In a most inspiring introductory speech, Benjamin Lloyd, the creator of this incredible week long residency, talked to us about the commitment we make to each other as an ensemble over time. He coined us as the theater of today and urged us to be in the moment while on our residency in the woods. With Ben’s encouraging words ringing in our ears, we collectively sought out the outmost rim of creativity from sunrise till sunset and beyond. And yes, even the skinny dipping at 1am with snapping turtles in the lake was a product of the theater of now. Thank you, Ben.
The progress one can achieve away from civilization with no internet, no phone, no “real life” obligations, is unmeasurable. Our first night, we decided on the pieces to be included in our fall show, choosing both repertory and new pieces, that we had been workshopping over the past two months in our rehearsals in NYC. After 8 hours of intense discussions and chanting to get people on board (“uncivilized” chanting became a thing for us mimes in the woods) we finally crafted an outline for TOPOGRAPHY. And yes, EVERY SINGLE mime at the end of the night was happy with the pieces chosen. Wow, what a first residency day… unwinding at the cabin is certainly a necessity.
With our basic structure in line for TOPOGRAPHY, we were able to build upon our overarching goal for the week: to create a dramatic progressive. A dramatic progressive is a recurring piece that leads through the entire show. Where better to create Topography, which includes the definition of the mapping of landscape, than in the woods. One of the main components of creating our dramatic progressive was live mixing, during which we were given prompts and played with the ideas in our bodies. We came up with beautiful and deeply personal material that we’ll get to share at White Pines in Philadelphia tomorrow and then as part of our fall show, TOPOGRAPHY.
The White Pines residency could not have come at a better time for Broken Box Mime Theater, which had just invited four new members into the ensemble, including myself. To have a week where all of us could play, create, live and breathe together was a singular most unique opportunity. We truly had the chance to get to know each other through play and work. I was especially struck by BKBX’s commitment to always work to the fullest and most collective threshold one could push towards. Becky had prepared a rigorous calendar for all of us and boy did we cross everything off the list (literally!).
Most of all, I am floored by the amazingly talented ensemble of incredible mimes! Everyone’s voice (no pun intended) was respected at all times and there was always an underlying understanding that every voice needed to be heard to push forward the furthest. How can 12 artists be together 24/7 for a week and get along at ALL times. I still don’t totally understand, but this is real and I am witness to the beauty.
It is difficult to put into words how our week in the woods shaped us as artists, as an ensemble and as human beings, but we strive to share our experience with all of you on stage this fall in TOPOGRAPHY, so please join us at the Wild Project in NYC September 25– October 19th.
Thank you White Pines, thank you Benjamin Lloyd, and thank you Mohican Outdoor Staff for creating the best meals and desserts and for the homemade bread every day. But most of all thank you BKBX for becoming my new family, for making me an integral part of the ensemble and for the support and love we share, I am one lucky mime!