FRAGMENTS OF A PROCESS: A Year(+) in the Life of WWL

 August 2, 2015 (Syros, Greece)

We just completed our third full day of rehearsals. And what beautiful chaos it is. As usual, negotiating new collaborations is a challenge, but the creative frisson is electrifying. We are at turns inspired, exhausted, hungry, amazed, confused, in complete agreement, in disagreement, in awe, thirsty, satiated…all of it.

August 15, 2015

In order to be a good collaborator, you have to be a good listener. You have to know when to step forward and when to step back.

September 14, 2015

Final day in Greece. Can’t believe that a month has passed so quickly. It’s been a fruitful time. So proud of all our work. Of Echo and the collaboration that created it. I honestly think that it may have a future.

October 31, 2015 (NYC. Halloween!)

Can’t believe I’ve been in Taiwan for two weeks already. So many things going through my head right now. Teaching – PinocchioKuafu – my own body – writing – how to communicate the process of devising – grants for next year – learning Chinese – learning a new place. I really need to write in here each day in order to get my increasingly unwieldy thoughts in order.

November 1, 2015

Even planning rehearsal today (every day) is a collaboration.

December 20, 2015

A huge challenge to developing work collaboratively…it isn’t exclusively yours. I can’t keep working on Pinocchio, or on Echo without my co-directors, and yet we are spread all over the globe. How do we make this work? How do we keep developing the work? I don’t want to let these projects die. They deserve to see the light again.

December 24, 2015

Yesterday Jay sent a message to the WWL group about a book he had read, Dreaming in Chinese. It was written by a linguist who lived in china for 3 years and struggled learning the language. I just read the summary, but it looks interesting and it reminds me that I never wrote anything about my time in Taipei. At one point I said that I would write an update to the group about what we were doing, what it was like and any other observations I might have had. I never did it. It’s too bad. If I’d just written whatever came to mind every day, I’m sure I’d have an interesting journal documenting my time there.

April 2, 2016

WWL meeting last weekend. Very exciting. Nai Wen and Jocelyn have put together a very structured and interesting proposal and series of books to read. We’re focusing on trauma and healing (which is actually connected to the “Upheaval” theme in Rome, and Echo in Greece also dealt with the trauma of being forced out of your comfort zone. So actually, I’ve been dealing with this theme for some time. Even with “Story of an Hour” there was the trauma of her husband’s death (or at least hearing of her husband’s death) and the beginning of healing (a vision of a freer future, of a life for herself) which then “fails” because her husband returns (alive), which creates such a shock (second trauma, disappointment, loss of hope) that she dies of a heart attack.

So what am I excited about exactly this year? For years, I think, we have been working towards a purpose (outside of ourselves for this work). Phase one of the work was getting to know one another, figuring out how to work together, how to work collaboratively, what collaboration really looks like. Sometimes these collaborations have been easy, sometimes hard. They have provided moments of great accomplishment, and flashes of failure. We have faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, and yet somehow, each year for the last five years, we end up in a room together. We manage to carve two, three, even four weeks out of our lives so that we can spend them together. Making something. I believe that we have kept trying, despite all odds, because we know, on some level, that this work is leading to something bigger. Maybe we are beginning to identify that. If we can create a template, a structured way of working that can articulate and face the traumas that different communities are facing, that can engage artists and community members in a “process of healing,” if we can bring artists and communities together in a creative and meaningful way, then maybe this experiment of ours will become something more meaningful.

 April 5, 2016

Feeling so inspired. Thrilled to be returning to Taiwan after spending such a productive two months there collaborating with Jocelyn last fall.  Eager to investigate and explore the questions our artistic directors have proposed.  Excited by the many perspectives, ideas and questions my fellow directors have raised. After getting off our Google+ call last week, I found myself obsessed with the research, (shared by Annie) that is being done into the way trauma can quite literally rewrite your DNA. And the evidence that this trauma can be passed from parent to child, and down through the generations. It makes sense to me, something I think I’ve long suspected. It’s both strangely satisfying and supremely frightening to learn that it’s true. I’m still processing what this means personally…culturally…globally. I have so many questions. So much reading and research to do. It’s a good place to begin.

July 16, 2016

Proposals are due for WWL. What are the images from our source material that keep recurring for me? What are the ideas that resonate most? Still obsessed with the idea that the sea of floating suitcases, empty articles of clothing (a shoe, a suit, a sock) and the imprint of the lives that once filled them, borders shifting overnight, the centuries-old olive tree cut down out of spite. Looking back over our recent discussions, I am also reminded of the Chinese myth that I keep coming back to, “Jingwei Fills Up the Sea,” or “Stones of the Jingwei Bird.” Nvwa tries to follow her father to the sun-rising place, but she is drowned in the attempt. Her transformation into a bird (rebirth) becomes a cleansing act of love, a purification, a renewal. Each stick or stone she piles in the sea the story of an individual fight (of resilience in the face of challenge). As the stories (acts, actions) accumulate, they do begin to have an impact on the powerful “sea.”

August 25, 2016

Notes from Skype: Vidhu – “All national histories are founded on trauma.” Parallels can be drawn between many countries/cultures and the events. All of these traumas are a part of our collective human memory. They are accumulating in the human consciousness. When do we reach capacity? Trauma denotes the moment before and the moment after. A change in experience before and after. The repeating of that moment, in the imagination, of the before and the after. The tear that needs to be re-stitched.

August 30, 2016

Watched the BBC Documentary about the India/Pakistan Partition. Can’t even speak. How can we do these things to one another? So many parallels to Taiwan. Can the DNA of a culture be rewritten?

September 29, 2016

Things are really heating up. Digging in with my WWL group, and Francesco arrives today. This should work out because I will Skype with Evan C. and Vidhu on Wednesday mornings, which will give me Tuesdays to shift focus from Kuafu to WWL. I’ve been tasked with taking the first stab at a blurb…

October 7, 2016

Joint Effort Blurb (but mostly Evan C.): Forced from their home, a young woman and her clan must make the treacherous journey that has been made by many others over centuries and throughout the world: the refugee’s journey to escape an exploited motherland and find a place to heal.

As she roves forward with family, peers and strangers – a community without an anchor, stitched together by loss – the elements of the earth (land, air, fire and water) become impediments to survival. In dream memory she begins to hear the plaintive call of the Jingwei bird, to see it flying tirelessly back and forth with pebbles and twigs in its beak, fighting to fill up the vast ocean.

By harnessing the spirit and vision that only the young can access, and by communing with the “dead and gone” – those lost along the way who continue to make the journey as spirits – our heroine becomes a guide through the wilderness, a leader to those willing to follow, and a symbol of hope. Like the tenacious Jingwei bird, they start to rein the elements, gathering the rubble of broken lives to build a new homeland.

October 22, 2016

This week marks the mid-way point of this trip to Taiwan and a shift of focus from Kuafu to WWL. Ifiyeneia and Eirini arrive from Greece on Saturday. David (NYC) and Ethan (Singapore) on Sunday. Tali (NYC) on Monday. Orly next Wednesday, Annie Friday, Evan T. Sunday, and Evan C. the following week. We really are a diverse and international group this year! Can’t wait to welcome our returning labbies, and try to help orient them to this new terrain. Although I still encounter challenges, Taipei is also beginning to feel like a creative home.

October 28, 2016

Wow! I haven’t written in here since before the lab started. And now already on day 5! Official start with (almost) all of the directors present is Monday, but we’re training this week and developing ensemble. It’s going so fast…and as usual it’s incredibly intense. So many things happening. So much to think about. Such a joyous and invigorating place to be.

November 1, 2016

We just completed our second full day of rehearsals with (almost) all of the directors. And what beautiful chaos it is. As usual, negotiating new collaborations is a challenge, but the creative frisson is electrifying. We are at turns inspired, exhausted, hungry, amazed, confused, in complete agreement, in disagreement, in awe, thirsty, satiated…all of it.

— Laura Tesman, New York City



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