Today was a thrilling day. It was our first gathering of all the collaborators in one room to experience the unveiling of a new play called CAUGHT.
2by4 was formed with the idea that theatre is best made through a robust process of authentic collaboration - collaboration in which all the disciplines of theatre sit at the table together in conversation about how best to breathe life into a story.
The playwright Christopher Chen started with an inkling of an idea. As he tells it:
In 2009 I was very fortunate to get the chance to work on a theater piece in Beijing for the Beijing Fringe Festival. While I was there I visited Art District 798, a entire district devoted solely to contemporary Chinese art. Knowing what I do about the Chinese government's penchant for controlling public expression, I was shocked to find myself walking through gallery upon gallery displaying what appeared to be subversive art. My first thought was: Wow, maybe things are more free here than I thought! But my second thought was: Or maybe there's more here than meets the eye; after all, wouldn't seasoned, professional "narrative shapers" play long games too subtle for a simple tourist like myself to perceive? These thoughts and doubts, along with the overall sensations of surreal dissonance I felt walking through that district, have always stuck with me; they are what I'm exploring in this play.
We decided as a company that this was an idea we were excited to work with Chris to bring to life. So as Chris began the process of fleshing out the story we gathered an amazing team of actors and designers to be a part of the process of conceptualizing the world of the play in tandem with Chris's writing.
So far we have had several discussions as a group about issues that interweave themselves throughout the play and together have done some collective research around the Chinese art scene as well as life inside Chinese prisons, two worlds that will feature prominently in the play.
This lead us to today - a day in which we sit around the table and dive into the results of Chris's first draft. A day that is part of an almost year-long developmental process to help nurture this mind-bending, insightful new work into existence. This is an exciting jumping off place - a deep breath and a leap into a process in which we will both make new work and also test our ideas as a company about what the container of extended and intentional collaboration across theatrical disciplines can manifest. Onward!
- Paul Cello, Producing Artistic Director