There will always be theatre | Yolanda Mpelé


“There will always be theatre.”
I remember saying that to my friend D. on a Sunday afternoon whilestrolling in the park. It was the perfect sunny day to talk about my fears for the future of the world and the earth shaking disaster I was sure was coming. My friend D. told me “you’re always so dramatic”. I am not being dramatic I said but “the impending doom is certainly falling upon us I can feel it”. I thought the age of aquarius was definitely coming some time this year and that’s when I said but luckily “there will always be theatre”. My friend was sceptical: “so, the world is going to be on fire, civil unrest, fear, panic but somehow actors will be on demand?” I replied that theatre was as ancient as the world and it survived until now so why not this time. But anyway my real survival plan was to have a house with a garden and grow my own food.


The stars aligned (or misaligned) and the world was brought to its knees by a viral monster. I’m still living in my small flat. There was no time to find a garden and plant vegetables. Gatherings of humans are now forbidden. While strolling with my friend D., she reminded me of the conversation we had in January “you were right about almost everything but with the playhouses shut down maybe you were wrong about the whole theatre thing.”
It is true, of course, that the tragedy has been happening in the streets all along and the everyday heroes are walking the streets to demand jus- tice as we speak. I took a pause, gathered my thoughts and, just like in the musicals, I started humming (I mean when emotions are big why not start rhyming.)

I said:
“Theatre is not going, it’s resting
while the western world is resetting

Now we understand black history is just history
how many perspectives have we missed
when old makers thought the audience was not ready?
New narratives are here they’re dying to exist

Even behind a mask, players have been known to play
but the same old tricks won’t make it through
everybody and their mother is begging to say
who are we, why are we here, can I find myself in you?

1 meter apart is the new regulation
challenge accepted let’s make the stage bigger
the timing is not great for a celebration
but like always we are stronger together

Even behind a mask, players have been known to play
humans watching humans is as old as the night
let’s wait for the third act, there is always one I say
theatre is a sport for empathy to ignite

let storytellers make sense of the senseless
the age of aquarius is here somehow
‘there will always be theatre’ I promise
the time on stage is always now”

I then bowed and my friend D. said to me “you’re always so dramatic”.

Yolanda Mpelé is a French actress. She has performed with the Roundhouse Theatre Company in London, La Compagnie Persona, the Line Theatre, the Théâtre National Populaire in Villeurbanne, at l’Opéra de Lyon and at NTGent.