Krissy Vanderwarker is a professor, freelance director/maker & the Co-Artistic Director of Dog & Pony Theatre Co. Directing credits include: Home Invasion, Midsommer Night’s Eve (Actors Theatre of Louisville – upcoming Jan. ’17), Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure (Lookingglass), Harry & The Thief (Pavement Group), The Grown-Up (Shattered Globe), Psychonaut Librarians (The New Colony), CLEAR, What Once We Felt (About Face) and As Much As You Can (Hendel Productions West). www.krissyvanderwarker.com
In this 4-part feature, PerformInk continues its INSIDE series and takes you behind the scenes of The New Colony’s production of PSYCHONAUT LIBRARIANS through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes.
Krissy Vanderwarker, Director
After first my read of Psychonaut Librarians by Sean Kelly, I closed the lid of my computer, heaved a huge sigh and then jumped out of my chair with a million ideas zooming around my head. I immediately grabbed a pencil and started sketching thoughts, initial images, and questions – lots of questions. Mostly the questions were about how we were going to make something as epic and cinematic as this. And above all else, why did the play demand to be live in the theater? Why would an audience want to trek through the snow to see this?
After the initial rush of energy and muses passed through me, I slumped into my chair, and the huge sigh returned. I knew then that if The New Colony and the wonderful mastermind playwright, Sean, would have me on this project, the experience of making the play would be equal parts zooming muses and heavy sighs. I sat up. What if that was the guiding rule? What if I implemented a “makes me tired” rule?
The Tired Rule, roughly stated, is this: if the answer or solution put forth makes any of us tired, it’s not the right solution. If the answer or solution gives us energy and makes us want to high five each other (zooming muses abounding), then that’s the right solution.
This rule has been immensely helpful in our process. Just the other day, Sean and our wickedly talented composer/sound designer, Matthew Muniz, emailed me an idea about giving one of our more magical puppets a delightful song and dance break in the climactic battle. If we had all the time in the world and an unlimited budget, the answer would be “hell yes,” but instead the idea made that heavy sigh return. I had to invoke the Tired Rule. Because the rule has been in place from the beginning of our collaboration, the designers were awesome in response. A round of I-get-it’s and I-hear-you’s bounded back to me. That’s when I knew we really had a team that was working their butts off and were ready and willing to play by the rules.
Yesterday, I was putting on my many layers after rehearsal. The day was long, but we had made progress and found lots of laughter. As I stooped to pick up my scarf, I heard a zoom. That zoom was the realization that by creating the Tired Rule and assembling this team of artists, we were actually solving the essential question – “why this play now?”. As the character PJ says, “I’m a lonely loser, and I can’t do anything by myself. I can’t do anything without you guys. On my own, I’m a lonely loser, but I am not just a lonely loser, I am a team, and as a team, I’m great…And I think it is fully beautiful to say that the best thing I am…is you.”
We could use a bit more teamwork in the world, right?