Extending the Ensemble

At the start of every season (and on a regular basis throughout each season), I revisit Whistler in the Dark’s mission statement to check our work against it and remind myself again what we are working towards:

Whistler in the Dark Theatre produces highly theatrical and physically inventive plays that question and challenge our assumptions about the world in which we live and the rules we live by.

Whistler strives to develop an ensemble of theatrical artists and audiences dedicated to exploring plays that celebrate the imagination through linguistic acrobatics and a stripping away of extraneous trappings. We hope to provoke the senses by focusing on the primacy of the actor in space.

For those of you who have joined us over the past seven years as Whistler has grown and adjusted and morphed, you’ll know that we’ve been constantly exploring and expanding our understanding of our ensemble. While we have always had an informal collection of artists who frequently collaborated with us and helped us develop our work, it was not until our sixth season that we started to formally develop the idea of being a theatre that draws its identify from the ensemble of artists who work there.

Starting two years ago, we developed the role of our Artistic Associate to be a more permanent part of our infrastructure: we’ve instituted monthly trainings where we work and grow together as an ensemble separate from any immediate project, we bring all activities of the company to the Associates for conversation before decisions about our path are made, and most importantly, we’ve empowered our ensemble to be advocates for Whistler in the community, and to use Whistler as an artistic home in which to grow.

Last year we took steps to expand the idea of ensemble into our audience as well, by creating membership tiers that gave our audience full access to every step of our productions, from first read-through to closing night.

As we’ve begun this season, I’ve been gratified to realize that we have expanded our ensemble even further. For our first production, a re-investigation of Ted Hughes’ Tales from Ovid, we are honored to be working with ArtsEmerson. For the second half of our season, we will be in residence at the Charlestown Working Theater, not just producing our repertory of Our Country’s Good and The Recruiting Officer and then our first devised piece, Vital at the theatre, but also collaborating with Jennifer Johnson and John Peitso of CWT in on-going trainings and outreach.

These two artistic homes are not just places in which to work, but rather physical manifestations of either new or deeper connections to two institutions that bring some of the best theatre in the world to Boston. And so, our ensemble, formal or informal, grows to include a larger pool of collaborators.

I am thrilled to be starting a season of growth and exploration with these new aspects of our ensemble. I’ll be reporting from the rehearsal hall of Ovid with updates about the ongoing collaborations and the discoveries we are making.

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