The Play Yet to be Written
This Play is set to Open on October 25th, 2019
The inspiration for this project is three-fold.
The first is for the production itself. In examining the issues important to the current students that I have, the main areas of interest about their generation and the state of the world are: anxiety, loneliness and miscommunication. In further examination of the idea of miscommunication, I offered a prompt story of the Tower of Babel as an origin myth from which to explore stories of miscommunication. I offered these ideas as prompts in my Spring 2019 Introduction to Devising class to see which ideas most resonated with the students. The class was very connected to all these ideas and created beautiful initial forms, texts and moments. We (the students and I) decided to move forward on creating a full piece about these ideas.
The second inspiration for my work on this show is to allow greater connection to student voice through design. In embracing the original ideas from our departmental devising workshop with Dr. Rich Brown in 2011, I am excited that we can now (as opposed to 2014 in the production of 101) utilize student designers (mentored by faculty) in almost all areas of our production. The number of our student design majors have grown and their interest in this process is palpable. The culture of the department too had changed in that designers are now taking devising classes alongside the actors which allows for a background in the work that offers growth with a main-stage production.
The third inspiration for my work on this show is to determine, as lead devisor, how much I can shape student ideas without imposing myself, as someone outside of the generational mindset, on the main concept. In wrestling with issues in regards to 52:15, I have come to the conclusion that there was a canary in our coal mine as we created the piece and it was directing student/ensemble member Casey Venema. A novice director, she was the first to raise warnings that our production was moving in a direction that she felt was focused on men and did not have enough of a female voice. And although I heard this sentiment, since the pieces about men were the cleanest, most polished and most linear, I did not heed Ms. Venema’s warnings. It is a pity she could not direct the piece that summer because I believe the show needed her voice more than mine during this particular process. I can see that now clearly, and have let go of any sort of ego about she being my student and me being her mentor. In that process we were both artists and I should have been more open to her concerns. This is why in this process I have decided as a part of my own artistic growth, I am working hard to build and structure the rehearsal and creation process but to really let this be their (the students) show. I am working on not letting my need to create a polished production mar what is most important; student voice, student intent. This is easier said than done. But that is what I am interested in, as an artist, right now.
In honor of respecting their voices in the process, I have included here not my concept for the piece but the student’s initial ideas in relation to my beginning structural prompts. Although we are still early in determining the central question, and/or container, here is the early conceptual statement as created by the students as a part of their season advisory report to the faculty:
The central story for this piece is the idea of the Tower of Babel from the biblical story, modern day connections and its similar cultural counterparts. The story of the Tower of Babel resonated with many students because of the underlying themes of loneliness and anxiety within the mythos. Many students found connections between the dissemination of language as isolation and the technological age’s dissemination of information as anxiety. The ideas were received very well and many students already started brainstorming at the table. The one concern is whether or not using a religiously associated story as the context for the show would be a sort of cultural or religious appropriation. Many people who are involved with the class/show were vocal about this story being from their cultural heritage and they felt that it could be done respectfully. Furthermore, it was agreed that the production should focus on that respect for the source material and work to build a show with that respect in mind throughout the process.
For Evolving Research on this rehearsal process and show please see here for the Student Research: https://bucknelldevisingfall2019.scholar.bucknell.edu/