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Interview with Lauren (2020)

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?


Lauren, welcome to Any Other Anythings? So would you like to start with a check in and introducing who you are as a human, and feel like your role, or slash roles over all of Grey Box is probably a separate question. So maybe just an intro to begin with, how are you?


LAUREN: I'm doing well, Molly, thank you for having me on Any Other Anythings? I love the title of this podcast by the way, it is very close to my heart.


MOLLY: I appreciate that.


LAUREN: I’m Lauren Scott, I am a performer, choreographer mostly. And I've been with the company since it started.


MOLLY: Yeah, you have. Since like before it started. Like…


LAUREN: Yes. So I have so many...my, my…


MOLLY: Here we go.


LAUREN: My Facebook memories from yesterday, so I get up in the morning and I'm looking through it; yesterday I don't know how many years ago, like six maybe, seven years ago, was my very first rehearsal for Finger Painting for Grown Ups.


MOLLY: Oh my goodness.


LAUREN: I was so excited, and it was just, this post full of all this youthful energy and like the excitement towards getting to work on a full scale show which was something I hadn’t really been a part of in that like capacity before.


MOLLY: Yeah and I was totally six years ago. Yeah and the rest is history. So here we are. Before we hope in any further, would you like to lead us through a grounding activity and a warm up?


LAUREN: Absolutely. Oo okay.


MOLLY: Here we go.


LAUREN: I gotta put on my best Molly voice for this one.


MOLLY: Uh oh


LAUREN: With your eyes shut, taking inventory of your breath. Finding the top of your breath where your inhale ends and your exhale begins, following that exhale all the way to the bottom of your breath where you exhale ends and your inhale begins. And if you’re not driving while listening to this, place your left hand on top of your sternum, and your right hand on top of your belly, and just follow that breath all the way to the top of your left thumb, to the very, very tip of your right pinky. And you can let those hands drop down to your sides, still feeling where they were touching on your body, and letting your eyes slightly open for a soft focus, bringing some of that light in, and then just becoming a little bit more aware of the space, taking in more of the light.


MOLLY: Thank you. Would you like to take that into a warm-up activity?


LAUREN: Um...my...it is after 3 p.m. My brain is fried on warm up activities but I would love to be one.


MOLLY: Cool.


LAUREN: I can only think of like the folding activity right now.


MOLLY: Oh, that's fun! Okay, so do you want to intro the folding activity?


LAUREN: Sure as best I can with the fried brain.


MOLLY: Yes, teacher brain.


LAUREN: So we're going to explore all the different ways we can fold our bodies. So folding the fingers over, folding the hand, and for now, let’s just start on one side. And you fold your arm, and like your whole upper body. How can you fold your toes? And your feet, and your legs?Maybe folding the like head to the shoulder. Just kind of exploring and opening up to crossing that midline, maybe folding both sides of the body.


MOLLY: I had a really good neck crack.


LAUREN: Oh man. I gotta like do both in the same way on each side otherwise I feel so weird.


MOLLY: Right? Like it’s such a dancer thing of like we have to do both sides exactly the same or we’ll feel lopsided the rest of the day. Did we do this in Understanding Otherness?


LAUREN: I think so?


MOLLY: I think that’s where this came in a lot. Thank you for bringing it back.


LAUREN: Thank you. I actually would really...I need to start writing these things down because I’m getting old and I can’t find anything on my computer anymore because it's all like an abyss of like, Google Drive and like my hard drive. But I want to do, like, what's a quick like 1 to 2 minute green zone activity with like some of my classes each day. And I’m like we can't just do nothing for 2 minutes everyday. Because they’ll get real tired of that. They’ll be like over it.


MOLLY: Yeah. So you’ve, like, set me up for a shameless plug. Are you ready for this?


LAUREN: Yes!


MOLLY: Okay. So I'm going to try to, for those listening, it doesn't work as well but you’re on camera, I can do the influencer thing...I haven’t figured out how to like, you know, like, where they like, I don’t know. Like hold up the hand behind the product? So, we will be selling a little stack of little cards that are about the size of a pack of gum. And on it, on each one, these are so out of order cuz Princeton knock them off, my cat knock them off when I was ordering them the other day. And every one is some kind of resourcing activity. There are about 40 of them.


LAUREN: Oh my gosh.


MOLLY: Resourcing activities. So you could just like take this little pack of cards out in the middle of your class, and be like okay everyone today we're going to “give yourself a hug.” Give yourself a hug which is in code with all the physical distance in right now. We also like, we can “shake it out.” “Do nothing” is totally on here too. We got some “marching in place,” get that cross lateral pattern coming in. So…


LAUREN: Molly, I have to say, it was after one of the last meetings, or I think it was after the last workshop where we did. And I was thinking like I should get some index cards and start writing these down, and then I'll have a pack. And then this came to me in like a fever dream or something as like, “I bet Molly already has this. Like ready to go that I could just order from like the Grey Box shop.”


MOLLY: Yes! Which is… and we also have this which is, they’re all about the size of business cards, and they all connected on this key ring, and these are Devising Crumbs. So taking our crumbs, nuggets, and muffins, and now you have, again, you can just pull a card and create something from it. Like, “find ways to interact with light,” or “tell a story in a made-up language”.


LAUREN: Oh man. This... honestly, like right now, the sensation of like my heart rate and my blood pressure just kind of chilling out is really, I cannot describe like what a positive thing this is.


MOLLY: I appreciate that very much. Yes. They’re in the works as in like we will go to print this weekend with them. So.


LAUREN: The love and support we need in 2020.


MOLLY: Yeah. Yes. Exactly. So...gosh. Where to go from all of that? You mentioned green zone activity and some of the workshops, so that’s unpacking the message behind the madness that you experienced for six years. I'm curious to hear like, how your lived experience, and then being that like workshop side of it has been...I don’t know, like, have things been clicking? Or I'm curious. I’m just straight up curious for any responses having been someone who really has lived it, I think, in the. the most varied of ways for the longest period of time.


LAUREN: I’m really glad that you bring that up because it's something that's been kind of on my mind the last couple weeks. Obviously, going through the process, and as someone who was originally a non-dancer, non theater person coming into this, and becoming a dancer, and becoming a theatre person. I always knew that Grey Box rehearsals were where I took the best care of myself. And what I assumed kind of overtime, “Okay we're doing these activities, maybe, so Molly can see like, how we move or like what our go to gestures were.” And I knew that they were all there to build up the ensemble trust because a lot of, like I think back to Finger Painting like a couple of them knew each other from before, and then I was like coming in brand new. But by the end, like I remember all of our warm ups and things we do before the show. And that always brings me a lot of joy. So as someone who's like lived it, I knew that there was a purpose behind everything and I knew that it was doing good. But now being able to step back having not been in the rehearsal process over the summer, and instead look at this through the workshop, and the science and the like neural programming that goes on with all of that; I just have such a overwhelming like love and respect for the work, and the research you do with your performers, and like, “Oh my gosh. That’s great. Like that is the ultimate care.”


It makes me think a lot about It’s Not That Simple, and your work with making sure that we weren't taking that trauma and that content out with us. So, yeah. There’s a lot of thoughts there, and you know I just, I support it so much. And I still can't find the vocabulary to fully express just the warm, and good that I feel, like coming from that rehearsal process. I remember going into rehearsals and just having like a totally crummy day, you know, like something awful had happened, and there's something really liberating about being able to create when you go into that space, and are really actually able to let those things go because you're so focused on like the sensation, and the content, and the other performers. It's something we talk about as performing arts people all the time. Like leave it at the door. This is your time to do the work. But I think about how many teachers don’t, or directors, don’t get you there. So I know that was like so many hours of rehearsal just kind of really checking in, grounding us down, and getting us to the spot where we could create. And you know, I think back on it so positively. You know, because I clearly need to be doing that more in my life, even outside of rehearsal.


MOLLY: I really appreciate that you, you brought up like the care, and how you could go into rehearsals having a crummy day, and I think like there’s such a self-fulfilled prophecy maybe? Or if we're doing work around rape culture, or mental health, busy culture, insert whatever tough topic you want, that, like it's going to be a really heavy rehearsal; Or that there will be like zero laughter. But there can be, there needs to be room for play. There needs to be room for, for building relationships with each other. Otherwise, what's the point? And so I'm curious if you could dig into, if you care to share, maybe some of...like were there particular structures in place? Is there a moment in rehearsal that you remember that really kind of pivoted for you?


LAUREN: I think I remember like a lot of very specific moments in rehearsal. There was one, oh gosh, this is taking it way back, I had that duet with Anya before Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice was Fool Me Once, Fool Me Twice. It was I Am Enough. And it was the duet with the text by Brene Brown, and like the runway and like the rib cage corsets, which hands down, favorite costuming of any show. A little cabbage-y patch kid, with like charcoal…


MOLLY: Yes.


LAUREN: But I remember you had us do laughter yoga, and after we've done our regular like breathing, and checking in, and our verbal work. And you’re like, we have laughter yoga, and I was like, “What?” Anya hadn’t heard of, we were just kind of sitting there in the room. And like, “Well, we’re gonna do laugh yoga.” It was something to the effect of like, Anya and I had to like touch fingers until we started laughing and...which saying out loud, seems really silly but I remember going into it with like no doubts whatsoever. I was like, “oh okay. We’ll do laughter yoga because I’m in this rehearsal space, and we already did all of the starting stuff, and like it's going to be okay.” Like I knew even though it was, maybe weird, or strange, or different that it didn't matter because I knew it was going to be all right on the other end. Like there was absolute trust in your, and like my co performer. That it was just a really delightful moment. I remember, just such a powerful connection in that part of the show because there was still that element of play, and also it was new and exciting.


MOLLY: That’s great. I love these conversations because it's bringing back like, “Oh I forgot that we did that.” It's bringing back more memories for me as well, so thank you for adding that in. And so you had mentioned… and maybe just for like context, you are an educator. So when we like, we back and forth, and I think there's a lot of parallels between holding rehearsal spaces and holding classroom spaces. So how has...how have these experiences, like what do you value in these experiences that you bring into your classroom spaces? Or rehearsal spaces because you have those as well.


LAUREN: Something I really value is taking care of the whole performer first, and whether the performer is a student who did not sign up for my class and does not care to be there; or the performer is the student who signed up for my class and has been with me for seven years of their schooling. Even if we can't agree on, you know, the work that we’re doing, the content that we’re generating, or the script that we’re reading, or the music that we’re looking at, I always want my students to know that I will protect them no matter what. And that’s not just the stuff that we go through now with practicing lockdowns and making plans to evacuate campus if someone who wants to hurt us, you know, gets there.


But also understanding like even if you go home to your family, and they don't want to hear about your day, I will always, I will always listen. Like I will always hear you out because, I mean, I think so much of the heartbreak we feel as young people in just us having an opinion on something, and feeling like nobody's going to listen to it. You know, we're growing and this world is getting crazy, and you're trying to like learn to use your words, you know, formulate thoughts outside of like what used to be you being a kid, and thinking only caring about yourself, and now you’re ready to think about other people, and you want to talk about it; and everyone else has their own idea of what that looks like already, and they don’t want to hear you and that’s not cool. So I always try to practice like extra grace and patience with my students. You know, because, at the end of the day, if they turn something in to me late, that is not the end of the world. It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things like, yes I have to give you a grade, but like more than anything else I want you to be okay. And when you're not okay, I want you to know that I will be here.


MOLLY: That’s beautiful, and I think we need more educators with that, with that lens so that learning is actually happening.


LAUREN: Thank you.


MOLLY: And so like, having to go through...it’s a rehearsal for a mass shooting. Like the trauma side of it. Like we talked about trauma a lot in rehearsal spaces and in the content of the show, having taken some time this summer to dig into the trauma-informed creative practices, I'm curious how that's been forming or shifting a lens as you reflect back on some of the trauma that you see in your classroom spaces.


LAUREN: Absolutely. The... actually something that I've been thinking more about is the last show that we closed before things were cancelled due to Covid-19. We had that little crumble series, and Crystal and I worked on a duet together with you. EMP_T_Y and it had the letters for “empathy” blocked out in there. And at the time, I was like, “Oh yeah, you know,” I remember in rehearsal we were talking about like, compassion fatigue, and social media, and being overwhelmed with that news on social media. I remember talking about it, and was like, “Oh yeah, you can just like turn off the phone.” And then in the light of this summer, the world, literally, and metaphorically, being set on fire; and there was no turning it off at all because we were in our homes, and you turn on the TV, and you know, all this news would be out there, and then you pick up your phone to try and hide from the TV, and all this news would be out there, and then you try and go outside to maybe read a book on your patio and you’ve got you roommates battling it out over whether this, or that, or the other thing was racist or not. And also like having been simmering over the frustration of like, “Oh no. We have to be considerate of our other human beings, and making sure that we're not spreading this disease or this virus.” So it was just a lot going on. And I remember, I was just sitting in my room one day, and thinking of, like the sound scape that William had created, and how they used like all of the notification noises, and then the singing. I remember like the second show, we had two little girls that hopped in, and decided that they were going to be in the performance too. And so they're playing with all these like great news paper articles about like sexual assault, and political like, what's the word I'm thinking of, like wrongness and, and, and they're just having a grand old time, and it really kind of put things into perspective for me; because people say like, “Oh all this is new.” But it’s not new, it’s been going on forever, but we owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves so we can keep fighting this. There’s people that already bowed out and have decided that they don’t care. It’s like, we need to care. And if you don't, like, do something more productive with your time than argue with strangers on social media. But just, it really reaffirmed the importance of like that slow burn commitment to this work, and to speaking out. We can't do it if we don't take care of our voices, and if we don't take care of her bodies, and out minds, and our hearts.


MOLLY: Yeah, yeah, totally. I feel like I have to confess like I've been picking fights with educators on social media.


LAUREN: Oh


MOLLY: Yup. And it goes back to like empathy and compassion, and they’re like, “This student hasn't shown up to my class for like weeks.” And it's like, “There's a pandemic.”


LAUREN: And I don't know who needs to hear this but the pandemic isn't over just because you're over it.


MOLLY: Yes, yes, exactly. So I've been picking fights with educators and I'm learning how to pick them in more persuasive ways.


LAUREN: Yeah, well, because it’s upsetting. I, one thing that I thought of was how aggressive, like pure educators were about like, have your camera on. You need to have your camera on or I think you're playing games and I'm like...