Monday, June 4

where have I been?

You may not have noticed, but I've been very busy recently.

Where did I go? What did I do? That is such an interesting question. I've been collaborating!

Ok. That's not a great answer. Here's the deal:

Lincoln Center has this program called the Lab, which is development program for young theater directors. They bring about 70 young directors to NYC from all over for three weeks in June each summer, where they explore various ideas and theories in contemporary theater. It's also about redefining theater and how it's done.

One thing they explored last summer was Collaboration-- the relationship between the actors, directors, designers and writers. Since last year, the administrators have decided to explore those relationships further, and so asked 5 writers to develop their plays in controlled environments in May. Each rehearsal room included the writer, a director, actors, one designer and a stage manager. Since my project was a musical we had a composer along with our lyricist and a music director.

In exchange for 3 weeks of unprogrammed and uninterrupted rehearsal time, we were required to think deeply about our collaborative relationships and blog daily about what happened in the room. We also have to give a 3 hour presentation about our process to the directors in the Lab, once they arrive (our presentation is on Wednesday).

There are two purposes to this project: to find a new way of working (one where everyone has a voice) and to present our process in a way that is useful to young directors, to help them understand collaboration, what works and what doesn't.

As a designer, I'm not used to being in a rehearsal room 5 hours a day, 6 days a week. During this project I was expected to contribute to the script and acting in a constructive way (and not design). I came from a completely different perspective than everyone else in the room (visual) and I sometimes felt like my ideas were from another planet. But we were all supposed to be very non-judgemental and open to the process. It was also hard because we had 10 actors in the room, and they all were struggling to find their voices and contribute in a way besides acting and that didn't always go smoothly.

This was exhausting and fulfilling in a way that I haven't been exhausted or fulfilled since grad school. It stretched my idea of who I am and what I can contribute to a process like this. I must say that I want to take this and push forward, use this new idea of myself and contribute to theater. The problem is that I have a role as a designer and I'm not sure that I can redefine it so easily without everyone else changing their roles a little bit. All of these roles are interconnected, it's not so easy just to change what one does...

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