Project Archive

Scott's summing up of the Portland Collaboration

Scott sent this summation of the process to the group that he works with regularly in LA a week after Bob left Portland.

"Hello All,

Bob Lockwood, the fellow from England left two days ago, Anet went to Switzerland for ten days yesterday and all the others that have passed through over the last month are also gone and the house is alas, still again. This is good because I am tired. Extremely pleased with what has gone down over the last month, but still tired.

Lockwood arrived six weeks ago and it was at a time where I was having a relapse of sorts and shortly after he arrived I was back in hospital with no idea and no real motivation to do anything except maybe move on out, but I felt a responsibility to him having made this trip so we began the process of interview and discussion of the work right there in the hospital. I told him we could take it as far as it would go under the circumstances and that's how we began.

Lockwood is the fellow who has been leading a group of professional actors in England and I was very impressed with the grasp he had on the work and the progress he and his group has made over the last two years with very little input from me aside from an occasional e-mail.

He told me that when he first started doing the work on his own, he was concerned with whether or not the techniques would hold up without me or not. In other words was this a personality driven process or could the process hold up on its own if the director had a pretty good understanding of it. Bob has studied with many leading directors in the experimental field over the years and concluded after a time that the process did hold up and didn't necessarily need me to lead it.

I mentioned in my last e-mail on July 10 that we were setting out to do a very ambitious project that I had very serious doubts about being able to pull off because I didn't know if my people were ready for it and the time frame seemed much too short ( a little over three weeks to compose it. People who have worked with me know I take a long time when I work on something). I wasn't even sure if the process would prove itself at all because it had never been challenged like this before.

Our intention was to use the process to discover, rehearse and structure some pre written text (5 poems, each one selected randomly by each of the cast members) and in between the poems work improvisationally, once again totally process driven.

Would the process hold up as a valid approach to discover the structured scenarios and would the process hold up as improvisational entertainment itself in between the fixed sections?

The piece was entitled "(incredible) Things Happen On The Way To Other Places". The cast consisted of Bob, Anet, Carla, Angie, Jenn and Molly, all from my advanced group. We met four or five times a week and ended up with improv in between each poem and improv before and after the poems. It came down to 3 minute improv before the first poem, 6 to 7 minute improvs in between each poem and a 3 minute improv at the end. The rehearsed poems ran about 3 minutes each, so the total piece lasted about 50 minutes.

By the end of the rehearsal process I knew that we had crossed over into some special territory, but was still as surprised and delighted as the audiences seemed to be by the results.

A local producer attended and was so taken by the work that he ran out and secured the studio over at OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting) and did a 3 camera shoot with a full crew last week. It's going to take some time for him to edit it, but we're all pretty excited about the whole thing.

We know now, that taken to a certain level, the process actually works and can be used to build structured pieces or improvisational pieces and I am thrilled about it because I never really knew if it could work this effectively. Rudy was up here at the beginning of the month and Tom Ericson showed up while we were in rehearsal and both got a taste of the advanced group while Susanna Knittel was here for the performance and can give you her take on it herself. We also have a video of the performance.

Bob has taken hundreds of photos and will have lots to say about the work and his visit to Portland on the website , but it's going to take time to get it all up there. Some is up already. We also expect to get a book and CD Rom out of it. We've even played around with this little dream of getting all the England people and Portland people and LA people together for a real bash some day.

Another quite amazing thing that happened during all this craziness is that I have been feeling better than I have felt in a long time. Incredible things DO happen on the way to other places. Take care. See you all soon.

Peace and love,

Scott "