Conversation with Thomas, Lauren, and Molly

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

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MOLLY: Hey all, Molly here. I wanted to pop in before this episode begins since it’s quite different from our other episodes, the ones that we’ve done and the ones we plan to do. So as a heads up, this is pretty much raw, unfiltered, unedited, an impromptu between myself, Lauren, and Thomas. As three people who have been involved with Grey Box kind of from the beginning in some way, shape, or form. I decided to leave this episode pretty unedited. So there’s the transparency of what it’s like behind the scenes. And they’re swearing, I didn’t edit that out. It’s a very meandering conversation that takes lots of tangents, and I hope that it provides some insights, that you enjoy the improvisational component to all of this; and perhaps you'll discover some gems in there on your own, all right? So enjoy.

They’re recording now.

THOMAS: it’s recording

MOLLY: Cool. Um okay, so, just like

THOMAS: Can I eat carrots?


THOMAS: I like really want carrots.

MOLLY: You’re good. Um so I was having a conversation with someone about, someone who is also creating a podcast. And they were going on about like all the things that they had to put in place to make sure that the podcast, that like the clean little 30 minute cut worked. And from like making sure the kids were being picked up and dropped off at the right places, and making sure like the laptop worked and the charger, like everything that goes wrong, that could go wrong, yeah, we also present like here’s a perfect little

THOMAS: You just scared me because I like literally checked off each of those things as you said that.

MOLLY: Did you? Uh so yeah. I was having that conversation and thinking about how do we be transparent, of like, we are a hot mess, and also, as we are like attempting to keep our shit together, making things work.

LAUREN: Well, one of the show's was literally called Tangled Mess.

MOLLY: I know

LAUREN: And if that doesn’t kind of give us away, I don’t know what does.

MOLLY: That title was used against me this week. I can’t remember what I said but I set up for a perfect, like, you might say it’s a Tangled Mess. I was like, no! Now I have that with It’s Not that Simple and Tangled Mess. Well, shit.

LAUREN: I mean, some things just aren’t that simple.

MOLLY: Oh there it is. So we have lost venues consistently, annually. I think it’s the Spring of sorry, Fall of 2015? No, must have started Spring 2016 and then we lost a venue, Spring 2018, may we only lose venues in even years. But like two weeks before the show, kinda losing venues.

LAUREN: So you’re saying we should hibernate next Spring?

MOLLY: Next Spring? No, we have this space. Have I? Have I told you that?


MOLLY: We’re co-leasing this space now.


MOLLY: Yeah, that’s why our junk is here. I mean inventory.

THOMAS: It is probably 15 beetles in there now

MOLLY: Don’t say that

THOMAS: I’m sorry

MOLLY: I know

THOMAS: I was just shook. A bad moment in Grey Box history, that beetle coming out of nowhere. Goes does in that

MOLLY: Yes it does

LAUREN: He's trying his best

MOLLY: All right. So like, what’ been, like, we’ll do the like warm, fuzzy approach first. What’s been the greatest challenge that has not been solved with Grey Box?

LAUREN: Wow. I don't know how you just phrased it like that but I'm taking it, it's mine. I'm going to, I'm going to steal that for later use. No, I just love the way you said that.

MOLLY: Thank you

LAUREN: Greatest challenge that has not been solved?

MOLLY: And I think we, we, we’re a really resourceful bunch and we, we can make things work but there have been things that haven’t gone well.

LAUREN: Honestly, anytime we use candy in the show; and then like we have a separate set of rehearsal candy, then show candy, and then candy that’s been on the floor, candy that’s been unwrapped, and none of it we can eat until like the day of the show. And then it's like a new round of candy, and then suddenly it's okay to eat it, and we have all this other stuff that's like, “Well you could, but it might have been in someone's pocket.” And that's just like, that's, that's a challenge right there.

MOLLY: Yes. We have lost performers the week of shows. Also gained performers the week of shows.

LAUREN: There was the one time I was an understudy, and I actually ran the show, I saw the night before, and then I was just in it the next day.

MOLLY: Yes. Yup. Yup. I remember that. It worked well. I think that’s also something of like, you know the modalities that we use, and the tools, so you can hop in.

LAUREN: And something I've been personally working on is creating silly endings to things that I stress out about like, you know what's the worst thing that could happen? And instead of going to that place of all this stress going to be created, and then we'll have conflict, and then people will raise their voices, to just like those totally left field, and be like well, you know, like a sinkhole is going to open up because I didn't get to rehearse in, and we’re all gonna fall in it, and that's just the way things are going to go, and then we'll have to take care of the audience; and it's going to be like one of those movies where we find some underground civilization, and just like keep going with the absurdity. So and at the end of it all, like the worst thing that can happen is not even that bad.

MOLLY: Mm hm

THOMAS: That’s a really interesting question. I feel like, I’ve always viewed Grey Box as like the, we’re gonna keep going, like… I’m trying to think of something that’s still existing, like I don’t know what’s still existing that’s a challenge. There probably is and it’s gonna smack us in the face but...and just out of nowhere but, like space was a problem, and that’s not really a problem anymore.

MOLLY: That’s been solved, yeah.

THOMAS: It’s been solved.

MOLLY: It presents a new challenge of paying rent, but at least that’s a controllable one.

THOMAS: We’ll see what scheduling is like. I feel like scheduling ahs always been the somewhat problem. We have a rehearsal on this day and two people are not coming. Or like, where are we? Which I think this space also fixes that.

LAUREN: Well, and I can like jump on the scheduling thing. When we were all in college, that one thing is that we could all say, “Yeah, I’ll show up at 11 p.m. and run the show.” Like we can do this. Absolutely. And that seemed fine. And now that all I'm doing is just one full-time job, and not a full-time class schedule, and dual enrollment, and drop... like I have more time but less energy because the one thing draws so much more of my focus, that in theory, I could meet after 3 p.m. any day of the week.

THOMAS: But kids destroy you.

LAUREN: This is. This is the truth. The man speaks the truth.

THOMAS: Oh no. Yeah that teacher thing because was hardest to be a part of Grey Box in the transition year from college into like, “Oh, I have a job.”


THOMAS: and now since that I have a job, I’m like, “Oh I totally have the structure to do a Grey Box show.” But like I was just talking to Molly earlier today, this week of New Teacher Orientation kicked my butt.


THOMAS: And I felt like I didn’t do anything but it kicked my butt.

LAUREN: Well, the, the kids went back yesterday. Not yesterday. Two days ago? And I was like, “Yeah. Okay.” And the day was great, and I was super happy with, you know, all of my groups. And they seem really, you now, still shy because it’s the first day but like, I can see like, how much they’re gonna grow this year. I went home, I layed down at 4 and then I didn't wake up until 5 the next day.

THOMAS: It did the same thing to me!

LAUREN: And that's how you know we’re back. And that’s show biz.

MOLLY: But I think this is like so many of us whether y’all are like K through 12, and then I’m in higher ed, and so much of the collective we're either in school, or on a school schedule. But I think there is a difference between being the teacher and being the student and as a student I was like, “Aw man it's going to be like so much easier when I have a real job.” It’s not. And that's so backwards.

LAUREN: Get out of my head.

MOLLY: Has there ever been a rehearsal process where you’ve been like just done and ready to tap out?


MOLLY: If you don't want to name the show, that's okay.

LAUREN: I won't name the show but the rehearsals when people are feeling insecure. I shouldn’t say that because we all always kind of feel insecure. But the rehearsals in which people are really needing approval for movement or choices they make in the show, and I'm like, “That's great.” Like if no one gets hurt, and we still get from point A to point B, like you're doing great sweetie, we don't need to stop every, you know, every rep of that part of the show and be like, “Well, I did this, is that okay?” And I’m like you're allowed to be that person. I, myself, need to learn to be patient with that kind of person.

THOMAS: But I think also that’s like when, you know, you’ve done so many Grey Box shows, that we all, I think, forget that it’s really difficult to be a new Grey Box person.

LAUREN: 100%

THOMAS: But it’s more or less like, I think it’s more that we have a very specific process that they need to jump in to. We’re all I think...mentally those people, like think that we...okay I’m gonna keep that in my brain, and not for public consumption.

MOLLY: You could put a pin in it for when we’re off the record.

THOMAS: We’ll put a pin in it for when we’re off the record.

LAUREN: Somebody write it down.

THOMAS: But we’re definitely those people that are like, “Let’s go. Just go.”

MOLLY: Right

TNOMAS: And then we’re like also not like the formal feedback people. We’re like, “You ready? Yeah. Okay. Here’s what I have. Here are my thoughts.” And then we’re like, “Cool.” And then we take those and we do something with them. And I think that’s a hard thing for a new person to jump into especially when it’s a predominantly lik veteran group of Grey Box people.

MOLLY: Yeah. I think a lot of the success early on with Grey Box, is that half the crew from Finger Painting for Grown Ups went into It's Not That Simple; half of It's Not That Simple went into whatever the next show was. Like those half and half in the ensemble of people who have experience with Grey Box and people who don’t, and I think those are the easier processes. Processes? Yeah. Where there's some leadership. Not so much in like this person's taking charge or being, forcing themselves into a position of power but like you can look around and be like, “Oh this is. This is normalized.”

LAUREN: Well, I think there’s something really freeing about just being able to go in and, I don't know. I'm, I’m the teacher that creates anarchy just a little bit each day. If like, if I'm not like being vague for the purpose of, “yes you can make your own decisions,” like am I really helping young people?

MOLLY: Specifically vague. Yes.

LAUREN: Yeah, and that's kind of us.

MOLLY: It’s my favorite.

LAUREN: Specifically vague, like we're going to create a show about this. I'm going to need you to find three lines of text.


LAUREN: And that’s it. And that might be anything. But the comfort in that is, yes, no one will tell you that you're doing… like you know, “Oh that’s a great thing you just did there.” But you’re not wrong. There's no wrong answer. The only wrong answer is like doubting yourself. So knock it off.

MOLLY: It’s a switch. Just like,

LAUREN: We’re just done. And I don't know. I can't do that in like my regular real life, but in my performer life, I'm like, “All right. Never done this before but we're going to act like I have.” Like we're just not going to stop. We're going. We’re in it.


LAUREN: And if you run into someone say thank you.

MOLLY: Say thank you.

THOMAS: Yeah. I...we kinda talked about this in my interview but I feel like Social/ Antisocial I just have like so many different feelings about. Depends on the day if I’m happy or mad about it. And I feel...I don’t...talking to you as a performer, how did you feel about the rehearsal process? It feels strange to me still.

LAUREN: I...the things that I liked about that rehearsal process and that show, were things that I like about you and Chelsea.


LAUREN: You know? It was, it was like good to check in with you each time. And we had a lot of fun and just like working through it. I, myself, had like zero connection to what we were doing and even now I look back and I'm just like, “What?” But I absolutely adore both of you and I adored that time together because it was, you know, like it was really entertaining. We had a lot of chances to just kind of get to know each other better. So that’s why I look upon that show fondly, not because of the actual like, I felt like I was starting any kind of conversation with it. And I remember that when the audience members that came out, you know, that were from my friend circles, like they really enjoy it. They were like, “Oh, I loved the music!” Or “I love the part where you hit each other with the pool noodles.” You know, so it was like very fun. I think their moments from that show that we could take and craft into like, like the young, like the youth education outreach, and that might be. That might be where that rehearsal process lives.

THOMAS: Yup. That’s, that’s where my brain is as well.

LAUREN: Team winning

MOLLY: I need your brains to like share.

LAUREN: I’m like, it’s gone now

MOLLY: Okay. Hold up.

THOMAS: So I happen... so sensing Sarah Tan who is another one of our Grey Box Collective individuals

LAUREN: Sarah Tan!

THOMAS: Oh my god it’s Sarah Tan!

MOLLY: Sarah Tan’s back in Tempe. I texted today.


MOLLY: Like are you back? Good.

THOMAS: And watching her piece and figuring out how like the Grey Box method and Theatre for Youth mesh together, like the whole time I was watching it, I was like, “Oh my god. Social/Antisocial could be a Theatre for Youth piece.” And I really want it to be, but I’m also like, “I don’t know if I wanna...I don’t know if I am prepared to do that work yet.” So might be like, larger conversations with Sarah Tan. I also love, you can just say Sarah, it has to be Sarah Tan.

MOLLY: Sarah Tan. Like Madonna, but not.

LAUREN: Don’t clip that out. Leave it.

MOLLY: Edit it in post

THOMAS: Um but I do feel that. Because I think a lot of what Social/Antisocial became was us doing play. Like it was just play the entire time.


THOMAS: And that’s when it was at its best.

LAUREN: And that was a moment when you're like, “Yeah so for a Theater for Youth, in Theater for Youth, and Theater for Youth.” And I’m like, “What are you talking about?” Cuz again, like I wasn't coming to Grey Box from the theater industry, or, you know, and it was like loosely from the dance industry, and only just started in the School of Dance. And so that kind of put me on this track of, “Okay, so this is...” like with anything, you know, we have to assume like it's taught differently to children than it is to people who have been doing it for twelve years. And so, that was, like that was really informative for me; cuz I’m just like, “Well, if you teach anything like band, it’s gonna go just fine.” But from then, I was able to like throw in theater elements to that. Like, okay we have to make this moment the most important moment. So everyone knows that like, it's new, and so like, that was really cool for me. I wish you could just sit down and like teach me everything you know about Theater for Youth, like and that could be...

THOMAS: Well, I am no way near an expert on it. But I like to think that I am. Do you...okay so I found my old notebook of what Social/Antisocial started out as…


THOMAS: Do you remember what the actual meaning was? Because the idea. Not what. No. The thing that came to you was drastically different from what I first proposed to Molly. I don’t know what it was.

MOLLY: Oh. I’m...based on your expression right now, I’m guessing I don’t.


MOLLY: Go for it.

THOMAS: And I remember very clearly writing this: I really wanted to show how people socially developed


THOMAS: from coming directly out of the womb to club culture.


LAUREN: What a journey!

THOMAS: What a journey

MOLLY: And it was supposed to be in a house

THOMAS: It was supposed to be in a house, and I wanted people to be birthed out of a balloon. I was reading through that and was like, ooo I had...thoughts for this. Oo and it is nowhere near that anymore, but I was like, god, I wanted...And I think at that point, Micah had said he wanted to do it, and I really wanted Micah to be the person who got birthed out of the balloon.

MOLLY: Aww Micah

THOMAS: And I just remember that thought of “Micah coming out of a giant balloon.”

MOLLY: I have questions. How? I don’t remember this. I remember the whole developmental theory thing cuz I geek out over developmental theory. And I remember that you wanted it to like, like the stages were going to be in separate rooms which is part of the reason we ended up in this space we’re in currently, because I was like, well, there’s a conference room, the box office space, a small room, and there’s a big room, so you could almost do all the stages. I can't believe I don't remember Micah being birthed out of a…

THOMAS: I don’t think I verbalized that to you.

MOLLY: Yeah. Okay. That’s new information. How do you? How do you?

LAUREN: Thank you past self for this information on this day in 2019.

MOLLY: How do you birth a whole human being, like a fully grown human being out of a…

LAUREN: Like a weather balloon.

MOLLY: like a weather balloon?

LAUREN: Like a lab

THOMAS: I don’t know. But I, I, in the notebook it says: birth from balloon. Which I don’t, like, maybe it was a balloon pit? Lik I don’t really remember. But it was like...

MOLLY: It was a thing.

THOMAS: What...past Thomas like right out of college was really feeling himself to go.


LAUREN: Inspiration

THOMAS: and then straight into club culture. And not a single balloon in the entirety of

LAUREN: No, there were zero balloons. Zero out of ten with balloon. No, I loved that our, that out bit that we kept hyping on that whole rehearsal process was post noodle aesthetic in a pre noodle world. And I am just sitting here, and I want to know, are we in a Noodle World yet?

THOMAS: You need to be like our historian book writer because you remember all of these things that I totally forgot about.

MOLLY: Yeah. What else do you remember?

LAUREN: I remember one day we did an obstacle course.

THOMAS: We did do an obstacle course!

LAUREN: In the grassy area between like Chelsea's house and like her neighbors.

THOMAS: Oh yeah.

LAUREN: And then people were riding by on their bikes, and we're like climbing on top of each other and stuff.

THOMAS: That was a very open rehearsal. Like full on, everyone in Tempe could see the rehearsal if they wanted to. And weren’t you allergic to grass? Wait. Are you allergic to grass?

LAUREN: Oh yeah. I am allergic to grass.

THOMAS: So you were full on, like...

LAUREN: Rolling around in the grass.

MOLLY: Oh gosh.

THOMAS: I know, definitely that thing of like, I should have been a better director and just like clock it and been like “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this.”

LAUREN: I mean, like, there's a part of me that's like, I'm a grown woman I could have just said not. But then there’s a part of me that’s ever only once in my life every told anyone “no” and

MOLLY: And it was to balloons!

LAUREN: and it was to balloons. Like, where’s the little, we need a peg board and some yarn because there must be some alien conspiracy going on here.

MOLLY: ...shit

LAUREN: I remember in It's Not That Simple there was one movement in the show that you forgot to stage me in. I was...I said a movement, but it was like a scene that you didn’t stage me in because at that time, I decided to sit down and I was kind of like behind this wall, and I started like having a snack. And then when we like, it was the week of the show, and then you see me sitting there, and I was like, well, I didn’t want to say anything. It didn’t seem like a good time.