In January 2020, Rebecca Haley Clark and some friends mocked up some vision boards together. Clark cut out the word “odyssey” and included it in hers.
“Looking back, I thought, ‘Oh no, I cursed the year,’” Clark said.
We haven’t spent 10 years fighting in the Trojan War and 10 more sailing home, as Odysseus did in Homer’s story. But the pandemic and the sheltering in place it caused has felt to some like an odyssey—although one free of men turning into literal pigs, monsters, whirlpools, and clinging to the underbellies of sheep to escape the Cyclops. (At least for some of us.)
Clark, who finished a Masters of Classical and Contemporary Text directing course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland after receiving her undergraduate degree in Drama and Comparative Ethnic Studies from Columbia University, conceived of and directed a theater piece about this odyssey of a year, Hindsight 2020, “a devised multimedia time capsule answering the question: What parts of 2020 will you leave behind or bring with you?” The show is presented online April 9 through 17 via Those Women Productions.
Clark talked to some friends over the summer about the idea of putting on Twilight: Los Angeles, by documentary theater queen Anna Deavere Smith. In the end, they decided to put on an original piece about the pandemic and how it had changed individuals’ lives, inspired by Smith’s work.
In a year with social and political unrest, Zoom weddings and virtual graduations, and protests all over the world in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, Clark said they wanted to “provide a space for contemplation and healing found through the stories that we tell one another about this past year.”
Clark put out an open call for the collaboration. After callbacks, they had a team of 13 from around the world, including India, Mexico, Chicago and Scotland, making rehearsing somewhat challenging, due to various time zones.
With assistant director Cree Noble, Clark put together a list of prompts as the basis for show including: How did you find joy in 2020? What would like to leave behind? What would you tell someone from a different generation about this time? Clark edited the pieces and structured the show.
She said the end product isn’t exactly what she thought it would be—she couldn’t really picture it—but that she’s pleased with how it turned out.
“You start with these ideas and it’s very generic, and you’re not sure what all the threads and the through line will be,” she said. “I think of it like a funnel with a big open top, and our job is to put everything in, and then the harder part is distilling it down.”
HINDSIGHT 2020 happens online April 9-17. More info and reservations here