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From Kayla – Color Me Happy with Crayola and Lemons

March 4, 2013

“Wait, does that require a computer?” That was Gary’s response to the question of who was going to write this blog about our Fresh Voices: ReEvolution experience. Let’s just say that the computer is not Gary’s favorite tool for communication, except when he uses it as a scene partner on stage.

That presents an interesting question: what is a good tool for communication?

I’d like to think that in today’s technology-driven world, communication is more efficient than ever before. It’s so easy to share every fleeting thought with tweeting, texting, status updates, iChat, Skype, etc. It’s no longer a novelty to see a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or even your 12-year-old nephew carrying around an iPad.

The iPad is the cream of the crop when it comes to communication. An iPad can do pretty much anything! But can an iPad write a play? Even more specifically, can an iPad help four completely different people write a play together?

Well, to make the disclaimer now: No iPads were used in the making of Fresh Voices: ReEvolution, and no apprentices were harmed in the process!

We used an ancient material known as paper, and even dusted off the old Crayola washable markers. WOW. And yet, I have never experienced a creative process with such efficient and poignant forms of communication.

From the first day, not knowing where else to start, we mimicked the Touchstone brainstorm approach of writing ideas on sticky notes and sticking them on a large piece of paper on the wall. This then lead to more sheets of paper where we expanded ideas into lists. Lists turned into concepts and the concepts evolved into the components of what would soon be our ensemble piece.

After the first week, we had almost covered one entire wall of the rehearsal space. We had diagrams, charts, timelines, and graphs all aiding our creative process. This was how we communicated. When words failed us, we grabbed the marker and the blank space on a piece of paper, taped it to the wall and presented our idea to the group visually. In a room filled with four individuals who could not be more unique or with artistic backgrounds more diverse, we had to be creative in our expression. If you saw our individual pieces, you know what I’m talking about. Regardless, we never moved on to the next point until we were all on the same page, often times literally.

I remember one specific moment in writing our Lemonception script, when we had encountered an obstacle. How do we get to the end? We knew we wanted lemons to fall from the ceiling but we were not sure how to get there. Then, one person began to brainstorm out loud and within seconds we all knew what was going to be said and out of sheer exhilaration for the simultaneous discovery, we all leaped from our seats unable to contain our joy for arriving at the solution together!

To whatever degree technology invades our personal and work lives, I can confidently say that it will never replace the intensity, immediacy, and intimacy of communicating face-to-face with another human being in the same room. That is why theatre will never be a lost art form. There is no iPod, iPhone or iPad that can replace real eyeContact.

We all learned priceless skills through the Fresh Voices process. We lived through the journey of creating original work out of nothing. We managed our own budget, marketing, and production elements. We directed, designed, composed, and performed in the same breath.  But the best skill we discovered was how to communicate as a real ensemble. We learned when to respond and when not to respond. We learned how to listen. But most of all, we learned that live, in-the-moment, human communication is vital in creating anything worth pursuing.  And no, Gary, we don’t need a computer for that.

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