The best part of my day these days is welcoming actors to the Silk Moth Stage for rehearsals of Give Us Good. Working on a world premiere is exciting (Pam Mandigo’s script is such a gift)! Directing for this immersive, flexible, wild space gives me goosebumps. Creating with familiar and new-to-me actors is a joy. But by far, the greatest revelation is working with movement director Holly Labbe.

Holly Labbe, watching the Silk Moth production of Every Brilliant Thing, while wearing a truly brilliant dress. Image by Tiffany Showalter Photography.

Holly is the president of the Silk Moth board, and she’s been a great supporter of the company from the start. I love her creative genius and her skill to create what she’s imagining.

Working alongside her in rehearsal is utterly fascinating. We share artistic and ethical values. She’s as invested as I am in creating a consent-based collaborative space. Our aesthetic vision for the show is perfectly aligned. But we have entirely different ways of seeing.

Working with Holly reminds me of the time I took what I thought would be a banal neighborhood walk with a mycologist. He transformed a familiar landscape by telling me every detail about the fungi and lichens my eyes skimmed past. When Holly and I work on a scene together, she names aspects of movement that I saw, but did not see.

The other night, she started a sentence with, “So, Tom is scrubbing—” and I literally gasped. From those few words, I knew what she was about to point out, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it myself. Her insight took my breath away; it was as if I had been staring at a blank wall and she pointed out a door right in the middle of it.

When she’s working with actors, her language is both technical and evocative, moving fluidly from concepts like “homolateral movement” to “hand-heart connection.” She’s interested in how people’s bodies move naturally, and how to shape what they are bringing into the physical world.

Working on movement with Holly reminds me, in some ways, of working on music with Scott Lange. I’m always amazed at how I can blather out a lot of ideas, referencing art, board games, dreams, and memes, and Scott comes back with the perfect set list. When I point out a specific moment that I need Holly’s help with, she’s able to provide the missing connections between what I imagine and an actor’s body, even when I don’t think I explain myself very well.

I’ve never worked with a movement director before. I’m learning so much every minute. Holly and I have been trying to find an opportunity to collaborate for several years, and I’m so grateful that we finally have the chance.

To see Holly’s brilliant solutions to challenging problems like, “How do you bake a poison pie as big as the moon?” and “How do you kill an invisible monster?” get your tickets for Give Us Good. It opens a week from tomorrow, with performances on September 10, 11, 16, and 17.

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