A delicious din.
That is the best way to describe what is was for the Lab to move into Irondale today. For every three hour rehearsal block, there were three different pieces rehearsing in the same massive, but shared, space. We knew this was going to be the set up and we had prepared ourselves (and our actors) as best we could.
And it turned out to be the best possible working environment for us. I guess we should have seen that coming.
Here is why it worked (or why it worked for the two pieces I am working on): The energy in the space surrounds and connects all of the simultaneous rehearsals. I felt like my casts was the most focused and energized today. We gave them an impossible task. To draw energy from the work going on around them but stay rooted in their own work. Everyone had to fight for their work AND fight for the success of all of the other rehearsals taking place. It could have gotten heated and competitive, three-hour sessions of trying to “shhhhh” the other working groups. But there was an unspoken shared sense of responsibility and community.
One of the pieces that I am working on for the lab is called TREE ARMY: The CCC Project. It explores the Civilian Conservation Corp, the first program in FDR’s new deal, and one of the more successful, if short lived, government programs to date. The narrative of the CCC (at least how my cast and co – director, Jay Stern, are exploring it) has to do with taking on a sense of shared responsibility to tell a story, having nothing and making something modest but miraculous from it. When Evan C commented on the fact that we are doing the same play, I didn’t get what he was saying; the projects are all so different from each other. Perhaps it is possible to see all of the projects through this same lens of making something modest but miraculous out of nothing. Even without a private space, we turn what could be a set back into an opportunity. Into the only way we could successful work.
Observing each other becomes something constantly in your peripheral vision, not something you actively seek out.
And did I mention the delicious din?
Annie G. Levy (New York, NY)