WHAT WE DO is a visual interview series where we briefly talk to Chicago theatre artists about their art — what they do, why they do it, and what their creative process is like, even as it shifts in the midst of a pandemic. We’ve given each artist 8 written questions, as well as 3 prompts for photographs that capture their current headspace.
Today we’re hearing from Lavina Jadhwani, Chicago-based director, adaptor, and activist. She’s directed for Writers Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Remy Bumppo, the side project, and many others.
SELF-CAPTURE: A selfie, self timer portrait, a baby photo, or just a really awesome picture of yourself that you love.
Pre-pandemic, how would you have described your job, in a sentence?
I direct plays.
How is it different now?
These days I see myself primarily as a facilitator — I spend my time directing plays, teaching, and doing standardized patient work, all via Zoom. The online platform requires me to be more thoughtful and intentional when it comes to building community, and I’m intending to carry a lot of those practices into my in-person work, when it can safely resume.
What’s something most people might not know about your job?
I spend a ton of time on prep. The more thoughtful I am in my prep, the more present I can be in the rehearsal room, and that’s even more true now that I’m conducting 100% of my work online.
Who or what inspires you?
My students. I’ve been working with undergraduates across the country since the beginning of the pandemic and I’m learning so much from how they adapt, organize, create, and resist.
What’s one tool that is central to your work?
How are you resisting?
By eliminating perfectionism, urgency, and other characteristics of white supremacy from my work.
How are you taking care of yourself?
Rest. Reading. Weed. Comedy. Family time. And adopting a dog… soon.
What’s something about your community that needs to change moving forward?
We need to stop operating from a place of scarcity and start operating from a place of abundance. The notion that “when you get more, I get less” is colonizer nonsense intended to pit minorities against each other. When the tide rises, we all rise together.
SOUL CAPTURE: A picture of something that is making you feel good, or bringing your soul inspiration.
SURROUNDING CAPTURE: Show us where you’ve been spending your time, whether it’s your workspace or the place you unwind.