In THE MAN WITH THE FLOWER IN HIS MOUTH, the play I was exploring at the Lab, Luigi Pirandello addresses the Before and After. How sometimes in “not more than a minute” everything can change. You miss the train, or answer the phone, or visit the doctor, and that’s it. All from now on will be different. I have been haunted by THE MAN WITH THE FLOWER… since I encountered such a before/after moment in my personal life. However, having investigated this text with my collaborators at The World Wide Lab this August, I could begin to identify a new before/after, as it was happening to all of us. Together.
Before reuniting three weeks ago in New York, the members of The World Wide Lab had shared two previous artistic experiences: Meeting for the first time at the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in the summer of 2010, and coming together again in 2011, in what we all remember as a rather stormy October, for a short, equally-stormy, residency at the Watermill Center on Long Island. In between, many emails were sent, Skype conversations held, and ideas exchanged — uncertainty followed the initial excitement and confusion quickly led to frustration. At the same time, an infinite amount of inspiration, based on those two shared experiences, kept it (and all of us) going somehow. In all honesty, before arriving to New York at the end of last month, I simply did not know what to expect – the glorious light of the warm summer sun or mostly cloudy days with a chance of thunderstorms. I just knew that, come what may, I needed to be there.
Today we are a few hours before our final showcase and a mere few days before this entirely amazing 2012 adventure comes to an end (where did all the time go???). Tomorrow we have already scheduled a full day of discussions about our future: The next stage, the next Lab, what happens AFTER we part again, back to our day jobs, our countries, our next directing projects. Although it seems like even BEFORE any of that actually happens, the WWLab and its members have already crossed that line, into the AFTER.
I could see glimpses of this shift throughout our process: In the absolutely fascinating journey Laura Caparrotti and I had in our artistic collaboration – how we slowly bridged differences, learned about and from each other, and arrived at our tech yesterday with so much support and respect for each other’s work. I could see it in the way Laura Tesman, Evan Cummings and I kept returning to our Silent/Speaker discussion group, making sure we attended to each other processes, listened, observed, and offered feed-back. I felt it every time I met with Laura Tesman, Jay Stern and Chang Nai Wen to ensure the work of WWLab directors Jocelyn Yuchia Chang (directing from Taipei) and Esther Jun (directing from Toronto via Skype) would be presented in the best way possible.
But perhaps that “one moment” of change was crystallized last night. We had just finished the third and last chaotic day of tech rehearsals. Some of us were upset. Others stressed. All of us were extremely tired after working for more than long 12 hours in the space. We gathered on the stairs outside Irondale spontaneously after our official end-of-day meeting was over. We looked back at the last few days, evaluating our decision making process. It was anything but an easy moment. However at the same time, there was a clear, fundamental, mutual understanding between us that we were listing these challenges in order to make sure they were going to be addressed and faced in the future. Despite all that did go wrong, we did not doubt our future together, as we so often did in the past. Last night we were a family, with all the closeness and tension that being a family means. In that moment, we were closer to what we originally envisioned two years ago than we have ever been before.
— Orly Rabinyan (Tel Aviv, Israel)