HACK LAB
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HACK LAB

June 2020

A MULTI-GENERATIONAL AT-HOME EXPERIMENT DESIGNED & LED BY SHIRA LEUCHTER.

Hack Lab is an online, multigenerational discussion and creation group that asks participants to try new things and to disrupt traditional definitions of performance. Over two weeks in June 2020, the group met online to interact with artworks, to take part in informal discussions, and to see how group interaction effects creating work. Participants pushed the limits of their own processes through collaborative engagement and shared experiences with the all-ages group of artists including some working alongside their children and one new mother and her baby.

“Business Museum” by Calla Hanratty, made in response to our Objects and Archives session.

“Community Protest” by Calla Hanratty, made in response to our Community and Collaboration session.

“My Travelling Museum” by Diane Llewelyn-Jones, made in response to our Objects and Archives session.

Participating Partner Organizations
Nightwood theatre- Balancing Act 2
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Way back in February – which seems like a lifetime ago – I was lucky enough to spend a week with the Theatre Direct team, their artists, and collaborators as part of Metcalf Foundation’s Staging Change initiative. There were many big ideas that came out of our work together, and one of them was Theatre Direct’s desire to support performance work that breaks form. But, we thought, if we want to break form in Theatre for Young Audiences, we should take time to think about what form looks like at the edges of performance practices, and in other disciplines outside of TYA. For two weeks in June, I had the privilege of facilitating an online experiment to do just this.
Hack Lab brought together an extraordinary group of artists who formed a sort of online art watching/discussion/making group. Participants spanned six decades, meaning we were able to welcome a truly multigenerational group of artists. We wondered if taking time to consider what “performance” means in different contexts might change our perspectives of our own practices and our patterns of making and relating to art.
I organized each Hack Lab day loosely around a topic, so we examined Objects and Archives, Community and Collaboration, Site and Land, and Transformations and Possibilities. We started each day with an online check-in, and then each participant was free to explore the curated material in their own time; they were welcome to watch as much or as little of the materials as they wished. I also provided art-making prompts, if participants wanted some external art-making activations. I selected materials from performance art, visual art, architecture, game design, and other disciplines. Each afternoon, we met online for a guided discussion around our experiences watching the materials and making work.
We all appreciated that we could take in and respond to art in an environment where we were accountable to each other, but where there was little pressure to produce or perform in traditional ways.

Each discussion was like playing a pinball machine – someone would share a thought and then their idea would bounce off of us all, spinning us in new directions.

We all appreciated that we could take in and respond to art in an environment where we were accountable to each other, but where there was little pressure to produce or perform in traditional ways.
Some participants created work that was entirely outside of their traditional practice, some returned to ongoing projects with new tools, and others asked questions they hadn’t asked before, and are sitting with new ideas.
It was an honour to create and host a space for people to share so much and so deeply. I think we all felt our practices open and move in significant ways, and we’re hoping to meet up again to see how time plays on what we all learned. I’d like to thank Theatre Direct, and all of the participants for their presence and generous offerings.

Theatre Direct is proud to be working with Good Roots Consulting and the full report & evaluation of this project will be available in Fall 2020.

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