This year’s Writer/Director Lab reading series kicks off on April 18th with Where Have You Gone by Jacob Perkins and directed by Jaki Bradley. Here’s an interview with Jaki for a bit of context about Jacob’s play and her experience in the Lab.
1. Briefly tell us about the play you are directing for The Lab.
JB: Where Have You Gone is a stunning, madcap play by Jacob Perkins about the chasm between where you grew up and who you are now. It’s also about reconciling a fundamental question – ‘What makes me worthy of love? And who decides that?’- and the cycles of self-harm we inflict in pursuit of that reconciliation.
2. Who – or what – are the greatest influences on your directing?
JB: My biggest inspirations are those moments when a piece of art transcends its form — I’m thinking immediately about the set falling in An Octoroon, or the last page of Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan novels, or the Sacrificial Dance in Pina Bausch’s Rite of Spring. I hope to be directing toward that kind of alive, kinetic, immediate work.
In terms of individuals, I’m very grateful for Jim Houghton for his ability to rally people around improbable ideas, Leigh Silverman for explaining to me what life as a director looks like, and Sarah Benson, Lear de Bessonet and Ivo van Hove for creating the most of the above-described-moments I’ve seen.
3. What part of the Writer/Director Lab process was the most instructive and entertaining?
JB: The most entertaining moment was easily when Tony got accidentally wedged into a bathroom-stall sex scene with actors during the Director’s Projects’. And the most instructive moment is too hard to choose, since the Lab is basically an extended artistic conversation with very brilliant people.
4. How have your dramaturgical skills developed over the course of the past nine months?
JB: The most valuable thing about the Lab for a director is the opportunity to essentially be in a writer’s group. As directors, we’re so used to coming into the process at a specific point, and with specific access to the ideas driving the play. But in the Lab, you’re watching playwrights turn ideas into exercises into outlines into sample pages into entire beautiful plays. It’s also particularly interesting to watch four very different writers go through that process simultaneously, and to be a part of their conversations with directors. Directors never get to hear other directors talk with playwrights, and that sanctioned eavesdropping is invaluable.
5. The Lab has produced some pretty great plays. Looking over them, do any stand out to you and why do you pick those particular plays?
JB: TAKARAZUKA! by Susan Soon Hee Stanton, Marie Antoinette by David Adjmi, In the Labyrinth by Dan LeFranc, Creature by Heidi Schreck – so many terrific plays. I also want to read all of the ones I haven’t — when is an anthology coming out?!