Interview | Faye Driscoll
The Brooklyn-based choreographer on roles as costumes, and on bringing methods and questions back from her work in theater.
How has working in theater influenced your choreography?
I’ve definitely been affected [Lee]. We’ve worked on four different projects together, and I’ve learned a lot. Each time I’ve worked with a theater artist, especially within the context of a play, or, like in The Lily’s Revenge, when I had to work from a script, which I’d never done before, I’m faced with a different palette. It’s outside of what I would, given my aesthetic proclivities, given my background, given whatever I’m struggling with—it forces me to step outside of those things. It’s changed my ideas of what I can do, when I go back to my own work.
What have you brought back?
The process of research, specifically for The Shipment. I did a lot of research about minstrel shows, watched documentaries and videos, the Nicholas Brothers.… I felt like it was a subject that I really had to immerse myself in, like for Cynthia Hopkins’s show [The Truth: A Tragedy, where] she was dealing with her father’s demise from . And just being around directors and the language they use to get what they need from an actor, or to explore different ideas… I’ve been doing this for a few years now, working on theater projects and on my own stuff simultaneously. You’re always picking up new tools as you go, as an artist. I may not even be fully cognating, I’m just applying, rapidly.
Have you borrowed any questions that you’ve heard theater directors use?
How do I work with what’s already there? Use every person and their vast potential and their own person-ness? Question-asking, and ways of framing things, so that it doesn’t tear someone down to hear [feedback]. So that it actually opens them up.
How would someone imitate you in rehearsal?
This one Halloween, my girlfriend and I didn’t have any costumes, so we went to a party as each other. She’s a lawyer, and so I wore a suit and I said, “I object!” all night and random legalese. She wore jazz shoes and a unitard, which I never wear, and she said, “Okay, come here! Tell me your deepest, darkest memory! Okay—now dance it!” [Laughs] Which is not at all what I do, although I am pulling and coaxing and prodding, in a holistic way, I hope, from the human beings in the room.