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Facilitation | Collaboration | Direction | Communication
Facilitated Collaboration & Devised Iterations
I've directed this piece through four iterations between 2014-2015. Each with different actors, different designers, different venues, different narratives, different structures, but always we maintained the same sense of spirit and always a scene where people who legitimately do not know the words to La Vie en Rose have to sing it like they really mean it.
This was a devised and collaborative process, which I facilitated and directed.
Communicating direction to designers, actors, writers, producers and engineers to create a cross-disciplinary process that empowers the entire team to move forward together.
As a director of theatre you're simultaneously the crux of communication between the creative teams but also between the audience and the performance itself. Pulling these elements all together for a final show requires incessant strategizing, delegation and communication.
Where most directors might pull the reins, I provide clear direction empowering my creative teams to apply their expertise and perspective.
Our light technician came to me literally minutes before curtain of our second show with an idea to emphasize a moment with some unique lighting. I could tell that this was something they'd really considered. Changing the lights at the last second isn't something that happens, usually it isn't even explored as a possibility. Since even our light board operator was cued into our creative direction, they felt the agency to create a solution that no one else could have made. We went forward with it and it went off without a hitch!
What does it mean to risk it over and over again?
And how do you do it over and over like its new?
Process makes product. During this process I always centered play, which meant lots of games. our rehearsals themselves incorporated games to generate content and to generate form and ultimately to generate our process itself.
It's always about the people in the room.
As a facilitator of collaboration, you are not the driver. You are helping harness and hone-in on the power and direction that the specific people in the room are bringing. The structures, frameworks and organization that you bring as a facilitator, define what your team makes.
Real Risk, Real Danger
We incorporated elements that forced a sense of randomness and inherent play. For example, we started the show with actors literally risking their lives running across a very busy street. It was terrifying, risky, unpredictable. Despite an empty stage, the audience was filled with gasps and chuckles at this silently performed display of senseless bravery.
This is the contract with which we begin our show.
But this piece wasn't just about taking risks in some sort of extreme stunt. How do we risk in the name of love? So these actors risk their lives to share with the audience their love of performance, literally knocking on the locked door, begging to be let in to share.
Unpredictability, Uncertainty, Unrepeatability
Using game and inherently unrepeatable structures, there was a dangerous sense of uncertainty from the performers themselves.
During a sequence of two performers slapping each other, an actor with a corked champagne bottle approaches. The actor (Alex Hathaway) then violently shakes this bottle.
But, they do not know what the bottle contains. Some nights it was simply water and the cork never blew. Some nights it was actual champagne or soda and created a sticky mess.
As a director/leader of a collaborative project, you have to find ways to level the playing field. Even though you are the leader, you aren't driving more than anyone else. You're more of a navigator and guide. I created a performative-director character who spoke with a french accent and always had a cigarette. Creating myself as a character, put me right on the level of the actor. It allowed them to performatively confront this pretend-director. This empowers the team to dissent to create space for disagreement and ultimately for others to begin taking the wheel.