On Attending Workshops

Last week a note arrived in my inbox from Nightswimming, inviting me to attend a workshop-in-progress sneak peek of Anita Majumdar’s Walk Like an Egyptian, developed by Nightswimming.

Yes. Yes I will attend.

I`ve worked with Anita before, Fish Eyes went up at Passe Muraille while I was there, and I did marketing and PR for The Misfit (fun fact: we were among the first in TO Theatre to use Facebook ads – they worked.) I love her work as an artist and I love working with her as a person. We`re on the same page.

I also love attending workshops. Real ones, I don’t mean a donor cultivation event which is really an almost ready to open rehearsal disguised as a workshop (although those are good too) I love attending the exact type of workshop I attended last night.

There is something privileged about attending a workshop. It`s by invitation. The two dozen people in the room are there specifically for a reason, they all have something to do with what is happening. There is no set, only suggestion of costumes, minimal props,  and you are seated on folding chairs in a studio under work or fluorescent lights.

It is genuinely about the work, or the snippets of the work you are about to see. That is all there is to it. As always, Anita’s work is solid, I can completely see the foundations of what will be, the choreography is great, and there is already a deeply touching moment that is hard to watch for the truth of it. I cannot wait to see it fully staged.

Workshops are necessary. And inviting people to them is crucial. You need to have an audience reaction to determine what is working, what is not, oh they laughed at that and didn’t even smile at that. And even though everyone in that room is there for a reason, everyone is trustworthy, so to speak, there is a moment of realization that you’ve been invited into the kitchen before dinner is ready, the souffle has only had half the time in the oven, and you get to see it. Raw ingredients. You get to see the experiment.

To mix a metaphor even more wildly, someone has said, “I’m going to put my heart out for you to see. Under these fluorescent lights and nothing to make it truly pretty. Here is my heart.”

It’s an honour.

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