I sat down to write Eggshell after moving to a small city in Iowa, where I knew no one. After working at a hotel from 4 am to noon, I went to my little apartment and slept until about 8 pm. It was too cold to go outside, so I started writing. I needed to keep my head off my crappy schedule — and the idea that I was spending all that time alone. I sat down with one all-encompassing goal — to let a single simple idea inspire an astounding amount of creativity, not to try to write a creative idea.
With one thing in mind, a giant eggshell center stage, I spent countless nights writing out plays with that idea. I started more than a dozen times from the beginning with only that one thought, a giant eggshell. I would abandon all the characters and hints of story and try to re-focus on what it was that I was feeling, not saying.
After an insane schedule, on an odd segmented sleep pattern, in one of Iowa’s coldest winters, and through grueling nights of trying not to lie to myself, I ended up with Eggshell. I wrote it entirely in stage direction, because each time I wrote dialogue I found myself defining my emotions, and each time I would define them, there was something missing. I knew that this piece had to be told differently in order to be honest. I decided on gibberish.
If I were to allow each character to speak without words, and not place any restrictions on where they were to speak, I would open up the things I was feeling through them. I knew that there were other people out there feeling things just like me, and also struggling daily to say them. This interested me. In my situation I was in desperate need of connectivity. Because of my winter isolation and the low night-owl traffic in my hotel I had little chance to form community. I was forced to find this in my writing.
As the season changed, and I began to get outdoors, I abandoned my writing but didn’t forget the friends I had made in my characters. I decided to mount Eggshell in Iowa to the community I had formed. I received many words of praise from my peers and mentors for the fresh and uplifting nature of the thing I had written. I found that Eggshell was something that people could attach to, not because they could understand, but because they could feel.
I moved to Los Angeles a little less than a year ago in need of another risk. I found myself enamored with the life and the size, but yet again I found myself in need of a community. I wound up working for Art Via Corpora (a self-sustaining artist collective gathered under a shared vision), which opened up the possibility of presenting a piece of original work. Eggshell seemed to be the best candidate again. I called on one of the past communities of physical theaters I had worked for (Dell’Arte International) and found a trio of actors who were interested in collaborating on Eggshell after reading it. I knew that the perfect place for this production was the Fringe.
The solidarity that the Hollywood Fringe brings to the LA theater community is truly what Eggshell is about. It is about the feelings we all feel becoming exposed under one large all-encompassing eggshell idea, celebrating the work of emerging artists — and the amount of creativity that comes from that goal is astounding.
Eggshell, Artworks Theatre at 6567 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. June 14, 16, 18, 21, and 23, 10 pm. Tickets: $10. http://hollywoodfringe.org/projects/921
Søren Olsen is an award winning young director/playwright from Minnesota with BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Iowa. He has studied and worked under world renowned directors Robert Wilson, Martha Clarke, Michael Fields, Rinde Eckert, and Tony-winning lighting designers Chris Akerlind and Ed McCarthy. He’s a lighting/sound designer, actor and poet. Eggshell is the coagulation of Søren’s theater-baby upbringing and the nonsense memories that shape him.