“What is it that you want to do? Follow your impulses. Have a sense of play about it”
– Catherine Speaks
Today’s post comes from many things and moments. The title comes from a character that I’ve written and become very close to. A queer black womxn by the name of “Won”. She’s fiery, questioning, searching, hurting, healing, like-able and unlikeable, human, flawed and beautiful and well…I like to think that I’m a lot like her. I’ve heard that playwrights always write themselves in their plays and maybe Won is my me in a play. It’s 2018. Wow. I’ve been wondering just how real time is in the way that society has it marked and well, what does it really mean to be 2018?
Last year at this time, I was very intent on my relationship and burgeoning business with someone that wasn’t a great fit for me for many reasons. I don’t wish to harp on that ending, but I will say that I was afraid to be alone. Leading into the deep of winter and the beauty of spring and summer, I continued in this manner. I was afraid to be alone and somehow putting my work to the wayside for community and collective that didn’t really want to exist. It wasn’t until this fall that I made the final choice to focus on my own work. I created a podcast that features my voice as well as some great friends as we figure out life and its possibilities with our artistry as our GPS. I started focusing more intently on selling my art and on my One Womxn Experience and how that can be made into artistry. Not at all an easy task, but something that I felt encouraged me to really step into my truth. It’s been a few years of floundering and in many ways, I’m still not at solid ground, but at least I’m moving what feels like forward.
Finding ones own artistic voice and expression can be one of the most rewarding and important things that an artist can do. What is it that you want to say in this world? In what way does your art reflect the ugly, the broken, the beauty, the sweet and sour? People will say so many different things about your art in both ability and reception, but the thing is, they aren’t you. What makes you get up with excitement is what draws you to be an artist. Do what draws you to be an artist.
I’ve been having many conversations with fellow artist friends and we all seem to be in the same spot. We’re all trying to figure it out and tell our stories, the stories of our ancestors with truth, with ritual, with breath. How? How can we tell those stories and not be fetishized, drawn into mainstream culture that commits acts for the benefit of white colonizer mentality? I sat with fellow artist friends this week as they prepare to workshop a play. I won’t blast them too loudly, but they’re two womxn of color doing important theater work and telling the stories of Latina womxn of color in all of its self, with well -rounded representation.
Putting on a show/workshop isn’t by any stretch of the imagination easy. It’s tiring and works body, mind and soul. I came to a rehearsal to sit and support my friend and as I watched, my own director brain kicked in and I thought, I wonder if it’s okay for me to offer some help. Long story short, I spent a little time engaging the actors in “play” and I could see the hard work that she’d done with them and the tiredness that comes with the tech week of a rehearsal for a young director. I asked the question that I think most folx of color don’t truly get asked often, “How are you caring for your self?”. Co-writers and director stopped and kinda just stared at me as though this was a completely necessary but foreign concept. “How do you care for your self?”, they asked me in return. Together, we rode a ride of what self care can look like and to me, that is a moment of healing and connection that transcends a one womxn experience to a Won Person Collective. We each won in that moment of really seeing and engaging with each other and maybe even reclaimed some ancestral space from when our fore-ancestors sat together and truly saw and asked the questions pre-colonialism.
We must take care of our selves and in doing that necessary work, take care of each other. Putting our art and our stories at center is revolutionary, but just “How” do we do that work? I want to live a healthy, whole, artistically full existence. How is that done? I have a friend that says that there’s nothing “new” under the sun and I think that he’s right. Perhaps it’s not “new” to relearn the ways of care and artistic expression. Maybe it’s just remembering. Remembrance.
I like discovering ritual and remembrance in all that I do and I’ve been thinking about going back to school to engage more in the research of Performance Studies and ritual work. Then, I’ve been wondering, but how much can I do if I’m in school? Doesn’t the work begin outside of that? Yes. I believe for me that it does. I’m doing that work. I do that work every day. It’s not enough to get a piece of paper and be defined by academia. How do you define yourself? Your worth? Your work? Your art? Your vision?
How do you want to?