Collectin Consciousness



Crossing disciplines and uniquely attuned to each of its artists’ capacities, The Collectin is a thirty-member group of mostly NYU students founded by actors Alden Ehrenreich (who starred in Francis Ford Coppola’s Tetro and who has a role in Sofia Coppola’s forthcoming Somewhere) and Zoë Worth (who has performed with Upright Citizens Brigade and the Groundlings). Meeting once a week to workshop and share a “best-of” of acting techniques and exercises, The Collectin’s current project is Running Scared: The Technology Show, which runs from December 9th to the 11th at Center Stage in the Flatiron District. The play features a series of vignettes that lays bare the impacts of always being plugged in. In one piece, a deluge of YouTube comments overwhelms a performance, and in another piece, ushered by Facebook, a couple interprets their break-up. We spoke with Ehrenreich and Worth about Running Scared, as well as other future projects—which, like this one, are tailored to each of The Collectin’s individual strengths. 

ALDEN EHRENREICH: I was told one time never to go longer than an hour in an interview because you reveal yourself too much, but I never follow that rule.

ZOE WORTH: Well, we need to be at prop loan at eight.


WORTH: Prop loan.


DURGA CHEW-BOSE: So, let’s get started! Running Scared, let’s hear about it.

WORTH: Twelve kids from The Collectin wrote and are acting in Running Scared.

EHRENREICH: We use YouTube comments, like there’s one piece called “The YouTube Theatre.”

WORTH: And there’s one called “Missed Connections.”

EHRENREICH: Yeah, they’re all enactments of these online things. With Running Scared, I originally wanted to do a piece that was going to be about a couple and the whole thing would be based on wall posts on Facebook. So the idea started there. The whole concept behind this was to generate work based on the strengths of people who were in The Collectin.

CHEW-BOSE: Why are you called The Collectin?

WORTH: We called everyone to my apartment for our first official Collectin meeting in August of 2009, me and Alden were staying up all night thinking up a name and writing our mission statement to give to the crew, and we were struggling. We were like, “Yeah it’s for us, by us, that’s the whole thing.” And we realized that’s FUBU, and so we went on FUBU’s website to see some of their literature, to find some buzzwords. [LAUGHS] And the first thing we saw on the site was a misspelling of the word Collection. It was written “The Fall Collectin.” And then we said we’d make that a place holder for now; there’s no way it will stick.

EHRENREICH: And then people liked saying it and so it stuck.

CHEW-BOSE: For now, is Running Scared The Collectin’s main project?

WORTH: The play goes up in a week, and we are actually, me and Alden, gearing up for a movie that Mel Shaw, who I’d say is the filmmaker who we work closest with at this point in the group, and her thesis film for NYU is going to be the beginning of what she will turn into a feature this summer. We’re co-starring in it. So I would say we have a split focus.

CHEW-BOSE: Does the collaborative nature of the group favor, in terms of your movies, improvisation instead of script? 

EHRENREICH: We do a lot of improvs and we film those improvs, and transcribe those improvs into scenes.

WORTH: It’s retro-scripted.

EHRENREICH: There’s some improv, but our goal is to have a script that’s built on what comes up organically. Tetro was the first time I had experienced this process. We did a scene where Francis transcribed a whole conversation between me and Vincent Gallo where we didn’t know we were being filmed. And then he edited it and then gave it to us as a written scene. The experience of acting that scene was that I felt there were zero hang-ups about the wording, it felt really natural.

CHEW-BOSE: Does Tisch know about The Collectin?

WORTH: It sort of feels like Dumbledore’s Army.

EHRENREICH: I mean we’re not anti-NYU, we’re just trying to…

WORTH: We see the flaws in the school’s infrastructure.

CHEW-BOSE: Individual projects aside, what’s your big goal for The Collectin? Do you want to have your own theatre? Do you want to have your own production company?


EHRENREICH: Yes, yes. Yes to both.

WORTH: We’ve been talking about moving back to California and having some sort of space. My hope would be to bring attention to all of the people I’ve seen over these four years at NYU. If our website gets hits, then our hope is for their individual websites to get hits too

EHRENREICH: Long-term, it’s also an alternative approach for entering into the professional world.

WORTH: It’s about creative control at young age.

CHEW-BOSE: Are there any other collectives that have inspired The Collectin?

WORTH: A company we are into is The Actors Gang. It’s Tim Robbins’s company, and it’s based in Los Angeles. I work there, and I’m part of the company. They meet on Sundays, which we copied. They are such an amazing company. It’s this separate universe of working together and getting better, and consistently staying on the best path they can be. So in starting The Collectin, I took heavily from that.

EHRENREICH: It’s always been very important for me to be surrounded by people. It’s never been enough for me to be successful alone. I want to be around people my own age who are also doing things I can learn from. And something Francis Ford Coppola said when we were doing the movie was, “If you learn something about people when you do dinner with them every week, you’ll learn a lot more if you play softball with them every week.” This is us learning what the climate is creatively among us.