World Wide Lab, our international theater directors collective consisting of 12 directors from 8 countries, first met at the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in the summer of 2010. Since then we’ve done a residency at Watermill Center, Long Island followed by two projects at Irondale Center, Brooklyn. This is our fifth year together in Roma, Italy! This is our first Lab outside the United States thanks to Laura Caparrotti, founder of Kairos Italy Theater (K.I.T.), who arranged the current Lab in partnership with Teatro Due. During the past four years, World Wide Lab, has evolved organically and survived various turbulences. “While the role of Director can often be insular, we were inspired by the opportunity to share our techniques, our ideas, our stories – all of which are deeply rooted in the places we come from and the experiences we’ve had.” Moving our location from New York to Roma has inspired each and every one of us in powerful way. Participating in the Lab has inevitable challenges each year, including the stress of producing, fund-raising and marketing; the complexities of negotiating relationships as co-directors of artistic projects and working with actors who are participating in multiple projects. Then, there are the logistics of navigating accommodation, food and transportation in a new city and acquiring grants and visas to attend the Lab. The path to Roma hasn’t been easy, but I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to live and work in this beautiful city. Thanks to bureaucratic and financial tangles, it hasn’t made sense for many of us to stay for the entire duration of the Lab. My co-director, Evan Tsitsias (Canada/USA), was here for the first two weeks of the project. I arrived for the second week and will be here till our show opens. I had to ‘hit the ground running’ as Evan and the actors had already done the foundational work for our piece, Lion in the Streets by Canadian playwright, Judith Thompson. Lion in the Streets is an exquisitely dark and provocative play with characters in extreme situations and it’s ultimately about love, forgiveness and hope. Fortunately, Evan and I have worked on two other projects and our friendship and respect for each other are strong enough to weather the complexities of co-directing. Now, he has left and handed the metaphorical baton to me, and it’s up to me to lead the actors through the final stretch of the work. It’s been a treat to work with a wonderful ensemble of super-talented, physically expressive, unpretentious Italian actors – thank you Francesco, Ketti, Mauro, Laura, Alessia and Ilaria! Condensing our piece from a full length play to a forty-five minute piece and translating the piece into Italian and making it a bi-lingual piece, directing actors who aren’t fluent in English…these are just some of the complexities that have been negotiated along this journey.
Last year at the Irondale Center, there were some tensions in our collective and I began to question if we would even survive, but the gorgeous city of Roma has provided the perfect antidote. Apparently, the average life span of an artistic collective of this kind is about five years, but our experience in Roma gives me hope for longevity. To live and work in Roma, to have rehearsals and meetings mixed in with exploring historical monuments such as the Vatican, the Coliseum and the Pantheon, eating the famous gelato at the best gelato place in town by the Vatican and having a birthday celebration on a gorgeous boat on the Tiber with a delicious multi-course feast – these are some highlights. Locating our current Lab in Roma and moving from the United States to Europe has radically altered our perspective. The United States is no longer the nucleus and we are finally becoming who we said we are – a truly international collective that dissolves borders. Jocelyn Yuchia Chang, a Taiwanese director, and I spent an afternoon wandering through the ancient ruins of Ostia. She remarked, “They are not ready for Asia yet.” They are definitely not ready for India yet, but slowly and surely we are heading East. Next stop, Athens?
– Vidhu Singh, New Delhi / San Francisco