NET/TEN Shareback: Radical Evolution & El Teatro Campesino - 5 Things To Consider When You’re Hosting

2015-16 Exchange Grant Recipient

Radical Evolution (Brooklyn, NY) hosted El Teatro Campesino (San Juan Bautista, CA) for a 10-day residency in Brooklyn, NY. Together they continued to develop a joint project around the story of Los San Patricios, and learned about creating multi-cultural, devised performance aesthetics within New York City’s vast theatrical field.

SHAREBACK:

For our NET Exchange Grant, Radical Evolution hosted ensemble members from El Teatro Campesino, our friends and creative partners, for a week long residency in New York City to continue working on a new performance piece inspired by the legend and history of Los San Patricios. This has been an exciting collaboration as we continue to create our production together.  While we share similar artistic passions and interests, we operate in very different environments - El Teatro Campesino is located in rural Northern California in a small town called San Juan Bautista (approx. population 2,000) and Radical Evolution lives and works in New York City (approx. population 8,500,000). As you can imagine, the differences are clear.  As a grassroots ensemble hosting another ensemble from out of town, we learned a lot about what to think through and how to be sure our guests had the best experience. We thought it would be valuable for other ensembles to know what worked best for us during this exchange.

- Radical Evolution

5 Things To Consider When You’re Hosting

  1. Geography Matters - In a city as large at New York, which is several times the size of most cities, not to mention the small town from where our collaborators came, we sought out and found housing that was as close as possible to our own apartment. This allowed us to conveniently walk back and forth to their home, ride the subway to and from most activities together, and had the added bonus of giving our guests a feel for the neighborhood we call home. Rather than prioritizing proximity to rehearsal space or another location that is more “centralized”, the focus on proximity to us was key. It also had the added bonus of allowing us to find much more spacious accommodations than those in Manhattan.
     
  2. Hire Someone to Help! (even if it’s a friend) - Thanks to NET funds, we were able to hire a project-based company manager for our out-of-town guests, who was able to coordinate flights, search for housing based on the criteria we provided, arrange travel to/from the airport, coordinate group tickets and meals for all out of rehearsal activities, and be available to our guests for questions and other coordination as needed. The person we hired was a colleague and fellow theater maker, dancer and social justice practitioner, who eventually ended up participating in the workshop itself as a performer! We didn’t need someone with company management experience for this position - just someone who was smart, organized and a good communicator. Although the workload for this position was not extremely large or complex, having an outside eye on these details while we were swimming around in the big ideas of the project was invaluable.
     
  3. Routine is Key - We had the good fortune, for the majority of our workshop process, to have access to the same rehearsal room. For anyone who makes work in large urban settings, you know how challenging it can be to find consistent, reliable space. This became particularly important because of the musical component of our project, which involved several small instruments, multiple guitars, and at least one drum. We did have one day in which we had to switch to an alternate rehearsal space in a different part of the city, and the effort of breaking down our setup, transporting it via subway and cab, and getting to rehearsal on time, proved somewhat draining for all involved. Additionally, it became clear that establishing a routine for our guests was immensely helpful to them as they learned the ropes of getting around, scheduling and planning for their lives and work for the remainder of the week.
     
  4. Plan for some time away from theatre and theatre-related activities - We wanted to be sure that our guests who had not visited the city before had a bit of time to see the sights. Though these activities weren’t directly related to our work, they gave us all some time to decompress together and enjoy each other’s company socially. Even though we stayed away from the more time intensive and crowded tourist destinations like Times Square and the Statue of Liberty, we were able to do some iconic New York things, like walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and go to our favorite New York pizza place. Because these were our favorite activities, the personal nature of our exploration of NYC with our guests became an even more meaningful experience.
     
  5. Take time to review each other’s way of working - Though we had collaborated with our guests before on our first exchange in San Juan Bautista, we thought it was important to spend some time with each others’ working methodologies prior to diving into rehearsals for our project. While this was partially because we had some new Radical Evolution collaborators in the room with us, it was also really beneficial for us to have the opportunity to refresh our familiarity with the Teatro Campesino aesthetic. Additionally, we were able to take the time to introduce and show some examples of Radical Evolution’s process in the rehearsal room - something we had not had a chance to do previously. This represented our entire first “rehearsal” day together, and was incredibly useful at bringing us all together on the same page as we dove into the subject matter of the piece. Even more importantly, the intentional exploration and appreciation of the differences between our two ensembles served to further strengthen the foundation of our collaboration in an honest and forthright way.

 

It was so gratifying to be able to share our process and lives in NYC with our collaborators from El Teatro Campesino. Thanks to NET, we were able to have a robust and fully supported creative process around The San Patricios Project, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration and bringing this project to fruition very soon.

PHOTO DOCUMENTATION:

        

Posted by: 
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Add your voice

Site design by Design for Social Impact