August 2015. We are in Syros for yet another World Wide Lab. It’s the 5th edition and there is nothing better than celebrating number 5 on a beautiful Greek island surrounded by the sea and by great people. Last year, at the end of our lab in Rome, which I produced with my courageous associate Donatella Codonesu, I wasn’t sure the Lab was going to have life again. Mostly, I was pretty sure, I must admit, that Rome was not such a good idea, as the money investment was important and the direction of the theater (Teatro Due, now closed) made our life miserable. Yet, when I started to think of Rome and to work on it with Donatella, who trusts my instincts and follows me to the moon, I thought it was a good idea… and now I know it was! Basically Rome pushed us to leave NY, our nest, and to think big. To think international. And to rethink the Lab in order to making it working better for us, for the actors and for the audience who come see what we do in very few rehearsals.
Now we are in Syros, thanks to Ioli Andreadi and to the Syros Institute. Not everyone is here, four directors are missing, but fortunately the work, the collaborations, the creativity is anyway at its best. I feel that with this edition we have reached what the Lab was created for. I see true collaboration, I see the willing of talking through problems, I see endless support among the directors. There is no competition, if ever there was some, no judgment, no negative feelings, there is only one world: collaboration.
Which brings me to my new and completely not prepared collaboration with Jay Stern. In fact, I was supposed to work with Vidhu Singh, our member from India living in San Francisco, and with Esther Jun, in Canada. Both of them for personal reasons had to drop off and I was left alone. Then Jay and Ioli jumped in and naturally, as Ioli is the Greek liaison In Syros, I entered the room with Jay at my side. I proposed a piece on Oriana Fallaci, the legendary and controversial italian journalist and writer, brilliantly written by Emilia Costantini. I have discovered the play in 2013, I had it translated and performed in a reading in 2014 in New York. As soon as Ioli and Jay, our fantastic 2015 artistic directors, announced the theme – Greek tragedy, Greek mythology – I proposed the play about Oriana, and specifically the section where she speaks about Love as Cancer, about Panagoulis and her mother. Oriana is like a mythological tragic figure and her idea of love as cancer is of course material that seems to come from Ancient Greece. I wanted to give to the performance the structure of the cunto, an ancient form of story telling that has its roots in Greece, but it’s now alive only in Sicily. The cunto bases its storytelling on breathing: when a cunto performer tells about a battle, the breathing becomes different, rhythmic in a way that gives the audience the sense of battling. So, the performance I was envisioning was setting emotions on breathing, a different breathing for each different emotion.
Again, collaboration. Jay and I have never worked together, yet it seems that we think alike sometime, or in any case it seems that we could work together giving energy and idea to each other. Yesterday during the open rehearsals someone pointed out that Jay talks more than me to the actress – the beautiful and very talented Ifiyeneia Griva – and that made me thinking… why is so? The answer is that I enjoy watching my piece, and by ‘my’ I mean the one I proposed and therefor though through, as seen by another director, and a director I trust such is Jay. Not sure how he’s feeling about our work, especially as he is also the artistic director and our very strict conductor… because directors can become mean and erratic.
I know though that the piece is coming together and it is impressive to have such results in very few rehearsals. Also Oriana is becoming alive in this Greek island. Oriana and Panagoulis. In fact, because of this piece, Ioli has decided to have Panagoulis – a political hero in Greece – linking the three performances on stage. ‘Panagoulis is necessary during this time in Greece’, Ioli told me with her usual soft voice. Panagoulis and Oriana are necessary like the rest of the show that the other team are building.
Necessary and great. The work is so great that we are already thinking ahead. Maybe coming back to Syros, maybe going to Taiwan, maybe touring back to Rome. Who knows. I know that Syros is going to stay with us for a long time and maybe forever. We met few angels here Thanos Foskolos and Penelope Aslanoglou, who are giving us so much and who are now part of the Lab as much as Donatella became part of the Lab last year.
The Lab. Not another Lab. This is our Lab and it’s getting better by the year. And for that I smile… I smile big.
If you want to see our Lab in Syros, on Saturday night the performances will be streamed live. Check our Facebook page and our website for the details.
See you here and now, in Greece, or somewhere soon in the world.
— Laura Caparrotti, New York / Rome