Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The production, The Institute for the Opposite of Longing, will be making its debut at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this summer. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Lindsay Beamish: The show is about two women who run an institute called “The Institute for The Opposite of Longing,” where people come for help with the thing they are yearning for/can’t let go of/can’t get to feel the way it should. These people are called “Needers,” and the women try to enact with the Needers thing they are longing for-- but it never works for one reason or another. It’s then revealed that the two women who run the Institute had a child that they had to give back, and they can’t stop reenacting his last day with them, and are stuck in an endless loop of longing and replaying and longing and reenacting. Their inability to let go of their loss starts to bleed into the Institute, and the lines between the Needers and the women begin to fully blur.
BD: As the co-writer, co-director, and co-performer of the show (alongside Vanessa Peters), what inspired the creation of this project?
LB: When I create theatre, I work from a place of no ideas. I don’t ever start with an “idea,” I just go into the rehearsal room empty and start to experiment. In this case I had been writing in the fall with a previous collaborator, and most of what we were writing about had to do with yearning/loss/babies/motherhood/adoptions/foster care/etc—really based on the two very different (yet relevant to each other) places we were both in on that spectrum. I then sort of set all of that aside and started working with Vanessa. Like I mention above, we sort of came into the room empty. The rehearsal room we were in on the Emerson Los Angeles campus has this big round sort of cryptic sign with the initials “DL” in the center, and no other information. It looked like it was the logo for some sort of corporation. In a moment of not knowing what to do, I had us start giving sales pitches for whatever corporation we imagined the sign could be for. We kept switching off improvising these invented sales pitches for a company that changed each time we gave a pitch. And eventually that developed into as Institute for The Opposite of Longing. From there some of the baby/loss/fertility stuff reappeared, and worked its way in in terms of the Needer who wants a baby, and into the story between the “ladies” themselves. And we expanded the scope of need/longing into different territories too. I’d also always been very affected by the haiku in the piece: “In Kyoto, hearing the cuckoo, I long for Kyoto.” It so perfectly sums up my experience on earth, and yet when I ran it by other people I know and love and asked them “Is this how you feel all the time?” many of them said no. That was shocking and fascinating to me and is sort of the basis for the Needer/Giver differentiation in our show. Like, you either get that haiku in the deepest part of your bones, or you don’t. You were either navigate the world with a hole in yourself that you spend the rest of your life trying to fill, or you somehow made it this far without knowing that feeling. And it’s a big divide to look across.
BD: What can you tell us about the entire team that is bringing The Institute to life, and how would you describe the creative process by the ensemble?
LB: For this show, Vanessa and I created every single aspect. We wrote it, directed it, star in it, designed the sets, designed the costumes, designed the lights, designed the sound, etc. It has been a deep and intense collaboration, and one in which we did the jobs of what is usually a collaboration between 10 different people. But we did it all ourselves. And because of that, I would say that every single minute detail of this show is very deeply entrenched in our creative “voice.”
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
LB: That they get chills and think, “My god, I know exactly what that feels like.” That they feel recognized and seen and reflected back
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for The Institute for the Opposite of Longing?
LB: Because I want to do work in intimate spaces that are untethered to profit and salability, and in which innovation and experimentation can happen freely and with extreme intimacy. The Fringe is a good place for that!
BD: The show will be appearing at the The Actors Company from June 8-29, 2019. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
LB: We hope so!! We are looking for other contexts in which we can continue to perform this show. Audiences are responding in an incredible way, and it definitely doesn’t feel like time to put the show to sleep once the Fringe is over.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for The Institute for the Opposite of Longing?
LB: Come and see us! Our show is different from much of the usual Fringe fare, especially in the intricacy and specificity of the world we’ve built and how we balance the absurd, the mundane, and the deeply emotional. Nothing about the show is lazy or casual or flung together. Every single second of it has been deeply and carefully crafted, and we didn’t give up on shaping a single second of the show until each moments’ emotional and tonal chord was perfectly struck.
Be sure to reserve your tickets online! We are selling out every show!