On October 21, The New York Times leaked a draft of a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services, which revealed the current administration’s intent to define gender as “a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth.” This proposed legal change denies the existence and experiences of trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people, and would roll back recognition, rights, and protections for these communities.
With the changes proposed in the memo, the role of gender identity would be lessened under Title IX anti-discrimination laws in favor of the limited definition. This would mean transgender people would not be able to dispute discrimination in terms of physical attack, housing, employment, education, or healthcare. Having to take invasive genetic tests to prove one’s sex with a DNA sample is a very real possibility and would be a violation of one’s personal rights.
Cal Shakes strives to be a theater where people of all gender identities and expressions are safe, supported, and welcome. Trans, intersex, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people are members of our staff, audiences, community partners, student groups; they are our family, and deserve safety, respect, and self-determination. We stand unequivocally with them and we do not support any government policies that endanger their safety and agency. Trans rights are human rights. From the law to our offices to our amphitheater, our family #WontBeErased.
There are many direct action steps you can take, including some listed here by Out Magazine. There are also many organizations that you can support with your time, in-kind donations, or financial contributions.
Here are some organizations that Cal Shakes partners with that support the trans community that you can support:
For over 10 years, Youth Speaks has presented the Life is Living Festival in West Oakland. This free festival celebrates life through public art, wellness activities, and environmental and social action, investigating the questions:
How do we catalyze community building?
How do we integrate the arts more vitally into our communities?
At the 2017 Life is Living Festival, Campo Santo and Cal Shakes dug into these questions by co-curating the third annual Theater Stage with the theme of BLACK AND BROWN RESISTANCE. With a pulsing through-line spun by DJ Dion Decibels & MC’d by Lisa Evans, we featured a mixtape of local artists embodying the creative ways people of color resist through word, music, and movement.
Alayo Dance Company lit up the stage with Afro-Cuban dance, embodying celebration and cultural preservation as acts of resistance.
Nyabingha McDowell performed monologues and songs from RYSE Youth Center’s original period piece Richmond Renaissance about Black ownership:not just ownership of property, but ownership of self and community, which is a resistance to the system that we are chained to.
Bonafide Rojas spit poems on art as a tool of resistance and the generations of Puerto Ricans who have fought for sovereignty against US imperialism.
Boomshake brought beats to the stage from across the globe for Streets are Free, a drumsical inspired by a Venezuelan children’s book that recounts a true story of children living in a barrio fighting for a safe place to play outside.
Through drums, song, spoken word, and freestyle dance, Rising Rhythm Project celebrated early hip hop as youth artivism in Mission District in My Soul.
Lisa Evans took a break from MCing the stage to perform an excerpt of You Really Should Sit Like A Lady (or How I Got to Femme) , an exploration of the hilarious, perplexing, and sometimes infuriating contradictions of defining one’s gender outside of cisheteropatriarchal mandates.
With poetry, rap, guitar, and vocals, Gina Madrid chanted down police brutality, racism, and discrimination.
Featuring a fusion of storytelling, spoken word and hip hop, Daniel Mora’s one-man play PASSAGES testified to the power of community healing.
In The Niggas Speak of Rivers, the Fine Ass Queer Artsy Heauxs Collective explored the intersections of blackness and queerness, radical remembrance as resistance, and how we can heal and propel ourselves towards a future that holds all of us.
Performing resistance in the tradition of the Black Arts Movement, the Lower Bottom Playaz presented an excerpt from Beyond the Bars: Growing Home on the devastating effects of the American carceral system.
How can theater help us find and be all of ourselves? For Artist-Investigators Cat Brooks and Anna Maria Luera, this was the question driving their work with Rysing Women during the 2015-2016 season.
Rysing Womyn works with the women that society is prone to throw away: the angry, the rageful, the sad, the traumatized, the oppressed, the exploited. Artivist and co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project Cat Brooks and actor and theatre facilitator Anna Maria Luera worked with young women of color in the project to find refuge in creativity and artistic expression.
Watch below to hear Brooks and Luera discuss creating and holding space where young women can share their stories, find joy and healing in laughter, and “be all of themsel[ves].”
Want to see more from Rysing Women? Check out Slaying Our Inner Demons, an experimental visual essay based on one of the poems that came out of this Artist-Investigator project, and Cat Brooks’ essay on the project here.
Full Transcript of Video:
CAT: Community–based art has always been a part of my life and understanding the power of theater to heal, theater saved my life quite literally. I would not be here, had I not found the theater.
RYSING WOMYN: The Artist-Investigator Program at California Shakespeare Theater investigates how the tools of theater artists can be applied outside the rehearsal room.
Cal Shakes 2015-2016 Artist-Investigators Cat Brooks and Anna Maria Luera helped young women of color find refuge in creativity and artistic expression through the Rysing Womyn project.
ANNA MARIA: There’s a joy spread in being like what can happen, what is the impacts that these young women can make on the world, in their work, that we’re facilitating and really creating space for them to be all of themself, through art, through political education, through healing.
CAT: We would get there, and the girls would slowly roll in. Sloooowly roll in. And uh, food, like Anna was talking about, so we got to the point where we just realized that they had to eat, every time, so. We’d eat, and then Anna talked earlier about ritual being very important. So we had the ritual of checking in. Going around and just honoring whatever the girls are walking in with. And sometimes the girls would go into very deep detail about what they were feeling. And sometimes it was, “I’m cool,” right, or “I don’t feel like it” and that’s sort of the check–in. And then a meditation, a grounding and a meditation, a getting in the space. And then, some sort of vocal warm up, breathing, exercise to move in that direction and then it varied. So then it was either political education and improv and journaling or it was improv and journaling and then doing the, you know, reading. We used poems a lot, as a way to get them used to reading words and comfortable with putting emotion on it. And we would do, you know, give different direction about how to read it. We did that a lot. And then we would close out with “Pass the Pulse,” which was my favorite piece of it, and then,and every time the girls would hug each other, tell each other they love them, hug us.
ANNA: They were beautiful, they are so beautiful.
CAT: And then off they would go.
ANNA MARIA: Many of our girls, most of our girls, if not all of them had some very basic needs not met. And then we said, come to this theater program, right, and I believe it’s a necessity ‘cause they tell their stories and who they are, but those things, if they’re not working in connection with meeting basic needs, then the part where they don’t have food, they don’t have housing, they are in and out of foster care. All of these things will overthrow your whole program.
CAT: Things we didn’t know, right, or think about: the demographic that we were working with, transient, right…not time-bound. The idea initially was that they would improv their wayto writing their own pieces, and then there were so many shifts in girls, and timing, and when we’re going to perform, and then we weren’t going to perform. There was one period we went from having, like, 15 girls, right, to 8, to 2, right, for the extended period of time. So balancing the realities of Black girls from low-income communities, who have gone through some things that I can’t even imagine the weight of. I’m going to cry. So balancing them bringing all of themselves and all of their experience into the space with trying to incorporate theater discipline and like, being on time, or grounding yourself before you begin the work, or not talking when somebody else is doing a monologue, or commitment to being at rehearsal on time and for the duration, things that…you know, asactors, that’s how we live our lives, was challenging. But we never stopped trying.
ANNA MARIA: Yeah, yeah.
CAT: There was one young woman, she would need to leave early. It was always, it was always, something, right, with her.
ANNA MARIA: We had to talk her into everything.
CAT: Oh my God. I love her, and…
ANNA MARIA: And she showed up all the time.
CAT: And she would show up every week and then there was this one time and she legit had to leave early. It was like a legit thing but it was closer to performance, and I was irritated. She bounced out, right, and then like 2 minutes later the door opened again, and she came back and gave this very thorough explanation about why she needed to go, apologized basically for interrupting the process, assured us that she was going to go home and do the work she needed to do, and she would see us next week and then she left, and I was like…
ANNA MARIA: She would’ve never done that a year ago.
CAT: I was like, “Did that just happen, that just happened.”
ANNA MARIA: That amount of accountability that this young women who’s what, 16/17, adults don’t have that.
CAT: Because at first the mandate was you had to perform when we first started, and then, again, things we learned, right, that for a bunch of reasons that just was not going to work. The re-trigger, re-traumatization of the young women, and so we put it out there. We were like, here’s your option, ‘cause we want you to write the piece and so it was an option whether you decided you want to do your own piece or if we could hire some actors that could perform your pieces for you. And a lot more girls thought that they were going to have end up having to act. I think just knowing that they had the safety net of the actors, allowed them to write the piece. Right? It was like “OK, so I’m not really going to have to get up and perform this, right, in front of an audience? Someone else will do it? OK, I’m gonna finish the piece,” but at the end the majority of the girls who remained in the cohort, they wanted to read their, they wanted to perform their own stuff. The other learning I think around the come as you are, what the fullness of that really means, right, and so, I would never go to work high. Right, I can never show up to rehearsal high or drunk or whatever else or go out before the show and, right…but it was more important for them to be in the space and allow them to make the decision about their sobriety in that space and let the power of the work that they were doing in the theater, for them to choose it, than us going you have to show up this way and that way and this way, otherwise you can’t be in the space. And that was not always comfortable, right…
ANNA MARIA: But they couldn’t come in the space and not participate at all…and so that was very clear, and if they didn’t participate they didn’t get paid that day.
CAT: There’s that feeling that you get when you walk into a theater, right, as an actor. When you walk into a theater space and it’s empty and there’s the stage and the work’s getting ready to start. You know and then the lights and the sound, there’s just…And it was really important for us that they had that experience of doing theater on a stage with the lights and a tech and the audience and they got that, right.
ANNA MARIA: And we really I think also tried to incorporate the theater exercise to match with the political education. So if we played a…if we like, or ritual. So if we played a imaginary objects game, later on they would bring another imaginary object that meant something to them into an altar space. If they did statues and it could be like statues in a place in Hawaii that their practicing on, just fun stuff, but later on they would bring those kinds of activities into a space where we talk about police brutality. So it’s like really using those activities, theater activities to forward the vision of what we want for the young people and to also bring them to a space that’s like, we know it feels weird and sometimes we feel weird and it’s okay. And so when we gather the pieces there’s a bunch of themes that came up. Family themes, a lot about mothers, and some of them were mothers, violence, the political themes that came through that were beautiful. It is very easy in this work to say, here are all the hard stories and everybody can feel sorry for you, but being clear that our young ladies are bad asses and they’re warriors and survivors and they laugh and joke and make fun of each other and hold each other in space so in seeing, like the fullness of our group, I wanted their stories to really be about that. They started also doing things that were about them. One young woman comes in and all she says in her check–in is, “this is like the worst day of my life” and she starts crying, and all the young women surrounded her, put their hands on her, and hugged her and held her. We didn’t start, we didn’t do that. They did that on their own and so when you see them care for each other like that…
CAT: In ways that have been modeled for them, right.
ANNA MARIA: Yes.
CAT: It was a practice.
ANNA MARIA: One of the young women who had kind of started off really strong and then had a bunch of stuff happen to her and then came, was coming back, she was back there with them and like going through the pieces and they were like giving her notes and telling her say it like this and those are the things where we go, not only are they down for each other, but they’re down for the work and they’re down for themselves to do the best possible work that they can do for each other. Young people and our young women, we want them to come and feel safe and taken care of. So when you’re going into a space that can be extremely difficult, when young people are in gratitude like that, for what you have to offer them, for how you love them, because we’re in gratitude for them, and that back and forth is really like, we would leave all the time and be like, man, I’m so glad I came.
How can healing be a form of story sharing? Looking at the intersections of ritual and performance, Artist-Investigators Meghan Elizabeth and SK Kerastas (now the Artistic Producer at Cal Shakes!) combined their backgrounds in theater and plant medicine to offer a curriculum called SPIRIT MOVES to Amber’s Group, a weekly support group for trans women of color funded by the San Francisco Department of Health’s Transgender Health Services.
Bringing together grounding, meditation, and plant healing over a shared space of food and ritual, SPIRIT MOVES supplemented the group’s purpose as a space for self-expression and healing.
Watch below to hear how Meghan and SK talk about the power of passing down the stories and knowledge that come from surviving, and from healing ourselves.
Want to see photos from the workshops? Check out more from SPIRIT MOVES here.
Full Transcript of Video:
SK: Hold on. Can we just start over?
INTERVIEWER: Oh yes, you can.
SK: Hi, I’m SK Kerastas.
MEGHAN: Hi, I’m Meghan Elizabeth.
SK: And we…
SPIRIT MOVES. The Artist-Investigator Program at California Shakespeare Theater investigates how the tools of theater artists can be applied outside the rehearsal room.
Cal Shakes 2015-2016 Artist-Investigators Meghan Elizabeth and SK Kerastas combined theater and plant medicine to support the self-expression and healing of Amber’s Group, a trans women of color support group funded by the San Francisco Department of Health’s Transgender Health Services.
SK: I ran a queer youth theater program in Chicago for 5 years, and that’s actually how we know each other, we met collaborating. Meghan was working at an organization called the Broadway Youth Center, and I would go…I think we collaborated on some workshops and did a couple of exchanges where the young people were working with…met each other. And that was kind of my angle and my focus and my passion.
MEGHAN: And I’m a former youth organizer…and I’ve done a lot of youth programming, different age ranges. And I’m also a current herbal student, or aspiring herbalist. My work was, has really been about merging sort of like, my political organizing field with myself as a healer. Well, we’re really exploring this concept as healing as a method of story sharing. And looking at how folks can share their stories differently when they’re operating through a space of healing ritual and… more specifically, ritual as performance. We did a lot of background work in things like, this is how you tincture a plant, this is how you make salve out of lavender. And through like, those practices of learning how to make medicine, we got to explore how people like to use medicine, and what sort of like, rituals or spiritual components that they bring to the table when they’re healing themselves.
SK: Well first of all, we didn’t really do any programming for…5 weeks…maybe?
MEGHAN: No, no, no, no…
SK: 4 weeks?
MEGHAN: More like 4 weeks.
SK: 4 weeks.
SK: We would just go, and share space. The group we were working with was a like, support group, that meets every week for trans women of color. We did four different Fridays of just…you know, chilling, checking in, just like everyone else did, getting a lot of advice, and uh…and eating. Sharing food together. And I think a lot of listening, too. We were really, in addition to relationship building in that time we were also like, okay, here’s the vibe of this place, here’s like… You know, it’s really different when you’re working with people who’ve like, shown up for rehearsal, vs. folks who are like, coming to a space to eat and get some basic needs met. You know, Meghan would like, open up the session with like, a nice grounding, usually just like some…guided meditation real quick, and then we would do, kind of like, half focused on medicine and half focused on like, some artistic practice. Meghan would introduce the plant, talk about its healing properties, and the group would like, make something together.
MEGHAN: The energetics of the plants would definitely shift the energetics of the story sharing, and I think that that happened…like a physiological medicine way and in like thatif you huff enough lavender, your body will start to calm down. Or if you drink enough chamomile tea, you will, your cells will start to feel rejuvenated. And also in more of just like a, sort of magical way too in that like, if we did a practice of trying to do a movement that embodied what we associated the healing properties of rose to be, over and over again, those movements and those stories and those properties, would come out in how they chose to talk about their lives.
SK: Yeah that jasmine day was like…
MEGHAN: That got a little wild. Lavender.
SK: Oh my god, you remember! Really incorporating a lot of the elements and like, what people received from the plants into a performative space.
MEGHAN: Well then, we would close usually with…they would go into check-in.
SK: Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
MEGHAN: Which was also really insightful to see the ways in which people were checking in before our program would start vs. after they had been…after they had made some medicine and talked about healing value, talked about…healing rituals and then would check in again, their check-ins would shift. Drastically, sometimes.
SK: Yeah. I just remember, you know like the… people really connecting to what the plants were offering too. Like on the rose day we were talking about sort of the…harshness….as well as like, the harshness of the thorns as well as the softness of the petals of love. It’s like, the duality of love, right? And we checked in for like an hour that day, like everyone had a story, you know what I mean? Everyone wanted to talk about their ex, like everyone was just, you know…sharing in this really beautiful way.
MEGHAN: For example, one of the women in the program invited us, on the, I think our second to last week
SK: Oh, yeah…
MEGHAN: …of the program, to come see her garden. She had a plot, as well as a chicken coop in a community garden space, and so, there was also this thing, there was like this discovery that happened with her where it was just like, oh she already had so much information about plants, and…was already using plants to provide like, a healing ritual for her already. Probably about after week 9…I think is when realized that…it was time to do something more intimate. So, we started working, as SK was saying, with four women, and we met an hour before, their main drop-in group….and would just like focus on them and their specific stories and the way they wanted to tell it and…if their stories related to any of the plants we had been learning about. With the plan of…we built a large altar space and…we made little healing bouquets for everyone in the group. We set up the chairs…and the women would come in, sort of one by one and…perform, like, a ritual storytelling and…also of plant honoring. So they would pick their specific plant up off of a larger altar. Tell their story while holding the plant, introduce the plant to the group, and then sit down and light a candle for the plant. And then…at the end…they ended their stories by blowing out the candles together. It was very like, spell-like. Their stories were like prayers in this way.
SK: And the women in the audience were like, crying when they were asking questions. Which was like, something that was part of that culture, lots of like, affirmations to each other, you know? But…you could just like tell that the audience…who were their peers and family, you know, were like, really moved…Yeah…
MEGHAN: Maybe even just to see like, such a tenderness and…and respect given to those stories by like, you’re holding the flowers, you’re standing in front of us, you have the candle, you’re taking your time with the story. And it’s not even a story they hadn’t heard before, you know…but it was just such a difference of telling it in this way where you come in and you’re like, having a day and you’re like, “Girl, let me just tell you what you just happened to me, like, da-da-da-da vs. like…”
SK: And someone’s interrupting you, or whatever…
MEGHAN: Yeah. Yeah, totally.
SK: One participant, she was probably the oldest…
MEGHAN: She was probably the oldest, yeah.
SK: And you know, in group…like, I don’t think she ever said a word. She like never, you know…if, if she was pressed to check-in, she would say, “Things are going great” and you know…
MEGHAN: ”I’m fine…”
SK: ”I’m great, moving along.” But within this group, she just like, blossomed and was one of like, I would say —
MEGHAN: The strongest.
SK: Yeah! Like her story was consistent, she really took direction well, and um…yeah, you could just see her opening up through the process.
MEGHAN: I’m really…I feel hungry to work with an elder community again. I think…coming from the Midwest…I’ve never really had that much access to…a queer community over the age of…30, I mean…. To be able to spend my Friday nights with…my reflections, you know, with these like…these femme queers Black women was really special. And just like, absolutely…something that I…I didn’t even realize that I didn’t have access to until this group.
SK: We put in so much time to build relationships with these folks, right to…almost to the point where we’re like starting to become this stable presence in that space, only then to like, leave it so I think being like conscious of those…those dynamics at play and like…how can we….keep a good thing going, as well. It’s a beautiful thing to hear from people who’ve been through it. Like, over and over and over again, and have so much to say about how they survived and how they learned. They said we were always welcome.
What is the power and place of storytelling? For Aimee Suzara, this was one of the central questions to be explored as an Artist-Investigator during Cal Shakes’ 2015-2016 Season.
AYPAL is a youth development organization whose mission is to empower Oakland’s low-income Asian & Pacific Islander immigrant and refugee families to be leaders for neighborhood change. Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer Aimee Suzara teamed up with AYPAL, working with youth to build and perform guerrilla theater addressing the issues most important to them in preparation for AYPAL’s 18th Annual May Arts Festival, a day of cultural resistance against gentrification, racism, and young people’s oppression.
Watch below to hear more from Suzara about how young people writing their own stories helps them carve out their own spaces in the world, why we need to see non-Western stories as universal, and the crucial role the artist plays in social movements.
Clickhereto see a video from the 2016 May Arts Festival: Reclaiming our Roots, including interviews with Suzara, the performers, and excerpts of the performances.
Full Transcript of Video here:
AIMEE: Cultural workers are performing the labor of moving hearts and mind through acts of culture.
AYPAL: The Artist-Investigator Program at California Shakespeare Theater investigates how the tools of theater artists can be applied outside the rehearsal room.
AIMEE: If we go back 15 or so years, I was, I got heavily involved with an environmental justice organization in the Philippines. And through that work, what was discovered was that, while you know, the scientists and a lot of the people, it was a military toxics campaign. So it was basically at the U.S. military bases in the Philippines. I learned that through the arts, I was able to contribute something that the scientists and the environmental technicians and all those folks and policy people weren’t quite capturing. Andthat movements need artists, and that artists are not just sort of, like, supplementary but actually are often the carriers of the message and able to move hearts and minds in ways that other aspects of movements aren’t.
So, I think with this project, my first instinct was to be more of a fly on the wall and observe what was going on before I came in. So, I felt that I was really blessed in a way because I had worked with AYPAL in like, early iterations since my history of working with community-based art and arts education went back to, what, like I said, to the turn of the 2000s. And, I had some familiarity with who they were.
I’m coming in representing, like, a theatre organization, and representing being this person who’s kind of studying and also, like, supporting. But also that, that they came first. Their work and their voices were the first thing that anybody heard. So when I came in, I felt like I was really sort of plugging in, fitting in where I could and reminded them that, I’m coming to support with tools, but a lot of the tools I have already.
I take a…renewed belief and conviction in the power of storytelling, with theater being, you know, the primary, I think, setting, container, and set of, of techniques and tools.
A typical day would involve me coming in. The youth would lead, lead a workshop. So, it would be something like gender…sexual orientation. They did one on white supremacy. Like, these terms and trying to understand these big -isms. So, I was always, I was trying to make sure we covered, you know, everything from, like I said, them leading stuff, to me kind of giving, like, early lessons on, what is theater, what is guerilla theater, what are the aspects of it, what are the different roles that you might participate in. Let’s give you some roles. Let’s do some writing, let’s do some editing. And then let’s get on our feet. And so,they got a chance to see that this is really, like, about how they’re going to… interrupt and…and uh…carve spaces… and that this is going to be what they want it to be.
So, it was like, each day was actually different, other than, with the exception of some kind of collective warm-up.
To me, the most important thing was the story coming out. It’s the story being staged. They’re going to laugh, and sometimes laughter is a way to deal with, with that this is a hard topic.
I takelike a, like a profound inspiration, you know, sense of inspiration because their leadership blew me away,their sense of leadership, that young people… you know, we all say like, “young people are the future” and all of that, but like, they were really the present, like they were leading. And I’ve worked with youth before, but I think that there was a way that especially for this, these communities and these young people who don’t have as much of a visibility…to see them in leadership was powerful.
I saw people step up, you know, young people step up. Suddenly, they memorized their scripts. Or…suddenly, you know, they put their foot in it and they really did it.
The transformation happened. You know, they were right there with them. And it didn’t matter whether they laughed or messed up, ‘cause they were really paying attention to, even to serious topics.
And that was probably the most important impact, was, the people at the May Arts Festival, which was the young people and their families and other people in the community, having just visceral response and support.
The fortunate thing about having performances, public performances, you know, we’re talking about, you know, violence, and we’re talking about folks seeing their own friends killed and shot and this kind of thing is happening for these young Southeast Asian kids, they come in laughing and joking and all of that, but unless you really are paying attention and asking them what’s going on, you may not realize that they’re experiencing a lot of violence and struggle and, you know…challenges, like…even just coming to school or even showing up. One of the things was they showed up. And if they show up, then…you know…that’s just as important as what they, they perform.
There was one young man who… I wasn’t sure if he was going to show up till the day of the show. And also he hasn’t practiced as much because he wasn’t there, but he showed up, he did his piece and it was one of the most, like, profound and I think pivotal moments of the show because he told his personal story, and he’d gone through so much loss and so much, like, depression and, and he just told it.
Southeast Asian youth are still, are still marginalized, and I think that I really feel more convicted around trying to support these voices, you know.
A lot of these young people, like…their own families came from escaping war-torn situations, um…and…some lived on refugee camps and stuff like that. And a lot of these, the characters that they wrote turned out to be people that they knew.
There was like a figure, like an older sibling, that’s like, trying to, who was in gangs, and who’s trying to, like,pull them out of that. And then there’s like, the parents who work too hard, are not available and maybe, and there was actually some like, abuse topics too. And I noticed these coming up in several skits.
There was always this element of family like, of family coming together. As a Filipino-American, who comes from a, um, you know a different Southeast Asian group, on a surface level I think that it could be seen as, “Oh, we’re, you know, grouping somebody with somebody um…and she must, they must know something about each other’s stories.” And I think on some level, we do, we look similarly, we look like we could be family, and on the other hand, our stories are very unique and vastly different. You know, I think the tendency in the United States and even the very well, the most well-intentioned, culturally well-intentioned or progressive people would say like, “Oh yeah, I saw an Asian thing, or I went to an Asian play, and I went to a Latino play, I went to a women, a people of color this” or whatever, and I think we all sometimes contribute to that, but within that…it’s very important that we don’t think we checked off the box of Asian, or we checked off the box of, you know, Latino or whatever, because…within each of those groups there’s so much variety and so many different stories that…we need to know.
We tend to see more like, you know, European-based Western and American stories as universal, but a lot of people don’t experience those as universal, actually. And so why not have the stories and the theatrical work in the center that are currently seen as marginalized eventually we have to see those as universal as well or as, just as centralized and necessary.
It’s very important to put people of color, women of color, LGBT folks, disabled folks, people with various identities in these leadership roles asthe kind of role that I’m in.
We don’t see enough people in leadership who either actually connect with the communities that they might want to forward…but also there is something about being an insider-outsider.
I’m using that term because there’s a way that seeing myself reflected in the community who’s performing and doing theater, the theater, was very important and transformative for me, but also them seeing someone that looks like me it looks a little more like them is very important and as an educator.
I don’t see enough of myself in leadership roles, and when I do, the impacts are…possibly haven’t been measured and captured enough, but…are, are very powerful, you know, in terms of really making a larger change.
We don’t necessarily write these stories only for each other, that these are actually… necessary for everyone to see and learn and support.