Week One Workshare – Emma Cordray

Picture this: you’re on top of a roof with the cliffs of Vikos Gorge towering skyward behind you. It took you a few minutes to get up on this roof. The tiles aren’t secured; they’re small slate sheets laid in what appears to the outside eye to be an intricate system. This is not a system, however, with rules to which you’re privy. You’ll find out later that you shouldn’t be on this roof in the first place, that in fact the system behind the roof is very intricate and you were not at all qualified to stand on said roof, that actually only villagers with certain training are allowed to climb on the roofs and that scaling them without said training could be considered quite disrespectful. Nevertheless, whatever rules there are that exist are all but completely lost to you in your obliviousness as you crawl on all fours to the top, trying in vain to find that one tile you located earlier in rehearsal that seemed somehow more stable than the rest. You reach the top just in time to hear the performance start one hundred meters down the road in front of you, a fellow apprentice commanding her Greek text as she runs up a hill towards the audience. We’re
officially off to the races of our Week One Workshare. The week leading up to the workshare was filled with workshops and rehearsals. Little by little, we began to build what we would present to the OYL company and the villagers. We’re using Hesiod’s Theogony as our source text, so this first week was spent digging into the beginning of the text and the themes within. Our main two focuses were the act of calling upon the Greek muses for inspiration and the genealogy of the Titans. With Georgia, we worked on a portion of text introducing us as muses. We started with this in English, but soon enough it became our first portion of text that we learned and memorized in Greek. With it, we created a song and chant in the traditional style of Greek chorus work. With Leon, we each chose a titan we identified with and created text and a character from it. I had Theia, the Titan of the haze of the heavens and the brilliance of the sun. We built these portions of the performance independently in the beginning of the week and then put them together in rehearsals. From those rehearsals sprouted an exhilarating performance experience that covered the entirety of the village and ended with a Bacchic dance. We used the first part of the performance to introduce our Titans, with each of us positioned throughout the village in any nook and cranny that we could find—fountains, roofs, trees, doorways, etc. The effect for the audience was a pop-up installation-like walk through the town. As someone who is an absolute nerd for anything extending beyond the traditional theatrical experience, this was a total dream. It was magical to see the village wake up around us as each apprentice emerged first with their voice and then physically, one after another, creating a domino effect and pulling our audience from one place to another. Ending up back at the church where we started, we transformed from individual back into an ensemble as we came together to sing of the muses and summon them to inspire us. When we ended our performance and I looked around the circle, I saw twenty-one sweaty and red but beaming faces around me. In that moment, I finally felt the sense of ensemble that we searched for all week— the safety net of knowing that the group around you had your back and that they were all giving everything they possibly could. That we actually were all in this together, that our unified gasps for air exemplified this. However, this performance was meaningful for me as an individual as well. This workshare marked the first time in a long while
that I felt joy as opposed to anxiety in performing, and the beauty of being fully present in that joy overwhelmed me. And after my turn was done, as I followed my peers as their Titans through the village, I got unexpectedly emotional. I was reminded in those moments, as hokey as it sounds, of why performing is so special. Of the feeling of being fully alive—of every sensorial synapse being fired— that comes from being onstage, even if that stage just so happens to be a roof, and that roof just so happens to shift below your feet with every movement. Because that’s the beauty of theatre too—the realness of it, the risk, the idea that anything actually could happen and will.

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-Emma Cordray, 7/27

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