cradle of new-born plays, swinging between spectators and performers. One of its most important achievements was keeping the creative energies alive and motivating emerging artists to labour on the re-birth of theatre rather than on its burying. So congratulations to all organizers and performers for bringing performativity into the virtual space and in the name of fellow art-lovers, I hope that we soon get to see other amazing works from Tablespoon Theatre and/or that they might consider extending the festival.

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Published by Máté Tenke

Máté is a Joint Honours Student at the University of Glasgow in Theatre Studies and Politics. Aiming to combine the creativity of arts and the analytical thinking of social sciences, he looks for innovative ways in which art can contribute to societal well-being. He hopes to promote interdisciplinary collaboration and a collective sense of responsibility among people which he finds essential in political systems based on participation. His main interests involve post-colonial theory, sustainable development and post-development discourses, and applied theatre and education. He is currently working on an international exhibition series presenting the history of electrographic art and a video-performance dealing with isolation and a wide-shared sense of desperation for physical contact due to the Covid-19 pandemic.