One Week Down at Banff

The 2011 Theatre Lab at The Banff Centre is in full swing in the Canadian Rockies. This is one of our biggest Labs ever with almost 90 participants developing eight fascinating projects. Here are some thoughts from a few of them:

Day 2
By Marge Betley
Dramaturg on Froggy and Untitled World's Fair Play
It seems as though we’ve been here a very long time already. The communal experience of living, dining, and working together all in a few contained buildings, within the relative seclusion of The Banff Center and the stunning surround of mountains, carries a sense of being suspended in time and space… And if this feels like more than Day 2, I’m wondering just what Day 9 and Day 15 and Day 20 will feel like… I’m dramaturging two projects which both push the boundaries of conventional thinking about how plays are made. When Jen Haley first thought about making a play in the form of a graphic novel, she actually crafted the script of Froggy in Adobe InDesign – a move that from the very start encouraged a playfulness with image, space, and point of view, that permeates our work together now. The collaborative creators of the Debate Society arrived here, not with a traditional text-based script, but with a world (or more accurately, two worlds) of research about the 1893 and 1933 Chicago Worlds Fairs, along with a string of exploratory sketches, upon which to begin building their play. The developmental processes for both works require us as collaborators to approach them on their own terms, to discover and support the individual and idiosyncratic heartbeat of each. It also requires a leap of faith from the authors – one that has been remarkably and joyfully present from the first hour of rehearsal.  I can’t wait to see where we are in another week, two weeks, three weeks….

Day 4
By Colman Domingo
Playwright/Performer in Wild With Happy
Last night we received a blessing from the local Blackfoot Tribe, Elder Tom Crane Bear. Watching the entire group of 90 artists partake of the blessing is truly a humbling experience. In that moment you see every artist reminding their spiritual selves to enter the work. To be a greater part of community. That includes the trees, the mountains, the buffalo, the water. We are in the bosom of the Canadian Rockies communing with the elements. Trying to tell our stories and trying to deepen our connection to the "Source." Today I feel so blessed. I wake up to tall Pine Trees and the sound of the wind whistling outside my window and I feel peaceful. Last night we had Bison for dinner. The food here is extraordinary! I am sold! Banff+Sundance=2gether4ever!

Day 5
By Elisa Bocanegra
Actor in Like Water for Chocolate
I was invited to the Sundance Institute Theatre Lab to work on  Like Water for Chocolate but being here makes me feel that I'm part of a giant theatre company! Yesterday I got to peak into a rehearsal for Stuck Elevator and saw singer's from both the pop and opera world working together to create a song. It was amazing! Getting to know actors from Tanzania and discovering that some of the music from their culture influenced my favorite popular Puerto Rican song is so cool. This is a time of discovery, friendship and collaboration...lucky me!

Lead photo: