Postcard from NYC - Meet the Directors

Co-director Hannah Wolf shares discoveries about the process of creating the second phase of EARTH (a play about people) with fellow directors Harry Poster and Jeremy Pickard

Could you speak a bit about your role as directors (and how there came to be a team of you?)

My role as co-director comes from a place of constantly changing, adapting to the needs of the project and rooms as they arise.  As one of the few members of the Phase 2 team who was creating with international teams in Phase 1, this process has been about finding the balance, between what the NYC ensemble is creating and what the Satellite Teams have made and where their interests lie. There are a lot of voices in the physical and virtual room for this show and directing this phase on some days is about marrying vision and on some days about marrying ideas and on some days about marrying voices and on most days it's a mix of those three. We're still figuring out what this project is, and this development process has been a huge step forward in uncovering the play. Is there a team of Hannah? I'm not sure about that, the Team of Hannah constantly shifts between directions I want to keep discovering and the directions that the event is going in. 

How have you worked with both the remote teams, and the participants of EARTH in NYC?
I was Team Leader for Romania for Phase one, where we took the Superhero Clubhouse guidelines for EARTH and created an hour long show based from that. We sent NYC one scene to use in their version for Phase 1 and we've used that same scene for Phase two, but in communication about changes, movement and thoughts. Phase two was about honing what had already been made. For Team China, they originally sent a video for phase 1, but have now scratched that and sent us an entire new scene and material to work with. This phase has been  very collaborative, for teams like China; Team China would propose something, we would discuss and edit the scene in the room, and send back a new proposal. And vice versa. 

What have you discovered about this blend of working remotely and together in the same space?
The internet is my best friend and time zones are my worst. It's been an interesting process, trying to contact people over email, messenger, international texting, youtube, skype and whatever other interfaces we can find. China often blocks google and gmail, so continuing the conversation with Team China has proven difficult, logistically. Trying to communicate dance, the feeling of the room and emotions through text and video (often with collaborators who speak English as a second language) means we have to find a new set of vocabulary.

How does the decentralized nature of the project and your roles as co-directors create opportunities and challenges?
The decentralized nature of this project is great and challenging. As a director, it's rare to get such an in depth look into another's process, to bounce ideas back and forth and back again and have every choice questioned. It's nice to get that constant feedback and it keeps me on my toes in the rehearsal process. It's challenging, because besides there being at least 3 voices in the room (not counting the 8+ playwrights), it took us a little to figure out what Phase 2 was about, what story we were trying to tell with this workshop and what holes there are in the story telling that we need to address. The beauty of this project is that the different aesthetics and scripts and movement made by so many diverse artists match the goal of the piece: it's a play about people and because of that, it's a bunch of very different plays, created by very different people, inside of our larger framing device.