Visiting Block Island

It took me all of thirty seconds to accept Jonathan’s invitation to come train with In The Water Theatre Company during their Block Island retreat. I had been nearing the end of an incredibly dynamic and fulfilling month of working on a production of Julius Caesar (at the National Shakespeare Theatre of Brooklyn) with several ITW artists, and I was eager to have the opportunity to spend more time getting to know them and their creative process. As an acting student in my final year at Boston University, I am always searching for experiences that stretch me to look at my work in new ways. Thus, I was very hopeful that my time with ITW would offer me new perspectives and insight into working with the deeply physical aspects of theatre. What I found from the moment I hopped off of my boat, however, was so much more than I had ever imagined. In just four short days I was embraced by a palpable sense of community, accepted into creative work with a universal generosity of spirit, and challenged to be an actively growing artist.

The strength of ITW’s sense of community was apparent in every aspect of their retreat; from their commitment to eating meals together free of outside distractions, to their shared responsibility for training one another, and to their collective passion for the creative impulses of their ensemble. Under these circumstances I felt honored and so grateful to be privy to the energy of such a strong group. I was overwhelmed by how openly I was welcomed into their spaces and work to whatever extent I felt was right. As a guest I was empowered to choose my individual relationship to the work they do, and to take responsibility for what I wanted from each experience. To me, these aspects of the ITW community are emblematic of the openly communicative nature of their creative processes, and the value of collaboration that they instill in all of their work. As someone who intends to have a life full of artmaking and overflowing with ceaseless inspiration, it is nothing short of electrifying to bear witness to a group of people working to create with such vigor and professional dedication.

Whilst participating in this retreat, I found a greater pull to expand my artistic scope and examine how I might find previously unexplored impulses within myself. With this ensemble’s retreat from the thousands of focuses that occupy our daily energies, they seemed to burst into an endlessly expansive state of potential. It was this act of leaning outof a general routine of being in order to lean into something more specific that I will carry with me wherever my next steps land. I hope to explore ways to deepen my focus and grow into my own processes with the same energy I found so valuable on this retreat.

Now as I stand on the precipice of my final year of school in Boston, I feel lucky. Lucky to have known and spent even a brief time with the people of In The Water Theatre who continue to inspire me, and to have the exciting opportunity to continue working with them as their Boston Representative when they embark on their tour of Bacchic. I look forward to seeing how much they grow and change during the remainder of their retreat, and to bringing as many new people to experience the beauty of their work as I can.  


Madeline Sosnowski