“How do you know you will work well with a particular circle of collaborating artists in the theater? How do you choose your groups? How do you choose well?”
As a writer, like yourself, I can see how this would really be a golden key to be looking for. I have had some very different collaborations over the years and when you asked this I started to think about how did I get to the best. Well, this may sound strange but I think the relationships have to go on for a while before you can actually judge how successful they really are, both artistically and personally. I believe as I try to define it for myself it is the people that through the time I just realize I will do anything for that really are the ones that I adore. In a funny way that does not have to do with being near the same age – it may be a much older or a much younger person. What I adore is someone I truly admire for the way they treat people and the passion I can see in them.
The ask of this question reminded me of a recent collaboration on a very very big show where we had a huge commercial producer and after a viewing of the show the producer flew off leaving his team with a bunch of notes including redesigning the first costumes of the two leads and how he wanted them changed before he flew back in for opening night. When presented with this the director was kind enough to me to say – “this is OUR problem – I did not want this, but we need to do it for the large corporate producer”. So what he did was leadership in a hard position that involved inclusion. That is a pretty hard thing to do – to have the courage to set forth a path that lets your team feel valued and led. He later thanked me for the way I handled it. This is the kind of thing that makes you want to do anything for someone – and I would do anything for him!
I have through the years had long long term friendships with some of my fellow creative team members and shared personal aesthetic thoughts that let us rely on and trust each other no matter what. I am not sure that I knew at first that these would turn out like this – but as you go on to do more and more work together you start to see that the vision is one that can change and adjust to be the best for the whole. I have had the pleasure of these long-standing relationships which at the base of I know first and foremost I look out for the artist I know this person to be. In other words, I want to create for myself but I always have my eyes peeled for the situations they are in and realize that what we do is birth and like most births, it will have pain and time, and then if we are lucky it comes together and we want to do it together again.
But mostly these are people that I know I would be able to spend 24 hours with a day within hard situations and find pleasure and humor along the way and have those amazing moments when something comes together and you all feel joy.