Meet the Theatre: The Anthropologists

♪ (jazzy drums) ♪ My name is Melissa Moschitto. I am the
artistic director of The Anthropologists. We study people in time and place, using
research, source material, first-hand accounts and other cultural artifacts to
create really dynamic work for the stage that asks questions and provokes action. So first there has to be the idea, right? Typically, we start with a provocation.
A question. What do we feel that’s not
being addressed right now in the world that we feel like we can shine a light on? Once we have that seedling of an idea,
we will go into the research phase. So, collecting and
curating research, source material… For me it’s more about
activating the research for the actors and the
designers in the room, bringing in stuff not just
for them to read, but also to play with. From there we will generally enter an
investigative phase, where we schedule a number of rehearsals,
we have a group of invited artists… I’ve been very fortunate to
be invited by The Anthropologists to take part in the
devising process, actively… We try and work in
a really horizontal way, so in those investigative rehearsals,
the actor is the dramaturg. The scenic designer is the performer. The sound designer can
be a lighting designer. And I’m just there as sort of, the
orchestrator… what do you call them? (snaps) -(off-screen) Conductor.
-Conductor, thank you! The conductor, yeah, more that. Hold off…
Okay, give it all to me right now. And then together,
that is how we form the play. So we’re starting with the ideas,
the content, a movement sequence or a stage picture,
and creating the show from there, rather than starting with an
existing script and staging it. So the script comes, almost last. Our motto for the company is,
where art meets action. And I think that really
starts in the rehearsal room, with all of the artists who are
creating the work, and hopefully the goal is to share that with
the audience and inspire them. And have them ask us, what can we do next?
What’s our action step? Give us the ability to,
and the space to respond. For example, the first show
we ever created, Give Us Bread, was about who has access to food. And we programmed this amazing array
of events alongside the performances, so we could really dig into
those issues on a local level. So we all took eco-pledges
during the rehearsal period of, “Anthropologists Save the World,
until we close this show, I will not…”, and for me it was using plastic —
really, really hard to do! I had struggled with our new climate;
political, social, racial, economic climate that we are in,
about what I can do. And I think Melissa was
the person who said to me while we were doing No Man’s
Land, “This is your activism, I think.” And I sort of went, “Ah, yes…” My wheels started turning,
and I eventually told Melissa at some point in time, I think
I’m ready to jump off a bridge with you. Whatever you need,
whatever you want to do, because yes, this is my form of activism. With The Sinking Island, we’re
looking specifically at sea level rise, and how that is dovetailing with
our current, very serious refugee crisis. We are starting to see some of the very
real effects of climate change, but really it’s our children who are going to
be experiencing the brunt of this. So it’s crucial for us, and this
is one of the goals for this piece, to start conversations,
multi-generational conversations, because we don’t have any more time. So this is a family inclusive show, so really talking with your kids
about what’s happening in our world. Our goal with this show also is
to be cultivating empathy. We wanted to do that for the kids’ sake, and I actually am coming to
realize we have it backwards. We need to cultivate
empathy in the adults. Because the kids already have it. And I’m really hoping that
adult audiences can learn from the kids. We are taking action,
I’m taking action in my own life, addressing a question
or a concern, rather than — or in addition to feeling bogged down — in the day-to-day realness of politics and
life in the United States as we know it. It’s about taking that first step, and
acting — right, taking that first step, and acting on the things that
we need to do to make real change. (sings while playing ukulele)
♪ Hope it won’t be… too late. ♪ (police siren in background)

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