To me, CTP starts with a pair of scissors and clippers.
For the past few years that I have done Chalkboard Theatre Project, I radically cut my hair to drastically contrast the usual comb over. I consider this ritual as a physical expression of the CTP mentality: Trust what is unknown and unfamiliar.
Constantly we fall into these boxes when it comes to the arts. Restraints that don’t allow us to simply grow.
In a room of potential strangers, there is always the chance to try new ideas without expectations. Within minutes of starting as a director, I ask my writer and actors questions outside of the traditional small talk and focus on what they want to explore in the next 24 hours. It is in that openness the real beauty can be found (also, there is an odd sensation looking at a group of cell phone numbers and not knowing which area code belongs to who). With this exposure to one another, I have been able to find friendships that far surpass the end of the production and seek out further collaborations.
The last time I directed, I felt it was necessary to succumb to the process. I wanted everyone in the room to both speak and be heard. On the comfort of the cool vinyl floor, the actors laid on the ground and shed away the world. The music was slow paced in the darken classroom and I stood listening to the breath of our actors. Slowly unity began to be created.
The most whimsical aspect of CTP that I am drawn to is what happens outside of the rooms. Hearing actors repeating phrases of which context is unknown. Seeing from a window or balcony the blocking without understanding the motivation. Asking why a writer is looking up different breeds of cows. These single puzzle piece leaves excitement within me for what is to soon come. All the rooms created with the same foundation and set of challenges. However, the creativity of the team soon becomes entirely their own.
The format of CTP allows us as artists to try something new with every force within us. It gives permission to sheds restrictions that can often feel suffocating and look beyond our expectations of who we are.
Brian Farrell is also our champion cinematographer, at CTP, check out his reel!