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Interview with Chelsea

MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art in trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities, and the organization as a whole. I'm Molly, and you're listening to Any Other Anythings?


Welcome to Any Other Anythings? Chelsea!


CHELSEA: Hi Molly, how are you?


MOLLY: Hey, I’m doing all right. How are you?


CHELSEA: Good. I’m tired, but good.


MOLLY: Yeah, right? So, would you like to start with a bit of a check in? And a little introduction.


CHELSEA: Yeah. So I am Chelsea McCasland. I don’t even know what to say about myself right now. I'm doing good today. Chronically tired but thriving. Done work with Grey Box since, I think it was 2016? That sounds about right. I think it was that Summer we did, started working on Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice. That might have been…


MOLLY: I think it was 2017.


CHELSEA: It was ‘17, yeah. It couldn’t remember how long I had been out of ASU. So since 2017, been doing work with Grey Box. I have a degree in theater from ASU, also my secondary teaching certificate from there to teach English. I enjoy long walks on the beach the usual. How are you?


MOLLY: And what’s your sign? Like if you wanna keep going with it.


CHELSEA: I'm a cancer.


MOLLY: Oh okay.


CHELSEA: This could get emotional for no reason.


MOLLY: Excellent. Excellent. I’m doing all right. Yeah. The A/C died in the first interview that I did this afternoon, so it's getting warmer. So if I’m dripping sweat, don’t be alarmed. It’s just 87 degrees inside the house.


CHELSEA: Sending you blessings. That sounds…


MOLLY: Thank you



CHELSEA: ...Not amazing. I couldn’t do it. So thank you for not cancelling because I would have been like, I need to be somewhere else that’s cold.


MOLLY: No, we’re good, we’re good. Yeah. Would you like to start us off with a grounding activity, and/or a warm up?


CHELSEA: Mm yes. I forgot step one today. I feel like I always do that. I like read the interview questions and then realize I didn't read one. I forgot to prep one thing. It always happens.


MOLLY: All good. All good. No pressure.


CHELSEA: Trying to think of what we can do. It’s hard, it’s interesting on Zoom especially since I have a headset on because it’s like we can walk around the space but like my space is a tiny chair.


MOLLY: It’s a tiny space.


CHELSEA: Yeah, I guess we can start with us doing, on the quarantine pieces. We can just start moving our bodies from our chair, from a seated position. The new way. So just start with your fingers, little fingertip movement there. Going, circulation, throw in some wrist action, activating those muscles, need those for typing. Maybe throw some forearms in there. I don’t know how you can isolate just your forearms though without your upper arm. I’m not...there we go. It’s a little weird. So I’m just gonna throw in the rest of my arm because my forearm and my whole arm like to go together. Maybe some shoulder action.


MOLLY: This is lovely. This is definitely good for audio. Good for audio.


CHELSEA: And maybe like a little spine twist. I know my back gets really tight when I'm sitting in a chair all day working from home. Got in some really good back cracks lately.


MOLLY: Excellent.


CHELSEA: And stretch up high if you feel so inclined, or maybe you want to stretch down low. Your body, your choice. And then just wiggle it out. Just get all the wiggles out. You can tell I’ve been working with 6th graders.


MOLLY: Yes. In this house, K through 12, primarily 6th graders happens in the living room; and higher ed happens back here. So yes, there's a lot of 6th grade energy around me. So I'm very used to it at this point.


CHELSEA: Oh yeah. Chris teaches 6th grade too, doesn’t he?


MOLLY: Yes. Yeah. There are like a hundred of them. I’m exaggerating. Slightly. Like maybe 75. So, yes, familiar with that 6th grade energy.


CHELSEA: it’s the best, but it’s also like I’m having to reground myself in it.


MOLLY: Yes. Lovely. Is that our warm up and grounding or is there something else you wanna toss in with it?


CHELSEA: Yeah. Since we got a little wiggly, maybe just do a deep breath in. Hold it. And let it out. And now we are grounded. I’m here with ya.


MOLLY: Okay. Hi. So could you talk a little bit more about the roles you’ve had with Grey Box? And, I feel like you’ve had some really unique experiences with Grey Box like our one-off experiences. I think you've been involved in like all of the one-offs. So share those.


CHELSEA: Yeah. So with Grey Box, I'm mostly in the role of ensemble member, performer. In the last piece we just did online, it was a little bit director, but we were all directing together, so I'm still going to call it that ensemble role because we were generating together. Yeah, I started with Grey Box with a show called Fool Me Once, Fool me Twice, and it was kind of my first experience, too with devising, movement-based theater. I don't even think I have a word for what we are doing at the time, but I was just throwing myself in. And then I think that kind of became what I did for like the next two seasons for Grey Box because we ended up the next year bringing... or I thought we brought it back like four times? Was it four?


MOLLY: I think it was like three total? Or like three and a half because we had the original.


CHELSEA: Because there was the tiny run at that dance conference.


MOLLY: Mm hm. Yeah. Cuz it was Boulder, and then we did like a preview for Boulder which kinda felt like a whole other show. So yeah.


CHELSEA: So that was interesting too cuz that piece was... every time I did it it was with different people. Which, which is interesting to do an ensemble kind of based show but every time you do it it’s with a couple people stay the same, and a couple of people transition in, now it’s interesting.


I’ve worked on some of our smaller pieces that we've done. So like our little nuggets, I don’t know. What do we call it?


MOLLY: Like a phase one is language we have used for it. Sure. Little nuggets. That’s fun.


CHELSEA: So I did a little dance party piece with Thomas. And then I was going to direct and then life got crazy with a job that, as it does with artists, sometimes we get thrown into jobs that take away what we're trying to do is artists. And cuz we have to decide between money, and passions, and all that nonsense. But it was fun, though, to do the beginning of kind of that directing process to see what that looked like, and get to talk with the other people who did go on to direct full pieces. And then, I also worked on, we did our first digital performance, is most recently in May. So that was all on Zoom. Yeah. That was definitely a unique experience. That was a lot of fun. But definitely a lot. I think everything I’ve done has been monumentally different than like the thing next to it.


MOLLY: Yeah, because you've done, you did like the immersive thing, we went to Boulder, we did a conference, our only parking lot piece that we, we've ever done, you were in it, and then online.


CHELSEA: Yeah, Boulder was, Boulder was a lot of fun. That's something I would, if, obviously we’re in a pandemic right now, but eventually we’ll get to go outside again, and enjoy the lovely other 49 states. So hopefully we get to, and the rest of the world; so hopefully we get to go out and do more things outside of Arizona. Cuz, I think what I liked most about that was, it was a Fringe Festival so it was supposed to be some of the most experimental stuff from around the US, like the fringe-iest. And people were telling us about our piece, like, “I’ve seen nothing like it before.” It was definitely unique. So to be told that at a Fringe Festival actually felt really good. It was definitely an interesting experience because that’s where you see that no one is doing, I think, what Grey Box is doing which is really exciting, and makes you wanna show it in more places.


MOLLY: Yeah, definitely. I think that’s one thing I find really exciting about gong virtual and being in such this, yes weird pandemic, there's a lot of horrible things happening in the world. On the flip side of that it’s incredible the kind of reach that can happen now, and the connections that can happen across the country, across the world. And so hopefully, we get to cross paths with fringe-ier people again. Yeah. Yes. Will you share some of the audience stories from that? Cuz I think that had some of the best audiences was the French Festival, or that show in general. There’s a lot of moments.


CHELSEA: Yeah. There was, that was the one piece where we definitely had more, I think, audience interaction than any other piece probably. Yeah, I remember we needed like, we were blowing up condom balloons cuz Grey Box. And one burst but I could not for the life of me find another wrapped condom on stage, and we had so many, so the fact that I could not find one is just ridiculous. So I called out to the audience, and of course, this woman from another show pulls one out, hands it to me, and makes a joke about how it’s ribbed. So that was fun.


A gentleman stole my lipstick. I still always wonder about that when we were in Phoenix. Cuz we gave them...


MOLLY: Yeah, I forgot about that.


CHELSEA: Yeah, we gave make up to people coming in, and I was going around, and Iike, I knew who had it. I was like, “Do you have my lipstick?” And just like, he wouldn't look me in the eye. Like, he straight up refused.


MOLLY: Like pocketed it?


CHELSEA: I was like, you know, live your truth, maybe you need that. That’s your business. There was a cat that came into our audience in Boulder. That was fun. I don't know. There's also something different there about...because we were also in a church basement doing a show about shame culture which was really interesting.


MOLLY: Yeah. You wanna talk more about Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice? I guess any iteration of it, or if it's helpful you can come chronological or whatever.


CHELSEA: Yeah. Just kind of what it was about or?


MOLLY: Yeah.


CHELSEA: Even though I’m like, do we still...Like that show I wanna keep exploring it with a whole different crowd of people.


MOLLY: Right?


CHELSEA: Maybe even online.


MOLLY: There we go. I like that.


CHELSEA: Yeah, so the run we took to, the run that we did the first run, and then the one we took the Boulder cuz that had a portion, at least, of that first team. So it’s our first all-female identifying performer, performance; and we're exploring shame culture, and also like things that are taboo for women to do. And it was rooted in Brene Brown's work which, on vulnerability, which I think is really kinda...It’s really telling how I think, how great that was in the moment cuz Brene Brown is a huge name now. Brene Brown is on Netflix. Like I’ve watched so many movies where they reference Brene Brown and allude to vulnerability. So it’s exciting that we were kinda exploring and grounding ourselves in that work before it kind of took off. And I love that her stuff is very accessible, and that she's kind of a household name, which is really awesome.


I think that show was also interesting because it felt like a lot of different vignettes. There were comedic moments but a lot of the comedy was rooted in kind of this, I don’t know if darkness is the right way but definitely, it’s definitely dark humor which I can appreciate. And then there would be moments when it got very real and very intense, and then the next thing you know we're stuffing a shirt full of balloons to make it look like someone has a big bumm and big boobs. So, lots of different things happening. That's definitely a piece I've been in where the tone was definitely not... it was a way... it was up and down the whole time. The tone shifted and was like... probably for some people I think even mentioned almost jarring because we would just be in like one very deep place, and then whoop we get out of there. But I think that's really related to the human spirit cuz that happens all the time. You’ll be in one place and suddenly it’s like, “Okay, I need to go out, and maybe a different person today.”


MOLLY: Yeah


CHELSEA: I need to be worker Chelsea today.


MOLLY: Right. I think I remember that coming up in some audience feedback around like you find yourself laughing at something, and then we would just pull a 180 on that story, and you wouldn't feel so uncomfortable laughing because we did it so quickly. There was wasn't even like so much of a swing from one extreme to another. It was a bit of a flip. And I've also been thinking about that creative process because we created that in my living room. And now like, everyone's like, “Oh we're creating in our living rooms.” And it’s like, we did it before, and we took that piece to Boulder, and we did win Most Relevant Theater Performance or something like that. I don't know. We were very relevant two years ago.


CHELSEA: Two years ago. We’re still on it. We’re still relevant.


MOLLY: Yeah. Yeah.


CHELSEA: When you mentioned the emotional switch and kind of the laughing and feeling uncomfortable, I remember it was really fun in Boulder cuz a couple of us had gone to eat for lunch, and there was a bartender there, and we told him, we were talking him and trying to...like you need to come to the show. It's super interesting but check it out if you haven't seen Fringe Theatre you should come. And he actually showed up that night and afterwards like, and I think it’s so nice whenever someone comes to your performance when you invite them. So we’re like, “Oh like. You know, like you can come grab…” We’re like talking and he’s like, “I don't want this to sound weird after watching that show. Um I don’t want you to be insulted. Did you guys wanna maybe go get like a beverage with me. I don't. I'm not, I'm not like coming..” He was just being so defensive and on edge, like, “It’s cool man, like”


MOLLY: Yeah.


CHELSEA: He was so affected by the experience which was a little bit fun to watch, if I’m being completely honest.


MOLLY: Yeah and I think there's something that ties back into that vulnerability. Like yes with the content of the show but I think, I think it was the first iteration that in our debrief, it came up that like b