Day 24: The life-changing Lab, part two
This is the second half of a two-part conversation between Lab staffer Alice Bever and Lab alumnus Evan Tsitias. You can catch up with the first part of the conversation here.
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AB: What was your biggest take away from Chicago Lab in 2011? What kind of imprint did it leave on you personally and professionally?
ET: The Chicago Lab has a special place in my heart. I think it’s because of its size that it allowed us to really get to know the other directors because of the intimacy of it. The Lab was very inclusive, and so hands-on that it offered a place to really sink your teeth into your own techniques as well as others’.
On a personal note, I met two directors that have become such a special part of my life and continue to collaborate with them in various capacities. You know both of them! The Chicago lab was instrumental in forging my collaboration with Leonie Pichler who invited me to Germany to work on a project that was born inside the week of DirectorsLabChicago. Amazing.
AB: You’ve recently moved to the US but continue to direct and run the Lab in Canada. How has moving to the States shifted your perspective and priorities? Any surprises in maintaining close ties to your native country while integrating in the Houston theatre scene?
ET: The longer I live in the States the further away I begin to feel back in Toronto. I’m lucky enough to have a solid foundation there so when I return to do these labs or direct a show or workshop a new play of mine, I have the resources to not panic. But it’s definitely made me realize quickly how distinct the theatre is in each city’s ecology.
I work at Theatre Under the Stars in Houston and those shows are vastly different than what is going on in Toronto, which has this resurgence of indie theatre overtaking the city. My first year in the States I lived in New York which influenced me immensely. I still get pangs of sadness when I realize I can’t walk out of my place and find my rush ticket. Ah New York, ruined me for any other city! Still, Houston has an incredibly vibrant and rich theatre community.
Evan Tsitsias adds to the discussion in DirectorsLabChicago 2011.
(Photo by staff photographer Anita Evans.)
AB: In addition to your Canada-USA connection, you also helped found the World Wide Lab. Can you tell us about your role in that Lab and its upcoming projects? How has the project changed since its inception and where is it headed?
ET: A group of us from the 2010 Lincoln Lab did a residency at Robert Wilson’s Watermill Centre to see if we could actually collaborate after the Lab. We had 13 directors from all around the world and it was a wild week of creation and instigation and we decided even after that insanity to continue. So we partnered the first two years with Irondale Centre in Brooklyn to create a festival called “The Directors Feast”.
Our mandate is that we must co-direct every piece. Sometimes two directors, sometimes three! You can only imagine the dynamics of that. Thirteen directors with radically different methods and training forced to collaborate on pieces to create 15 new pieces. It was magic. It still is.
We’ve had our ups and downs naturally but we are committed to this experiment. We’ve now done festivals in New York, Italy, Greece, and this year Taiwan! It continues to bloom into something we never expected. Every year a new experience. We are like a family… a dysfunctional one at times, but a family nonetheless.
Who knows where it will lead. It transforms into something richer every year as we continue to develop our working relationships. We get to work with local actors in each country we travel to, which has been one of the largest perks of this project. It’s truly a project of a lifetime.
Evan and another Labbie in a mask workshop during Chicago’s 2016 Lab.
(Photo by staff photographer Anita Evans.)
AB: Anything you’d like to share about your upcoming projects in 2016/2015?
ET: My OCD keeps me going strong. I am working on another draft of a new musical I’m writing titled “In Black”, trying to find funding for a feature film I wrote titled “Aftershock”, prepping for a project I am creating in Taiwan in November with the WWL, and trying to keep it all straight in my head. I’d kill for an assistant, but unfortunately I’m in theatre, so I can only pay in appreciation and high fives!
Alice Bever is a performer, director, educator and playwright, currently living between Europe and Wyoming. She is developing project1979, a multi-platform storytelling performance about the 30-something generation. The art of performance inspires Alice to investigate, exchange, share stories, amuse and bemuse. Theatre makes her happy, is how she serves the world and how she is about to be the best version of herself. Alice is an honored to collaborate with DirectorsLabChicago. Attending the Lab in 2011 served as a pivotal time in her career and perspective as an artist and for that she is truly grateful.
Photo at top of page by staff photographer Anita Evans.
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