MOLLY: Hello all and welcome to Any Other Anythings – a podcast that talks about all the creativity, work, and randomness that happens in an ensemble-base performance collective. I'm your host Molly W. Schenck and founder of Grey Box Collective.
This week we have Lauren joining us, and Lauren has been with Grey Box Collective since before we were Grey Box Collective, and has been a part of, I think, every single new work, piece that we've developed ever. So I'm really excited. And we'll start with check-ins. So, Lauren, how are you? What have you been up to?
LAUREN: My name is Lauren Scott. I’m doing really well. I’m excited to be joining for the podcast series which is new and exciting and I’m so, so enamored of the title. At work, we’ve just been busy with back-to-school stuff and getting the year started for, what seems to be a really wonderful group of kiddos. So that’s been really energizing. Lots of good vibes all around. How are you doing? What are you thinking about?
MOLLY: Doing all right. I’m Molly and my preferred pronouns are she/her/hers. It's been an energizing week. Lots of really great conversations in a variety of rounds. And I also have… I went for a run this morning, ‘cause I was like vibing on all the good energy from the week, or all the energizing energy from the week. So I went for a run without any pain in any joints which is like huge. I haven’t done that in like a year.
LAUREN: That’s a big deal.
MOLLY: Yeah. It is, it’s exciting.Everything’s exciting right now. So, can you give a little, I said that you’ve been around since before we were a thing. But do you want to talk about, a little bit about like the past five years of… no pressure. Past five years of like the different roles you’ve been in, different shows, maybe just a little more introduction.
LAUREN: All right. So I didn’t start in any sort of theater or dance capacity. I was just a marching band kid that rolled into the School of Dance one day, and one of my friends was like, “Hey, they’re doing auditions for shows. You should check it out.” And I was thinking like, “Oh, that’ll be fun. I’ll just go and I’ll exercise for a bit, and it’ll be really neat, and then I'll go home and never touch it again.” And that’s when I got cast as Eliza in Finger Painting for Grown-Ups which is still very near and dear to my heart. And still to this day, I feel personally attacked by the whole show, just about being overly busy, and the super high-functioning like depressive states of like the working class and to really making time to calm down, maybe, and do something fun. Which is something I still try to do. Not saying I’m great at it but I’m working on it.
MOLLY: That counts.
LAUREN: And then after that, in the academic year at Arizona State University, I believe you were working on Compartmentalized.
MOLLY: Oh wow. Mm hm.
LAUREN: Yeah. Which was like a really short stint. Because if you’re gonna think outside of the box, first start, with a box.
LAURENt: And then after that, what was it, the fifth iteration? The third?
MOLLY: Of It’s Not That Simple?
LAUREN: Of It’s Not That Simple.
MOLLY: It was the third.
LAUREN: Yeah, and that was a very long practice that was, what, nine months?
MOLLY: Yup. We gave birth to it.
LAUREN: Yeah. Oh man. And you know, that was a production that is still very near and dear to my heart. But I'm okay with not picking that one up again any time soon.
MOLLY: So then in… so we’re in 2016 then with It’s Not That Simple. So then 2017, was when we brought in the New Director Series and so it was Understanding Otherness, Out of Hiding, Social/Antisocial, and Fool me Once, Fool me Twice. That was a busy... That was in four months too. That was January through April I think.
LAUREN: How, how much I’ve idealized the demand of time now that we’re beyond that year. Where I’m just like, “Oh yeah, this was really pleasant and I got to move with some of my favorite people.” I remember having rehearsals with Thomas and Chelsea, and I was like, “This is so nice and wonderful. I miss it.” And now realizing that, wait, no there had to have been at least like 30 hours that went into that.
MOLLY: Oh definitely, definitely. And then, let’s see, and then so you’ve always been in this like performer mode, this creative mode for Grey Box, obviously the creatives thing. But it’s always performer until this past year, well, last year, you were an understudy for It’s Not That Simple. Yeah? Is that last year
MOLLY: And then this year, you stepped into more the design role with Tangled Mess. Wanna talk a little bit about that?
LAUREN: I’d love to. I felt really... I don’t wanna keep using the word “energized” all through this event
MOLLY: It’s like the word of the day.
LAUREN: Yeah it's kind of the word of the day. So it was really energizing to be a part of that design process, and it was during a time where I really needed to find a reason to force myself to make and create, ‘cuz I was falling into a little bit of a rut. It was a lot of fun. I wildly underestimated the sheer amount of time that it would take to generate, you know, stage, props, and backdrops, and we manipulated fabric in that show, and having to dye things, and Mod Podge everywhere. So I definitely should have asked for some helpers sooner because I remember... I distinctly remember that week of, “Okay well we got to get the boxes, and the jars, on the lights, and the fabrics, and balloons, and the this, and the that.” I was like, “Cool...we’re going” and because I am the way I am, I happened to like wait until it was also like my busy time at work as well. So we just had so much going on that week. But nothing a little like throwing Ratatouille on the TV and like just painting up a storm couldn’t fix.
MOLLY: Nice. Nice. I think my favorite part about that process was...okay, so there was that video that I sent you of the runway. The model’s walking down, I think it was a wedding gown. It had to be a wedding gown, and the veil was all like attached to helium-filled balloons so it floated behind the person walking; and I sent it to you and I was like, “What about something like this?” And you were like, “No.” And I was like, “Yeah but like what if I'm in charge of the balloons?” and then you're like, “Okay.” But that was like the tipping point of like I had to be in charge of helium balloons. Which like, after a weekend of being in-charge of helium balloons, like, well played.
LAUREN: I'm going to just go ahead and pat myself on the back right now. Thank you past me for saying no for once in my life. I don't know what that's about but I'll take it.
MOLLY: It happened.
LAUREN: Dear diary, at one point, I did say no.
MOLLY: Yes. So you’ve really been a part of the evolution of Grey Box and kind of the evolution of me figuring it out along the way, and then a huge part of it.
MOLLY: Well, thank you. So could you talk about the creative process when we first began and how it has changed or what stayed the same?
LAUREN: Well, there’s always been so many index cards. I don't know what to do with myself. As I think about...in the early stages of Grey Box, we were doing a lot of work that kind of been shelled out from previous works like Finger Painting, It’s Not That Simple, even Compartmentalized, which is like pre-Grey Box. We knew what direction we were going to end up in, or as I would say, now we kind of find out how it ends when we get to the end ourselves. It’s kind of nice in a way because it’s very much about the journey, the end goal finer than the prize because you got there.
When it started, it was a lot of like okay, we might have gotten a physical script to start with after all of our ensemble building, and our conditioning. Whereas now, we’re creating the script along the way and in smaller pieces of text whether it be like an excerpt from an article on the internet, or something out of a physical book, or another podcast, or interview with someone. Just kind of collecting all of these little treasures along like a magpie, and storing them away for later and then trying to organize them into like, “Well, this fits with that, and this fits with that, and now we have this wonderful piece of art.” That’s going to grow and shape over the years to come when another team comes in and picks up something that we created new in 2016 or 2017. And like, it'll be interesting to see what it looks like later on down the road.
MOLLY: Yeah, totally, totally. There's a real, I think, I don't know when it happened maybe it was around like the 2017 when we pushed out four shows in four months of…
LAUREN: I’m exhausted just hearing you say that.
MOLLY: I know.
LAUREN: Who were we?
MOLLY: I don’t know but probably not healthy humans at that point which, put a pin in it, I’d like to come back to that – healthy human beings. But I think there was something around like 2017, 2018, this like, we need to trust this process. Like, I think it had always been there as some kind of thing but it's like we finally were okay saying like, “Well, if the process works, like it’s gonna be just fine.” And it felt like it maybe freed us up a little bit.
Okay. I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this. Finger Painting for Grown-Ups, so that is something that I wrote. I don't remember writing it. It was like channeled. Not like I was drunk, it was just channeled, just to clarify. And I wrote that in like 2008/2009 and then I happened to pick it up in like 2014 and I felt like I had written it for my future self.
MOLLY: Oof, right? And someday I’m gonna figure out how to write that into the actual show. But I think it's something like it's very cyclical of just like the busy culture, and taking care of ourselves, and it's almost like that is now embedded in our process of we need to take care of ourselves, and not do four shows in four months ever again.
LAUREN: But hear me out, hear me out. We’ll end up doing it again and it’ll sound like a really great idea.
MOLLY: It will. It will. Always. They always sound like good ideas. So do you have a favorite show?
LAUREN: Oh man.
MOLLY: Or like top three, top three favorite moments?
LAUREN: Oh man. Okay, favorite moments I can do. Also, pin in this when we’re done with this podcast here – have ideas on how to put your writing for your future self in Finger Painting but we won’t drag everyone else along for that run.
Top three moments. Finger Painting for Grown-Ups when Eliza finally gets it in her head that she can play and have fun, things are good; playing tag with the rest of the cast like not because it was a pivotal moment in the show, but that’s also like something, we had all the right people and it was always like that really genuine fun moment. Like, my character was having fun but I was also having fun, and that was really nice, and that came at a time where I needed that
I would have to say, in the very original iteration of Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice, it was just that duet with Anya.
MOLLY: Oh wow.
LAUREN: Yeah, which was “I am enough.”
MOLLY: Yes. It got renamed.
LAUREN: And I absolutely adored our costuming for that.
MOLLY: Would you like to tell what the…
LAUREN: Oh yeah, we’re going. So you had made us these zipper, it was like a rib cage with an orange and yellow sheer fabric that wrapped around. And then we had these like really just boisterous like tutus that went around it, and then underneath it all, is of course the parts that were coming off for the show because it wouldn’t be a Grey Box show. We had these, like Cabbage Patch doll, like, tan onesies that had body parts and skeletal structures charcoaled on them. And then at different points in the show, the audience members would just like put stickers for phrases and affirmations, like right on you and it didn’t seem like it was intrusive at all. Oh man. Such a, such a wild time.
MOLLY: So those like Cabbage Patch, those like tan, nude onesies were painted in ink and I still have picture of like, I set it up in my bath because I didn’t want to get ink anywhere. So it’s just like the onesies hanging from the shower head. And like the giant jar of paint, of ink. Yeah. It’s...that’s how it went down.
LAUREN: I love it. I love it. And then one of my like third big moment was from Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice like the first round of it being called that. It was Toby and Chelsea’s little back and forth banter like in the club and at, you know, it’s like, “Okay, hold my drink. “No, hold my drinks.” “No, okay, hold your drinks.” “Okay, no, no hold my boobs and I’ll hold the drinks.” And at one point, Chelsea, like, climbs down and starts helping Toby with something under her skirt and she's like, “Oh my gosh. What is that?” And Toby just announces to the whole audience, “Ding dong. It’s a doorbell.” And, oh man. It took me so much, just, focus to not erupt and start laugh crying at how funny I thought that was. Every single time, every single rehearsal it still got me like thinking about it now, it still gets me. So…
MOLLY: Yes, and that stayed with the show in the other two iterations or like micro-itierations, kind of, that format of like “hold my drink” and then just, the one-upmanship of like, yeah, it went places that we did not stage. But yes, of like the, I think it was like fixing the tampon or something. Yeah, it was great. I enjoyed that shit. That was fun.
LAUREN: That was fun.
MOLLY: All right. You ready for some rapid fire questions? That aren't like that rapid fire, like yeah.
LAUREN: All right. Hit me with those rapid fire questions.
MOLLY: Yes, okay. What is your favorite prop that you have worked with in a Grey Box show and why?
LAUREN: Favorite prop has to be the cage light with the really long cord and then we would swing this thing dangerously, and I’m pretty sure it was ready to short out at any moment. But the shadow effect that it created was so cool, it was worth the risk of possible electrocution.
MOLLY: Excellent. Excellent. I feel like this is going to come up in every episode of like, we need better insurance. Next, what's your favorite artistic risk that you have taken with Grey Box Collective?
LAUREN: Favorite artistic risk? I, and I’m going to keep going back to Finger Painting – definitely the anxiety attack on stage. And even though it was definitely from a place of like safety in the context of the show, and like the character wasn’t in any danger, I, myself, wasn’t in any danger, but that seemed just a bit too real because at that really early in my theatrical training, I was like, “Well, what does this look like in real life? We’re just going to go for it.” And didn’t really know how to set that boundary between myself and, you know, that moment. So we got to the performance and my sweet, dear, dear, gentle parents, they’re watching and we had a show on my birthday that year, so they came to my birthday show. We get to that part, and my sweet, gentle father was ready to stand up and stop the whole thing because he just didn't know the difference between like, “No, I'm fine right now.” And he’s like, “This isn’t okay.” So thankfully he didn't, I’m really proud of him, way to go Dad, but definitely like, looking back at it now, it was like, “Well, I put the whole audience in that position.” Like you have to think like all these shows and stuff like, “What would you do?” and we’re a little bit more programmed to reach out and help others. So it’s like, I don’t know if that would fly in 2019.
MOLLY: Yeah. One way to find out. All right, what is the weirdest thing you've had to Google for show related research or what's the weirdest, like, rabbit hole you've gone down on the internet inspired by Grey Box Collective’s rehearsal process?
LAUREN: The weirdest rabbit hole, and it was something I was aware of before, but it was just having to listen to that song Blurred Lines, like every single day. A few times a day, in the car, walking to class, and just every moment of my day was just listening to this song, and trying to transcribe all the different rhythms, and back beats, and stuff like that in there. And then it turned into me doing that thing that I do all the time where I start rewriting the lyrics. And then from there having to Google like, “Okay, what are, what are some rape-y songs for It’s Not That Simple that we could put in our game? Like is it a song lyric or something a rapist said?”
MOLLY: Mm hm. Yeah. Yeah, I forgot about that too. This is like the lovely wander down memory lane. In a weird way.
LAUREN: I imagine this memory lane looks kind of funky. Like it's not that idyllic green with the blue wildflowers like maybe there's just like...
MOLLY: A little Dr. Seuss. Oh what’s that Dr. Seuss thing about… and they chop down all the trees?
LAUREN: The Lorax.
MOLLy: Yeah, I feel like that might be...
MOLLY: That might be this memory lane. Is that appropriate?
LAUREN: Yeah. That’s a really big mood.
MOLLY: Okay and on that note, any other anythings?
LAUREN: Well, it’s really hot in this room. Y’all we had to turn the air conditioning off to record. I’m dying. We live in the desert. It's 108 degrees. It's not okay. But, that’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay. And 99% of your problems are ‘cuz you don't drink enough water. You know, we're basically house plants. Just need to get outside and drink some water and everything else will figure itself out.
MOLLY: Beautiful. Let’s check out. How are you doing? What are you thinking about?
LAUREN: I'm doing well. I had an absolute blast on today's episode. Thank you so much for having me out. I’m thinking about when I get to hear this later and lament how my voice sounds but I'm also looking forward to hearing everyone else’s check-in and check-out. Molly, how are you doing? What are you thinking about?
MOLLY: Doing well. This, like, brought my energy level back up. So thank you. I'm also thinking about the AC and getting ready to turn that back on. Yeah and I'm thinking about like what are all the other stories that I don't remember from the past five years and unpack why with my therapist probably.
MOLLY: All right. Cool.
LAUREN: That sounds nourishing.
MOLLY: Yes, it is. Thanks for hanging out. Appreciate it. We're going to steal it, right? With a snap or... we’ll snap at the same time.