Scholarly Focus: Creativity, Innovation and Excellence
As a director, I have always seen my style akin to weaving rather than sculpting. Like a composer I strive to weave individual strands of performance, design and text to create patterns, metaphor, narrative, all intricately laced together to portray (I hope) engaging and entertaining insights into human nature. To me, directing has always been about collaboration: the craft of group innovation and creativity — the elegant and extraordinary ways we work together to create meaning. My attention for the past five years has focused on collaboration through two distinct branches. The first is the theatrical style of devising; the second is the Michael Chekhov acting technique.
Devising, in my definition, is the act of ensemble created text, movement and performance. From my early graduate classes in performance studies through my initial work as a playwright, my interest in adaptation and physical theatre has been a strong influence in my artistic accomplishments. The term devising, although relatively recent, describes a style of theatre that has always been compelling to me. As a director working most often within a university setting, the academic atmosphere with it’s rich core in research and freedom for exploration has provided excellent resources for creating new works. In the context of a liberal arts environment where interdisciplinarity and the diversity of ideas are greatly revered, devising is an excellent bridge between artistic, scholarly and institutional goals. My work as an actor devising with the Tectonic Theatre Project has also offered me excellent opportunities in professional ensemble-created performance. These professional experiences have continued to feed my directing work, keeping me ‘honest’ as well as in touch with innovative new ways to integrate multimedia and work with actors and designers as well as sequence text and create narrative.
The Michael Chekhov technique is a method of character study and play analysis which stresses strong connections between physical and intellectual approaches. This method seeks to develop characters kinesthetically and requires collective commitment from the entire ensemble as a whole. Although some of the work is done alone, the most relevant inquiry takes place within group work during the rehearsal process. In directing and acting, I have found this kind of ensemble exploration of text to be both physically and intellectually freeing and an excellent medium for working in particular with undergraduates for whom both risk taking and thinking divergently can sometimes be major obstacles.
Through both devising and The Michael Chekhov technique, I continue to find new and meaningful ways to take collaboration further. As a director, my goal is to work with other artists to articulate through performance how to challenge our society, strengthen our communities and navigate our life choices in the best possible ways. With an intentional attention to the collaborative process in my theatrical work, and in partnership with the extraordinary contributions of my colleagues, the productions we seek to create embody our highest aspirations for both shared artistic innovation and excellence.
For a video of a university wide presentation I gave on devising, please see the Performance, Playwriting, Presentations Tab – bottom of the page.
For a video presentation for the National Michael Chekhov Association on the use of the Michael Chekhov technique in my production of ‘The Seagull’, please see the Performance, Playwriting, Presentations Tab – bottom of the page.