“My sea-gown scarf'd about me”
We caught up with our Artistic Director, Ava Roy, to talk about memories of past work and about Undiscovered Country!
What was your first show with We?
My first show with We Players was Romeo and Juliet in spring 2000. I was a freshman in college and had just turned 20. The performance blasted off in the student union/ cafeteria at high noon with the Montague and Capulet brawl. The audience doubled in size over the course of the performance, as passersby joined the procession and became audience members. We traveled through the campus, using archways, corridors, and other impressive architectural features of the Stanford campus as our backdrop.
Romeo and Juliet were married in the center of "The Quad" and ultimately were bound to the Burghers of Calais Rodin sculptures with red ribbons as their tomb. I played Juliet. And directed. And made all the costumes. And so on. This was the beginning of We Players and the earliest stages of development of our company philosophy, methodology, and aesthetic!
Four words to describe working with We?
Visceral, demanding, sensational, surprising
Describe a favorite memory working with We.
A favorite memory?! There are too many!
Here are a few...waiting backstage as Viola at the top of 12th Night. My backstage was a little rowboat, tied up to the schooner Alma. I'd drink tea and huddle in blankets while Captain Tom waited for the walkie-talkie to cue us to row to shore. One day my dad was on the boat with me. That was especially precious. Or maybe waiting backstage as Ondine on the edge of the cliff at Land's End and observing two baby seagulls hatch and fledge over the course of the run. Or perhaps climbing to the top of Angel Island with my brother and listening to the sounds of The Odyssey waft up from around the island and watching the audience procession wind along the perimeter road. Or maybe all the many times and places I've spied on the audience from hidden locations on Alcatraz, and from the tall grasses on the Albany Bulb, or lying on my belly on the balconies at Montalvo or... every site has its secret nooks and unique vantages.
What is your favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country?
My favorite thing about working on Undiscovered Country thus far has been the celerity and ease with which the script has emerged. I am writing it, but it feels more like it is writing itself and I am playing a supporting role. It has felt very organic and surprising from the first draft to the current (fifth ?) draft. My #1 favorite thing is working with this group of collaborators - thoughtful, dedicated, kind, communicative, sincere, and very talented artists one and all.
What has been surprising about the process?
How much I am appreciating the anomaly of walls, electricity, and plumbing!
Most We Players' performance venues are physically demanding and intense. This is part of the power of these sites, that they ask performers and audience alike to lean into the difficulty of wind and weather, to navigate hills and uneven terrain, and awaken their senses and enjoy heightened awareness. So it's come as a surprise how lovely it is for this rare bird of a show to occur indoors (albeit in a beautiful historic building with its own character and unique qualities), with heat, electricity and a bathroom less than a half mile hike away! Who knew how nice that could be?!
Don’t miss Ava in Undiscovered Country. Only three chances left!
Photo by Lauren Matley