Selena Vela: My New Theater Company

Mar 24, 2016

SITI Alum Selena Vela is starting a web-thing and she did an interview with me on it. Here are a couple of excepts:

Theatre is inherently dynamic. That’s why its ephemerality is not a bug. It’s a feature. It’s the essential feature of theater. Because theater is being created in the present moment, it’s able to deal with the moving target that is the mystery of existence. Truth is not static…
see, even that statement is self-contradicting, when you say it in words. It’s one of those ideas that cannot be expressed in language. You have to create something that embodies it.

This is part of why SITI Company isn’t interested in having one style.  We’re not interested in doing one kind of play.  We’re interested in being adaptive, which gets us into trouble because people don’t know how to identify what we do.  But this is why our attitude in training is to prepare for everything, to try to be a big pot.  In The Grapes Of Wrath, Ma Joad says to take the big pot and leave the small ones behind because “You can cook little stuff in a big kettle, but you can’t cook big stuff in a little pot.” I’ve always thought this applied to actor training.

…we’ve shifted now to a shared leadership model.  What that’s about is trying to say to the world, “We’re not a monarchy.”  And Anne is not a bad king at all, but she doesn’t want to live in a monarchy.  She wants to have a huge footprint in the room, but she wants it to be distributed, and it’s been really hard to do that because the monarchy has cache in the world. People are comfortable with it, so they see what they’re looking for.

If you came into a SITI Company rehearsal and you didn’t know who the director of the show was, you might well think it was Darren West, because often times Darren, who is the sound designer, gives more notes in rehearsal than anybody else.  Most theatre gets made by the director telling the actors what to do and then they do it.  We don’t work that way. Which isn’t to say that Anne is passive. She’s very much there and she’s critical to the process. Sometimes she tells us what to do and we do it. But it often doesn’t happen in the way that people might think.

Read the entire inverview!