Kayaking for theatre

I don’t often talk about the rehearsal process, specific techniques I’m using, or my preparation for a production. But I’ve been having so much fun on Jordan Hall’s Kayak that I really want to share some of the work we’ve been doing.

To start, the text of Kayak has some very specific references to environmental disasters and human rights violations that are a result of an environmental crisis. As a director/dramaturg, I love a complicated text with nested references – it gives us a lot to dig in to. Jordan Hall has done an incredible job writing complicated characters, and then expands the complications by adding a real/surreal aspect to the crises mentioned: many of the references are imaginary but evoke real-world crises. These complications, these details, are opportunities in theatre. They’re things to thank a playwright for. They’re a gift.

We spent three days at the table, reading through the script, combing through a research packet I created, discussing the impact of climate change on the world.

Once we got on our feet, we started building a movement language, one that could be used throughout the play as an additional avenue for storytelling. This collaborative work involved mirror exercises, sculpting, dance, and other exercises that both created the movement for the show and an emotional through-line for the actors. As we continue to work with this movement, we add more layers, weaving in what we have discovered about the text, characters, events, and climate change. It’s been a really rewarding way of working.

And then last week we took the rehearsal outdoors – we went kayaking! An excellent exploration of the physical work, the sounds, the environment. And gorgeous. Here are some photos from our kayaking trip – I hope we see you at the show!