In The Presence of the Unknown – Katrina Darychuk
I am writing this on the train from Stratford to Toronto, whizzing past farmland. Three months ago I came to Stratford with my mentor and Soulpepper Associate Artistic Director Alan Dilworth to work on The Virgin Trial, premiering in few weeks. It is a sequel to Kate Hennig’s The Last Wife, which premiered at Stratford two years ago and at Soulpepper this winter.
I’ve spent most of my time as a director in new play territory. Working to give life to worlds that have yet to come to the stage. While these processes have similarities, there is a constant presence of the unknown. How do you embrace it? Dance with it? Make it a part of the piece? Working as an assistant director on a new show is fascinating as I am privy to a team in ‘reveal’ mode. Every choice in terms of action, design, or new text, reveals more of the inherent nature of the play.
Something inherent in developing new work is that you must be open to the element of surprise. Even after workshops, and readings, the life of a new play isn’t revealed until weeks into rehearsal. Just as everyone starts to think they know what it is, it wants to be something else. New plays are delicate. The creative team shares their genesis in a very intricate way. There is no original to look back on; there is no precedent to compare to.
Years ago, a colleague said, “You can only polish dead things”. As with many quotes in theatre, the author is lost but it is wisdom I hold dear. What is most thrilling for me about new work is its infancy; it’s innate life that is trying to find its way into the light. Not to be polished, but be offered for the first time.
Katrina Darychuk – Directing Student in the Soulpepper Academy