Interview with director Anne Kauffman
Walter Bilderback: It's great to have you back at the Wilma. You've been busy since you were here last, and have been gathering great reviews for your work. You're working with Mimi Lien, who designed Becky Shaw, again on the set design: what challenges did Body Awareness pose design-wise? What does Mimi bring to the table?
Anne Kauffman: I'm THRILLED to be back at the Wilma again and so happy that Mimi is once again collaborating with me. I love working with Mimi because she and I are both interested in theatricalizing, or perhaps abstracting realism. We had a very interesting process on Body Awareness. Since the playwright tells us in the script that all three spaces exist simultaneously, Mimi and I asked ourselves "why" and "what does it mean?" We went through a couple of ideas where we threw out the directive from the playwright, and then found our way back to it. We discovered as we started to dig in that as the play progresses, the characters are like bees bringing experience and knowledge from one space, and sort of pollinating another...so as we watch them traverse and live in each location, we watch them bring work home to the kitchen, or the bedroom, and conversely what happens in the bedroom, makes its way back to work, etc. We both really liked the fluidity of it and the exposure of it. And, that informed the way we went about creating it. Mimi also brought this incredible artist to the table Andrea Zittel. We were inspired by her eco-living designs, and it underscored the political and social intentions of this piece (Image below). We also liked how she combines various living spaces into one compact unit. A practical challenge is what to do with the other spaces while one is in play. How do we keep these adjacent locations live when there's nothing happening there? That started to inform how we began talking about scene changes, continuous life of the characters, lighting and costumes. We're relying on rehearsals to create this continuous action/life and how to treat the jump-cuts from one scene to another.
WB: It seems like you've got project after project lined up: what's next on your schedule?
AK: I'm very excited to be mounting a Civilians project I've been working on for a while called You Better Sit Down: tales from my parents' divorce. The Civilians is an interview-based theater company who does investigations into contemporary life. The four actor/writers on this show interviewed their parents about their divorces and then play their parents in this piece. It's surprisingly hilarious and very smart. That goes up in April in New York. Then I'm very much looking forward to directing a piece by an amazing young writer named Greg Pierce. I'll be directing his play Slowgirl at LCT3 in May. His show will inaugurate the new LCT3 space which resides on top of Lincoln Center.
Photos: Anne Kauffman, Andrea Zittel's 1994 Living Unit