There was a play by a Canadian playwright for each of us.
We introduced ourselves in ones and twos and threes, and Tarragon Theatre’s rehearsal rooms embraced us all.
We arrayed ourselves to make a loose map of the world, standing in proximity with each other and far apart, representing from whence we’d come. Then we crossed to the farthest-flung place we’d worked, and then to our dream of working, going from a big crowd in “Toronto” and a few in “London” to one in “Latvia” and another in “Japan” and a big crowd in “New York.”
We stood in two lines, facing each other as Elif read off a series of statements, “I live in Toronto” or “I’ve lived in New York” or “I’m pregnant” to “I’ve recently suffered heartbreak” and “I speak four languages” and “I direct opera” and “I sing opera.” At each true statement, we crossed to the other line, some of us going back and forth and back and forth, others moving only sporadically, another kind of map of our individuality and commonalities.
We sat in a big circle and played show-and-tell. We’d each been asked to bring one thing that metaphorically summed us up as theater practitioners. Each “one thing” gave a snapshot into our psyches and experience.
One woman showed a tiny antique compass on a chain around her neck and told about being given it when she sought her artistic feet, and how it broke just at the time she’d found her own sense of direction.
Another showed a very holey pair of cutoff gray sweatpants. There was a stack of postcards and a silver ring bought at Woolworth’s in the early part of the last century for 10¢ and a photo of a woman wearing a very large snake.
There were two cameras (one old SLR with black-and-white film), a watch, an absent watch, and a car with more than 300,000 miles on it.
There was a dreamcatcher.
And then, we began in earnest.