"The Lab" Days 1 and 2

11:10 PM / Posted by Ashley /

It's 11:30 pm and I just got home from Day 2 of the Directors Lab. I figure I must post now or else I will fall way behind and I want to make sure I keep up with blogging. I know that if I don't start doing this I will wait until this weekend... which will end up turning into next weekend... and then happen at the end of 3 weeks. I'll be overwhelmed with everything that all I will post is "I attended the Lincoln Center Directors Lab. It was good." or something like that...

Yesterday was orientation. We arrived at 2:00 pm and met in the lobby of the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. We took the infamous group picture and proceeded downstairs into the rehearsal room of Lincoln Center for orientation. I overdressed. Part of it was my mother calling me early in the morning with the gentle reminder of "if you look like an ass in that group picture, I will never let you forget it". There are about 65 directors this year from across the world - Denmark, Zimbabwe, Canada, Australia, Germany, Thai Land, Greece and throughout the United States. Most everyone arrived that morning and headed directly from the air port to orientation. Somewhere in the next three weeks we will be addressing international theatre and the role of the director in the various countries of origin.

We were introduced to Anne Cattanneo, lab director and Winnie Lok, lab coordinator and a slew of ASMs and PSMs we'll be working with over the next three weeks. They provide us with a brief oversight of what the lab is about, the guiding principles "Directors run the lab and make their way through the lab... it's driven by ideas... an idea lab as opposed to a career lab. DO and EXPLORE things you don't know. This is NOT a showcase..." We are now part of a large network of directors who have passed through the lab in previous years.

This year's theme is about questioning what makes better theatre - the things that are close to us (ritual, background, experiences etc.) or the things farthest from us?

From my notes:
- LCDL is an opportunity to connect with others
- This lab should question the fundamental assumptions of both the academic and professional theatre worlds
- Most preexisting rules are nonsense
-No one gives you anything - MAKE IT HAPPEN YOURSELF!

We broke up into groups, two of which attended performances at Lincoln Center and mine, that attended a talk with Kate Whoriskey, who touched on a variety of topics including her personal journey in developing "Ruined", her approach to new work, dealing with gender bias and finding your voice as a director. I'm glad that there are a lot of people thinking about these important topics. I will be talking more about this as the week progresses but overall I'm absolutely thrilled with the discussions we're having and themes that we're thinking about (and it's only day 2). I can't wait to see where it's going. These are topics I've been thinking about in my own work and discussions that I never got to have in academia. It's incredibly stimulating.

This morning I took part in an experimental lab session called "The 7 Holy Sacraments", led by one of the lab members. She has been thinking about religious ritual and its place in developing new work. She focuses especially on the 7 Holy Sacraments in Catholicism and by taking the "religiosity" out of them, creates pivotal "life changing" moments that we applied to our own lives and create work around in small groups. My little paragraph doesn't do this workshop justice. I'm excited to see where she will take this, especially since we're returning to it tomorrow. I can certainly see the beginning of a new directing pedagogy come out of something like this. In any case, this workshop made me realize that apparently water has played an important role at every pivotal moment in my life (one of my colleagues pointed this out to me)... I could ramble on more about my personal relationship to water, but I'll save it for another time.

This evening I worked with Andy Paris, one of the original members of the Tectonic Theatre Project and a collaborator in "The Laramie Project". We did "Moment Work", focusing on creating pieces from a starting point other than text. We spent a great deal of time talking a structure/deconstruction/structural analysis and what this means in developing new pieces. Andy discussed his experience working in previous productions with Tectonic and on his new show, "Gold Star Ohio".

I hope to elaborate more on these panels in addition to what they've been forcing me to think about personally and professionally really soon. I can't stress how excited I am for the next few weeks. These few days have been incredibly awe inspiring.

Pictures soon.

Tomorrow I'm part of a group that's presenting a three hour panel on "Social Conscious Theatre". I'm not going to give it away yet, but we've got (what we hope is) an exciting evening of events, discussion points and experiments planned. Full report soon.

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