What do you take for granted culturally? How has your training prepared you to work a certain way? What rehearsal habits have become second nature to you? What is the vocabulary you use when communicating with actors? Why do you make theatre at all?
Part of the lab is coming face to face with the “truths” each of us brings to the discipline of directing (and that gentle bemusing moment when you see that someone else doesn’t work that way at all). Part of the lab is being able to name what you consider the way to work because it may not be the way you’re working. Part of the lab is feeling a little lost when you’re the one who is supposed to be the guide.
And this can be exciting. And terrifying.
It is important to remember that what we are doing is challenging the status quo of how theatre has been made in the past. What we are doing is an experiment. And like all experiments, it may not work.
There is a prologue to Jean Cocteau’s ORPHEUS where the actor who will play the titular role appears in front of the curtain and says:
“Ladies and gentlemen, this prologue is not in the script. Doubtless the author, if he’s here tonight, will be surprised to see me in front of the curtain. But I have a request to make. This tragedy he has given us to perform is a ticklish affair, and so I’m asking that you wait until the very end to express any objections to the way we play it. You see, we’ll be performing very high with no net to catch us if we fall. The slightest distraction from the house might make us lose our balance. That means death for me and my fellow actors.”
The same sentiment can be said for the 12 of us, working from great heights without a net (and in many cases, without a playwright). Trying to limit our own objections.
In many ways, the agreement the 12 of us have in coming together to make this lab is one of “all bets are off,” in terms of our training, habits, vocabulary and even our cultural norms. They are our springboard, sure. But we’ve got to climb.
And, as a collective, agree to jump.
— Annie G. Levy, New York City