Me. You and Me. The Group.

by Ioli Andreadi

in Global Connections

Post image for Me. You and Me. The Group.

(Members of WorldWideLab)

What does it take to build an international community of artists so they can collaborate with one another?  What does a mutual cultural exchange look like?  One example that we can be proud to see being nourished in our theatre field is World Wide Lab, a collective of international theatre directors hailing from Israel, Germany, Greece, Italy, Canada, India, the U.S. and Taiwan who are presenting their first public festival at Irondale Center September 4-7, 2013.  The group first met at the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in 2010 and they’ve continued to collaborate since.  They have gained the support of the Ministry of Culture R.O.C. (Taiwan), Taipei Cultural Center in New York, Taiwan Academy, Israeli Consul of Cultural Affairs, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Canada Consul for the Arts, the Italian Cultural Institute in NY and one of their directors, Laura Tesman, is a recipient of TCG and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Global Connections grant.  What follows below are thoughts from Co-Artistic Director, Ioli Andreadi, about how these artists of different cultures and methodologies work with one another.

Me. You and me. The group.

A great deal of how theatre works relates to these three ways of being.

Me. You and me. The group.

Monologues performed by one person. Dialogues between two people. And then group scenes, crowd scenes or even this old device, the Chorus.

And the exercises. Exercises directors use that are supposed to make an actor connect to herself/himself. Exercises that make two actors connect with each other. Exercises that make a group of actors connect.

Some actors find exercises that are designed to make them connect to themselves more pleasant, more easy. Others prefer to take part in an exercise for a pair, to have an acting partner. Others may feel more comfortable in group exercises.

Me. You and me. The group.

This year’s World Wide Lab is also dealing with these three ways of being. The common theme being ‘Ritual’, Program A is called “Two is Company” and Program B is called “Alone in the Crowd.”

Our festival is co-produced by the World Wide Lab, a group of twelve directors from nine different countries, and the Irondale Center.

We are at the Irondale Center now. Each director is dealing with herself/himself: we are thinking about our project individually, we are ‘seeing’ how a scene could be staged, we may have dreams or daydreams that relate to the project. We are also thinking about our project together with our co-director or, in some cases, with our two co-directors. And we are also part of a group of twelve, who plan things together, take part in group meetings and also co-direct their projects with the intention to make a cohesive festival of performances that do not only work individually but also as part of a common plot.

This morning, in one of the rehearsals from Program A, there were three female directors working with three female actors. The three actors were asked by the composer to sing a song each. I was sitting far away so I did not listen to her/their specific request: what this song needed to be about.

The song one of the actresses picked was ‘Nature Boy’: (Preview) . A song sung by a young actress about a boy who is ‘very strange’. He is ‘a little shy and sad of eye but very wise’. For a moment this boy is not alone. He meets the narrator of the story. And talks to him about how ‘the greatest thing’ he’ll ever learn is ‘just to love and be loved in return’. The boy of the song is also not alone when the actress is singing the song. His story becomes her story. They are, together, dealing with the story. And this story unites, as part of the next step in the rehearsal, with the two songs sung by the two other actresses. The three of them – Magdalyn Donnelly, Noga Milsten and Amanda Holsten – sing together, with the support of the composer Erato Kremmyda. The three directors, Laura Tesman, Orly Noa Rabinyan and Jocelyn Yuchia Chang take turns in asking them what to do next. What more to do with the stories they say. To occupy the space with them. To find the joy while saying them. To keep connected while going back to their individual freedom in the space.

Perhaps the above is an OCD way of thinking about today, but it’s inspired by a discussion in this evening’s rehearsal of Interrupted, run by Evan Tsitsias, Chang Nai Wen and Jocelyn, that is part of Program B.

Evan Cummings and I are now going to observe the rehearsal of Waxing, run by Vidhu Singh and Laura Caparrotti, that is part of Program A. Much more will be written soon on this year’s festival by our group of twelve directors, on how each of us observes what is happening here. Which has just begun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIoli Andreadi specializes in devising, ancient tragedy and new writing. She trained at the Greek Art Theatre Drama School, studied Theatre Studies (University of Athens), Cultural Management (MA, Panteion University) and directing (MA, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and King’s College London). She has received the 3rd Greek State Award for New Playwright 2005 and a Fulbright grant for Artists 2010/11 (New York Musical Theatre Festival). She has contributed to the leading Greek actress’s Katia Gerou’s book on acting “When the heartbeats change; Discussions on theatre with Ioli Andreadi” (2010). She is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Director’s Lab and a PhD Candidate at King’s College London as an Alexander S. Onassis Foundation grantee. (London, England / Athens, Greece)