The Classical Theatre Lab is an ensemble of theatre artists devoted to exploring classical theatre, literature and performance in its weekly workshops as well as developing contemporary works inspired by the classics. It is committed to sharing these works with the public throughout the year.
Our goal is to promote a love of classical theatre by providing unique and distinctive audience experiences through a culture of diversity, equality and inclusion.
The Lab uses a minimal dues structure to provide a home for professional actors wishing to expand their talents through interpretation of the works of the world’s greatest writers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out about membership.
While the Lab embraces a membership with divergent training backgrounds, methods and professional experiences well-reflecting the multiplicity of approaches and attitudes towards the classical canon among theatre artists here and abroad, we believe a common theme has emerged that binds this unique group and informs its performance ethos.
Central to the practice of the Lab is its weekly moderated workshop class where the artists submit their work in various stages of development to the scrutiny of highly-skilled, independent moderators. Depending on the determination of the artist, a scene, play or project may, in effect, be run through a “gauntlet” of repeated viewings by the members and moderators who offer different perspectives and suggestions for improvement. At some point the artist with his or her collaborators may determine that they are ready to launch the project as a Lab sponsored workshop or co-production.
Over time, the Lab membership has observed that actor-initiated projects, given longer periods of gestation have produced the most artistically satisfying results when presented before the public.
While it is commonly accepted in theatre that the actor is a component in a collaborative process, the Lab emphasizes and encourages actor autonomy and initiative as a way to fulfill the unique demands of the classical repertoire, much of which was written by playwrights who did not anticipate the effect of the interpretive hand of a director on their works. We believe in the power of great texts, revered and spoken byfreed actors, to transport the audience to a level of transcendence as only the greatest writers have the power to do.Individual initiative, combined with generous collaboration, collective scrutiny and rigorous testing before moderators and members have proven the Lab’s usefulness and resilience in inspiring professional theatre artists to test and to develop their talents. After more than two decades of existence, the Lab continues as a community of independent, committed individual artists, one that has spawned leaders in theatre companies in LA and elsewhere.
Tuesday Night sessions are moderated by highly-regarded directors or teachers from the theatre community, who guide the actors in each scene or monologue. They are held weekly, except for a hiatus during the month of August.
In an effort to further the scope of its members’ acquaintance with the classical canon, the Classical Theatre Lab early on initiated a series of in-house readings of infrequently produced classical texts. Over the years, these readings evolved into a staged reading format and presented for one or two nights to the public. The reading series provides audiences with opportunities to experience rarely produced classical texts in addition to well-known classics, performed by professional actors. At the same time, the readings give members opportunities for live performance. The production values are kept at a minimum. We focus on a clear understanding and delivery of the text. The reading series also provides Lab members with an opportunity to evaluate projects for further development. A number of projects presented as part of the reading series evolved into fuller workshops or co-productions.