A Summer Lab and Workshop Production
A man with a clear head looks at life directly, realizes that everything is problematic, and feels himself lost. And this is the simple truth, that to be alive is to feel oneself lost. And he who accepts this has already begun to find himself, to be on solid ground.
— Ortega y Gasset
Photos courtesy of Ellen Gregory, Steve Lange, and ALT
The Artist’s Laboratory Theatre provides a space and time to be lost. In the world of art and theatre, there can be an anxiety of pleasing, of doing things right- ticket sales, subscriptions, scrutiny from peers and critics- all loom ahead of us while we are working, and creep into our minds acting as editors and censors.
There are two components of our summer show, Bombs, Babes, and Bingo. There is the lab portion of the show and then there is there is the show. The lab is designed to work as a physical dramaturgy.
About the play:
An original play by Merri Biechler, Bombs, Babes and Bingo is a play that deals with a war, the fallibility of memory, the divisionof family and the struggle of a scientist’s quest to make sense of his life and work. Bookended by two fixed scenes, a series of ten more is determined randomly in a game of bingo and is played out differently every performance, mirroring the dissolution of a bomb scientist’s mind. Neither the audience nor the cast know the order until the moment the bingo ball number is called out. As a result, each performance is unique and exciting, and according to the math, there are 39,916,800 versions of the play.
In the lab, we explored the play through exercises and experiments. We made time and space for seeing the parts of the play separately, to dig deeper. But our research went further than collecting information. In the world of Bombs, Babes and Bingo, memory is a key element of drama on the stage. Before we started rehearsing the script of BBB, the lab explored intellectually and creatively and physically, the idea of memory. What is the cognitive function of memory? What would memory look like if it as a series of movements in space? What is the expressive definition of memory, what is the literal? What is the physical architecture of memory? We asked the science questions and explore them through art. And we asked the art questions and explore them with science.
After several public performances in Fayetteville, we took the show to Oklahoma City, and then to the New Orleans Fringe Festival.
It is my intention to create a model of working for our future projects. Each story we approach will have its own needs and questions, so how we experiment will be determined by the project. Part of the success of this process will lie in our ability to let go of the anxiety of how and why. So far, we have been satisfied (and relieved) to see the value and relevance of the current experiments. But sometimes we may not. And perhaps it in those moments of feeling lost, that we might truly discover our work and ourselves.
The Artist’s Laboratory Theatre