Ain Gordon: Not What Happened

Ain Gordon: Not What Happened


Interview with Ain Gordon

ain gordon interview 250wideYou are frequently commissioned to create "site inspired" theater works that draw on lost or overlooked histories; how do you start?

I start by walking.

I do not surf the web or read books; at first I resist stories packaged for long-distance viewing. I go to the place and I walk. I look for current conditions and negligible clues to their beginnings. I walk. I look for some form of question that sticks. Next I ask many people the most open-ended version of that question I can verbally manage. I am trying to both learn the question's ramifications and be available to unexpected response. I do not want the answer I could give myself just as I do not seek the story I could find at a distance.

The first to arrive in me is never plot. I don't often experience that required sense of beginning or end, but rather a constant modulating hum chaptered by emotion. When I'm lucky, the force of that emotion accumulates into theme. Then comes character. Then I scramble for a container – a situation to tilt character and theme into action.


Research Questions by Ain Gordon


How to research the sensorial fallout of a rote task two hundred and eight years ago?

I admit I could not frame that question till halfway through the research. I knew I was pulled toward an activity of no historic consequence (I often am). I knew I was interested in a moment and location that was daily and transitory, the task rather than the artifact of that task. (I often am interested in the moment before “the moment.”) Also yanking at my consciousness was the giant silence of one imagined cloudy morning in pre-industrial rural early America (facing the empty virtual page on a cold gray Wednesday knowing I should write is my version). Girdling these tangents was a question about historical reenactment. (I’m not sure where I got that – it appeared.)

Previous Residencies