Blog Post #3 – Reflections on O, Earth

As I entered into this Independent Study of Queer Persons of Color Critiques in an Ethical Producing process I was deeply intrigued and curious about what this experience would be. I wondered what practices and from where would we draw from as ethical producing practices or resources, established or otherwise, and how to best develop, support and manage a staged reading of play written featuring persons of color and LGBTQ+ individuals. Knowing that it would be unlike anything I had encountered before, I felt a combination of trepidation and excitement, to be sure, I definitely had my apprehensions. Notably, what if anything would I have to bring as relational to this project as a white, pan sexual female, with limited experience in staging a play reading or being able to present full-fledged theater performance with actors. It felt important to deeply listen, and remain open to the varying interpretations, situations and individual stories present at any moment in the room. There were some challenging themes written in this play we were going to stage as this is a piece of writing that features and highlights a community, in past and present times, of queer, transgendered and QPOC individual elements and stories. I felt it was important to approach this work with an open heart and compassionate sensitivity the the unknown, that was all I knew how to do and that I was not going to be alone when and if there were questions, concerns and challenges that we had to work through.

And then there was the play itself, which to me initially on paper, read as somewhat shallow and potentially disconnected.  As I expect with most plays, they are meant to be in active verbal representation, alive on the stage. In this work, both time periods and narrative cohesion switched at times which made it seem to be almost without reason or logic. But, once we had with our characters in the room, interacting together, the humor, nuance and reality began to show. I feel this was mainly because of the brilliance, dedication and commitment given by our beautifully diverse and supremely talented cast and my director, Zeynep. They rescued my hope over and over again, especially in that we could make sense of it both for ourselves and for our audience. There are multiple layers of important, untold and fascinating stories not given a place in the wider circles of creative expression, cultural communications, performance, and acceptable content outside what sells as the norm or the standard. But in this journey with this play, we had a taste of what that can be like.

I know that enjoyed the responsibility of success, in part only, for this final project. And, if given a second time to try again, I would have preferred to have a larger number of persons able to be with us, especially in the areas of assisting in the responsibilities, that Zeynep and I had to manage. The commitment level at times was quite involving and included various tasks that, were more time consuming than I had predicted. Specifically, I think I could have managed my ongoing awareness of personal scarcity, in learning to actively speak up, to ask for what is needed and, is a practice that I am working on continually in my professional life. I am also aware of my shortcomings, from my absence for some of the rehearsal process, and in clearly communicating my boundaries. In the end, the cost was my deep level of fatigue and emotional uncertainty.  However, the shared joy of watching the actors develop, and experiencing an opportunity for investigation, understanding, and growth were absolutely worth the effort.

I have tried to reveal most of my reflections on this journey, it has been challenging and quite rewarding and I believe we worked very well together, especially that we all collectively were coming to this project with both time and availability constraints. It was a deep pleasure to be assisting Zeynep in some of the directing, development of actors and character work, in providing feedback during and after rehearsals and, building cohesive scene transitions. I also worked with Z and Ruthie for sourcing and making some of our props, costumes, accessories and, in organizing the continuity for scene and actor transitions.  In general, I felt it was important that my focus be as present and available for numerous essential preparations for the cast and production components leading up to and on performance day. All of which built up to a heavily involved scenario which I had not imagined a stage reading process would involve. In conclusion, I personally feel that this staged reading was a successful journey of discovery, awareness and growth for our actors. I believe that it was a success also for the team that worked on it, for the playwright, and our audience because of the positive responses I witnessed from friends, colleagues and mentors.

Blog Post #2 – Literature Response

It’s hard for me not to fall for the writings of Don Shewey, he is an eloquent, easy to follow writer whose vocabulary is filled with passion, reason, and well-balanced keen observations delivered with sublime moments of import.  He brings the reader right up against the historic past of queer theater and nudges us along into the near present, circa 2002. We ride alongside its players, writers, producers, director, cultural makers, and extraneous doers that are and were. As we journey along with them in their shaky, messy, lusty – sweaty, dusty, parched, tormented stagecoach it feels and reads like jostle of the traveling circus troupe of the not so distant past.

The author also recognizes the plentiful histories and losses of queer theater and of theater as a whole of which collectively, are parts numerous. From the raging health crisis of AIDS that was and is, to the lack thereof or delayed recognition to its formidable contributions to both the mainstream theater and Off-Off Broadway productions. All the while plugging along with its partner, known with familiarity as vast machinations of underwhelming funding sources that choke its existence. Nothing much has changed here.

The ambitions of Charles Ludlam being of particular significance to the article, here we find a certainly palpable sense of deep respect and tragic loss of this formidable artist, a man, who made numerous works, shared incredible ambitions, writings and inspired a timeless legacy of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. He and his amalgam finding refuge for themselves in the arts, a type of religious practice, with sacred ritual and particulars of the most methodical assembly of various elements that make theater. Queer theater, is birthed from a raw belief in the power of truth, honesty, and allowing the best parts of anyone have the opportunity to exist freely and with abandon. Guided by passion into a place of full exposure, chance, connection, challenge and little if any monetary remuneration but a wealth of possibility. Born from the promise of, if you can conceive it you can achieve it.  As Shewey contends,  “…the pioneers adhered to no coherent aesthetic, form, style, or content. They made theater that was outrageous and artistically ambitious…nowadays virtually all pop culture quotes other pop culture. Then it was a subversive strategy, cultural critique, and identity formation disguised as child’s play” (p. 129).

The ways of queer culture seem to be existing and constantly changing, as does everything, in relation not necessarily as a reaction to the world.  The art of theater making as important, respected, and accepted as means of understanding our journey here as humans in a place we must share, like it not. Shewey mentions that great queer theater has at times been known to be antagonistic, opposing, but that it does can exist as harmonious and even consensual. And that when it is all over, just like any journey, we are deeply engaged in and transformed by its truths. Yet the author remains true to his wish of being sensitively aware of tendencies to romanticize or idealize queer theater as but he also succeeds in not portraying exclusivity in practice.

This is evidenced for me personally by the way I was transported into a familiar and comforting world that is the art of theater and more. To a place that feels somewhere along the lines of longing for what childhood is, now long passed. A kind of nostalgia, and sense of belonging, yet for some of us, just on the periphery. It feels, sounds and smells of that longed affirmation of near totality in experiencing life. Mired in a universe of emotion, physicality, guiding in part by our mind heart engines, and in part by our desires, sexual and otherwise in a raging, stretching, seeking, pulsating rhythm that drives us onwards and upwards into the vast galaxies of imagination. Practicing a craft, of any kind but especially theater, of any genre, hurtles us constantly towards meaning, self-expression, acceptance, family, community and, at times serenity and escape from the blundering pain of life in the normal grind of everydayness.

It is for me about acceptance and community.  Queer theater is that too, without consciously attempting to make itself other than that, an alive presence. Not only a political tool, antagonist to the norms, or as some would like to justify, an outlier of any human spirit and sociopolitical statement or situation. More to exist as an utopia performative, and to captivate and empower, as Jill Dolan contends, “…through the power of the performers’ presence, not to insist on authentic experience, or pre-modern primitivism, but to see, for a moment, how we might engage one anothers differences, and our mutual human-ness, constructed as it is in these brief moments together” (p.31).  The queer theater and the essence of humanity comes out of a raw belief in the power of truth, honesty and allowing the best of anyone to shine through. Leaving room for the spaces between what is seen and not. Making places where the light can come through.

References:

Dolan, J. (2005),”Introduction: Feeling the Potential of Everywhere.” Utopia In Performance. University of Michigan Press: p. 1-34.

Shewey, D. (2002),“Be True to Yearning”, The Queerest Art: Essays on Lesbian and Gay Theater. NY: p. 124 – 34.

Blog Post 3: Reading Reflection

In Against the Romance of Community, author Miranda Joseph explores the notion of community and what it means to create a community space. Joseph primarily argues that while communities seek to create an all-inclusive, safe space for a group of people who identify similarly with one another, they also inherently exclude others. In essence, Joseph says that to develop a sense of “us,” one must also create a counterweight of “them.”

By examining the concept of community, Joseph also looks at how people identify and categorize themselves into social and cultural groups. Her main takeaway implies that people ultimately navigate through the multi-dimensional facets of their identity such that they call forward what is most relevant and makes them feel the most safe. She identifies that a community could be formed on the basis of identity, unity, or communion.

Joseph incorporates the idea of ethical producing of queer/POC works by first examining the mission statement of a theater group who tries to establish who their market, or “community” is and how to best serve them. The group struggles to be inclusive without pandering to every possible emotion of every audience member, though ultimately settle on a problematic exclusion of a key group of the community they tried to represent.

Joseph goes on to look at how different cultural institutions define their community, and how some communities are not nearly as different from others structurally despite how different their people may be. She argues that, at their cores, all communities are a byproduct of capitalism because of an unequal distribution of wealth and power.

Reading this piece in the context of the class made the idea of ethically producing both more and less daunting. While it seemed almost comforting to know that all you can do in producing a work is pick your audience and strive to support them in the best way you can, it also felt disappointing to realize that you will never satisfy everyone. Joseph seems to discourage people from trying to achieve an unattainable utopia so I would have liked some more suggestions of what to do instead.

At the very least, I feel like the introduction of the notion of “us” and “them” regarding communities created a thoughtful framework for me to examine future productions. For example, if I am working on a show that is representing an “us” when I am part of a “them,” I need to constantly remember to create space for the community regardless of my other-ness.

An example I could relate this to is what I imagine the experience of being a hearing performer in Deaf West’s Spring Awakening might have been like. While hearing actor Alex Boniello technically shared the role of Moritz with Deaf actor Daniel Durant, Boniello had to consciously give Durant the room to perform without drawing too much attention to himself. Although the community of this show was meant to be deaf and hearing audiences together, Boniello’s upstaging of Durant would have compromised that mission by interrupting the experiences of deaf viewers.

Blog Post 2: Event Reflection

I also attended the staged reading of A Chip on Her Shoulder by Honest Accomplice Theatre with Dana and Zeynep on March 27th. The reading was brought to the audience as a workshop during which the small crowd was encouraged to fill out feedback forms before the production went to its next iteration. The piece was a devised work that began with interviews with women in the STEM field from Virginia Tech. Through minimal staging and low, yet compelling light design, the cast weaved together the similar but different experiences of several women.

I think that this reading was as successful as it was unsuccessful in several regards. The way each actor personified the wide range of characters delighted me. In particular, I was happy to see trans actors playing characters whose stories were not completely contingent on their trans-ness. At the same time, I definitely feel like the script and staging could have used more work. The stories the women were telling, at times, were awkwardly paired and way too long or otherwise just not very interesting. The staging, while logical, also sometimes strayed towards boring.

Nevertheless, the story made me think about the seven years that I was a STEM student. Listening to the women express their grievances about being underrepresented and underestimated made me reconsider my experiences. Was I a “bad” engineering student, or was I just led to believe I was because my teachers didn’t take my work seriously? Was I drawn to studying the arts because it is where my talents lie or because it’s a field “for women”? If I had continued to pursue a career as an engineer or a doctor, would I be as trusted as my male counterparts? Even now: am I as incompetent as I feel, or am I suffering from imposter syndrome because our culture normalizes and encourages women to be insecure? Why is it that, at work, my words hold less value than my male coworkers? Is it my gender or my work experience?

The insight I was most delighted to take away from this show was how a reading works and what the right questions are to ask from an audience when seeking feedback. As I was preparing for O, Earth and Faust, I thought back to this production as a reference for the general structure of the way things “should be.” The simple yet efficient staging, suggestive costuming and thorough feedback form felt like the perfect baseline example of the essential elements a staged reading should include.

As an example of queer/POC theater, this felt ethically produced as actors were given the opportunity to represent the voices of others like them without being reduced to a stereotype. I am interested to see how this piece develops into its next form as a “docu-musical.”

Blog Post 1: Process Reflection

Admittedly, when we first approached O, Earth, I struggled with finding a way to contribute to the creative process without overstepping my boundary as a white-ish, straight-ish woman working on a show that heavily features queer POC. Further, I wanted to try a production role that I had not done before but was afraid to select something I might be bad at. Ultimately, I agreed to try Professor Werther’s suggestion of being the costume designer.

My process began with simply reading the play and developing a general concept. I knew that this show was meant to showcase its diverse cast and creative minds, so if this were a full production, I would have liked to shop or buy materials specifically from stores or companies owned by queer or POC. As a workshop, I wanted the cast to shop from their own closets so as to inject their own personality into their characters. I felt that if I picked pieces that were too obscure or hard to find, I would have not succeeded in my goal. I wanted to ensure, if possible, that no one had to buy any of their costume pieces.

Next, I met with Z to discuss her ideas for each character. She virtually introduced me to the cast by compiling a folder of headshots of each actor alongside their names and roles. I asked Z to give me any specific color palettes she might want for each character alongside their overall “vibe.” She wanted each character’s costume to look as if it derived from the time period during which they lived and encouraged me to include a diverse range of colors. We swapped some ideas and resolved that I would create moodboards with several options of costume pieces for each character that she would relay to the cast.

In creating the moodboards for characters based on real people, I made sure to include a photo of what the actual person looked like. I did not want their costumes to replicate any of the figures’ clothing identically, but rather seem like something else that may have existed in that person’s wardrobe.

For every character, I did a preliminary Google search for pieces representative of the ones Z requested them to have as well as their related accessories and clothing items. I took extra care to make sure that the clothing items were something the actors might feasibly own by picking out more simple, contemporary pieces as well as selecting photos from clothing sites featuring their current selection.

In order to remain flexible, I included a couple of different outfit options for each character that all suggested the same characterization. To keep the actors on track should they want or need to deviate from my suggested items, I included some brief descriptive bullet points. The notes included offered details about color palettes and overall style.

After having the moodboards approved by Z and making adjustments where she felt was necessary, she sent them out to the cast. The cast was supposed to respond if they had any major concerns or questions but otherwise bring any potential pieces to rehearsal.

From rehearsal, Z sent me pictures of the actors in their costumes as they owned. She asked me for feedback if an actor had several different options and overall checked in that each costume fit our shared vision. Roberta filled in the blanks by acquiring and providing any missing pieces or accessories.

Altogether, I feel okay about my part in the production. The cast all looked beautiful and true to my moodboards (ridiculously so), but admittedly I can’t take credit for putting it all together. Z and Roberta had done most of the hands-on work with the costumes and did an absolutely stunning job. A flattering metaphor to describe me might be that I was the “architect” while Z and Roberta were the “carpenters,” but truthfully, they painted the picture and I took the credit.

Blog Post #1 – Offsite Event Report

Film: After Louie by Vincent Gagliostro – March 31, 2018. Limited run at Cinema Village on E12th St, NYC. Post screening Q & A with the director, writers, producer and two cast members.

Director: Vincent Gagliostro

Producer: Lauren Belfer, Alan Cumming, Vincent Gagliostro

Writer: Vincent Gagliostro, Anthony Johnston

Runtime: 1hr 40m

Cast: Alan Cumming, Zachary Booth, Sarita Choudhury, Patrick Breen, Wilson Cruz, Everett Quinton, Anthony Johnston, David Drake, Justin Bond and Joseph Arias.

Synopsis: After Louie explores the contradictions of modern gay life and history of the AIDS health crisis in the 1980’s through the eyes of a disillusioned visual artist and former activist, Sam.

The story of my accidental offsite event exploration goes a little something like this…

It was my birthday dinner on a Tuesday evening, New York City, late March. The location is this fantastic Italian restaurant, on the corner of Spring Street directly north of the Here Arts Space. Here in this beautiful relaxed and elegant place, with some of my closest friends, our decisions made about our food and drink. This fantastic waiter, Anthony, has been taking care of us with a casual yet personable flair, while gently steering the meal along. I am contently having a blast at this celebration, every moment is going along so deliciously. We have shared some appetizers, a couple bottles of wine, there have been commentaries back and forth peppered with boisterous laughs and great conversations. We are about to have a small dessert and, another friend arrives. Alystyre, she’s a documentary filmmaker / photographer rushing here after teaching yoga. Tea is ordered and Anthony presents the dessert slice. He then mentions that he is signing off and lets us know about a film, After Louie, his film is being screened this week at Cinema Village. Well, as things go, Alystyre strikes up a brief conversation with him and it is revealed that she was an extra on set and likely is in the party scene of his film!  Coincidental but not unusual so afterwards we discuss a plan to go see it over the coming weekend. Leaving the restaurant, a few of us decide to grab a last drink at a nearby bar. We walk into Soho Room and, upon stumbling into the back area we notice Anthony, our waiter, sitting with a friend. In jest with announce that we are following him…he smiles and we wish him well and then find a corner area and settle in.  The evening soon ends and I arrive safely home, falling into a satisfied slumber, a slight hangover greets me in the morning but with no regrets.

A few days later…

It’s a rainy Saturday night and I am at the Cinema Village with Alystrye. We watch the film and sure enough, she is in the party scene near the end. I well imagine that it must feel pretty amazing to see oneself on the big screen. We decide to stay for the Q & A shortly after. It was a very interesting and informative session because we had the opportunity to hear first-hand about the life and journey of activism, expression and identity in the 1970’s & 80’s with the director, Vincent, who experienced, observed and has written about these encounters. We also heard about becoming a co-writer for this project by Anthony, the fantastic waiter, and talented actor. He was eloquent and generous, it was amazing to have established this coincidental connection. Present also was Lauren, a producer, and the actors Joseph and Patrick.

Later in the theater lobby, I had the opportunity to speak with Anthony and Vincent. They are humble and lovely people, truly thrilled to be presenting this film in this particularly relevant neighborhood and, especially at this time in this country’s political status of uncertainty. I also discovered that this film opened in California a month before coming east and, will continue to be seen in various film festivals in cities world-wide over the coming months. The film is also available to view through live streaming channels.

The main themes of this film are centered around self-examination, authenticity, and multi-generational queer identities. It is a fictional story, based loosely on truthful events, of a man named Sam Cooper. He is an aging gay man, an artist and retired activist, who is seeking to honor the legacy of his departed friend, Louie, a fellow activist in the early years of AIDS/HIV health crisis in the 1980’s. We watch Sam as he brashly lives his solitary, angst ridden and alcohol imbued lifestyle, and enters quickly into a sexual relationship with a younger man who later becomes his friend. It is this encounter and the ensuing tangles of human relationships, that Sam is opened into another deeper self-examination of what it means to be ‘out’ and expressive in the world today.

This film and the journey we are on in this story is relevant to the topic of the political power of art and ethical producing of queer persons because it dives into the changing aspects of multi-generational queer identities alongside the legacy of our collective human existence in our ability and desire to explore, identify and potential to express and explore our sexual preferences and gender identification, or to choose not to identify with established norms. The experience of watching After Louie requires us as the viewer to think about and examine the ways in which we as humans stay true to where we came from while continuing to look forwards into who and how way may be ourselves. While at the same time this work also illuminates the importance of honoring the legacy of the various histories of the LGBTQ community when considering multi-generational and multi-gender tensions in today’s communities.

https://twitter.com/cinema_village/status/980510643345338368

Here is the link to the twitter feed & photo of post screening Q & A that we attended on Sat March 31, 2018!

Blog Post #3: Readings (Munoz and Dolan)

It’s been such a long time since I’ve read or thought about Jose Munoz’s “Disidentifications” reading, but here goes nothing. From what I understand, disidentifying means to move away from definitions of identities that are traditionally given to something or someone, and creating new forms of those identities that better suit them. I feel like this could mean updating definitions that are outdated/offensive to more currently politically correct ones, or just that the definitions of words of identification change over time and need to be reconsidered in their new meanings. The word “queer” comes to mind, as it used to be a slur against the LGBTQ+ community and now it has been reclaimed and is used proudly by many individuals in said community. On page 1, Munoz states that “the act of performing and theatricalizing queerness in public takes on ever multiplying significance” (emphasis included). When queer people or people of color (or queer people of color) get to perform their identities onstage, it allows them to disidentify with whatever traditional, stereotypical ideas that audiences may have of them or their characters, and form new identities however they choose to do so. This puts the power in the hands and actions of the performers to rewrite their identities to be more accurate to how they view themselves, rather than how other people may view them.

Jill Dolan’s “Utopia in Performance” looks at the other side of this, the perspective and experiences of the audience rather than those of the performers. The utopia of performance that Dolan talks about is the experience of people coming together into the same room to have a shared experience of what they are watching happen onstage. During this time, they are removed from their real-life selves and exist in an imaginary space that only exists for a fixed amount of time, and this creates a sort of community amongst theatregoers. Additionally, the theater provides a space for people to experiment with different realities, ones that are different from their own lived experiences and that may be more positive than what they are facing in the real world. Hence, the utopia. This article reminds me of something I was told at a theater I worked at in high school: something along the lines of “art is a platform upon which society must examine itself.” This ties back to Munoz’s idea of disidentification; if people see something onstage that they do not like the portrayal of, they have the power to redefine those things in other productions, thus bringing to life new ways of categorizing things that perhaps did not exist before. While Dolan’s analysis makes sense, the one critique that I have of her utopic experience is that it is entirely based off of her own experiences in the theater. While I personally do not disagree with her and also believe that the moments that exist during live performance are indeed special, I do take issue with the fact that she does not take into consideration alternate experiences that people may have; she focuses solely on own perspective, which is fine for an essay, just not an academic one.

Blog Post #2: Process

Coming into this independent study, I was excited to learn how to ethically produce work for minority groups that I may or may not be a part of. I love the idea of using theater as a form of activism, and for years have struggled as a queer woman to find spaces for me to exist in. The appeal of this project was creating spaces for queer people of color to command, even if I as a white person do not think that I am necessarily qualified to be handling this work. I suppose that was part of the learning process, but something about going into this blind felt wrong, even though I/we did eventually learn that in order for these undertakings to be successful, those who are in a more privileged position have to step back to allow the people for whom this project is being produced (queer people of color) to have substantial input and to listen to them when and if they have concerns regarding the piece.

As the head of marketing and communications for the project, I did not face too many ethical dilemmas regarding who was producing the work and for what purpose(s). It felt like a safe job for me to do, one that I would be good at and also enjoy doing, and it was. From working on past shows at Baruch, and being involved in some LGBTQ+ organizations off-campus over the years, I’ve been growing a network made up of both theater and queer people, which are two of the three major target audiences for this production. I have no doubt that between Facebook groups and academic connections that we will be able to fill our house of 70 seats.

Throughout the project, I also worked very closely with Sampson Starkweather, the Publicity Coordinator at the CUNY Graduate Center, Center For Humanities. We worked together a create a new graphic for the production, and to divide and conquer our outreach to our respective networks. We had one very productive meeting where we discussed which aspects of the production would be best to publicize, both visually and verbally, and we shared networks and ideas for getting the word out, including email blasts, social media posting and sharing, and word of mouth. Our Facebook event was our main catch, and I think we worked well together because we bounced a lot of ideas off each other and I was able to offer insight into the student marketing world that Sampson was not aware of.

My biggest struggle with this project was creating the poster art for it. To be honest, I didn’t think this would be part of my job, but I hated what the original one was – a rainbow plastered over a photo of the Earth. It was like someone had heard “O, Earth!” and “queer” and overlaid the first two images that came to mind. Sampson wanted to keep the images realistic, while I wanted to go for a more graphic look (because that’s the style I work in), but we both agreed that we wanted the artwork to be vague enough to be open to interpretation, while still relating to the show. I compromised by taking his rainbow Earth and putting the rainbow behind the Earth, with text overlaid on top, and a crowd of women – activists? – on the bottom. Below are the original and final products.

All in all, I had a really good time collaborating with Sampson on this project, and I hope we have a good turnout, because the turnout will pretty much determine whether I succeeded or failed at my job. I think marketing was the best role for me in this production, because anything more hands-on that required me to physically be somewhere would have been too much to handle, and I would not have been able to dedicate to it the time that it deserved.

Blog Post #1 (Event Attendance): BAX and Honest Accomplice

The first event that I attended for this class was the Artist Services Weekend at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange on February 10th. The one panel that I attended was called Process as Product, and it looked at different works of art (including photography, interviews, and performative pieces) that, as the title suggests, were meant to be presented as processes rather than just looking at a final product. I think this panel is important to this independent study because most of the work we are doing is going into the process, and the process of staging this reading is supposed to help us learn how to ethically present work that may not be for us to present. I also thought it was great and relevant that most of the panelists were people of color. All of the works spoken about were difficult to present in their own ways, because the artists all poured extremely vulnerable parts of themselves into them, and a lot of them also carried political weight, as does O, Earth. The photographer’s (Tanisha’s) piece “Bathtub” was particularly moving, and responded to state-sanctioned violence against black people, and it was heavy with depression, anger, and grief. Another panelist, Nina, collected seven generations’ worth of archived material from her own family, and questioned whether she has a right to own those stories. This connects to our project as well, because as white cis people, I wonder if we and Casey Llewellyn should be telling the story of O, Earth. Finally, the last panelist brought up the question of whether or not work is worth doing if only two people see it. Are we still willing to put in the work of creating art if there’s a chance of there being no audience? I want to say yes, because if nothing else, O, Earth is a learning experience for us. Right now as I’m writing this on May 7th, our reading has not happened yet, and I do not doubt the marketing work that I have put into it, but perhaps it is worthwhile to consider our motivations behind staging this particular piece.

The second event that I want to talk about is a staged reading that I attended with Zeynep and Ruthie on March 27th at University Settlement downtown. It was done by Honest Accomplice Theatre, an organization that focuses on highlighting women and LGBTQ+ (specifically trans) issues. The reading, titled A Chip on Her Shoulder, was about women and trans people working in the engineering field, and how the experiences of these individuals are almost always erased and overshadowed by men. The script was devised entirely by members of Honest Accomplice Theatre in collaboration with playwright and director, Kristin Rose Kelly. I honestly didn’t feel like I really learned anything new about the experiences of the women being portrayed–a lot of the scenes were kind of like, well, yeah, that’s what happens in those environments. That’s not to say that workplace sexism is okay or acceptable, just that I wish they had found a way to present it in a more insightful manner. However, I did enjoy some of the individual scenes. One in particular that I liked centered around a black woman who was told that she couldn’t do something in the office because it was deemed too difficult for her, and she shot it down by saying that she used to play with tarantulas when she was younger, so she’s not afraid of anything. There were also several scenes about coming out at work, and how difficult it is to decide to do so. My favorite scene was probably one where the trans programmer of the company sent out a mass email to everyone announcing her new name and pronouns, and answering her coworker’s questions over email. She also included that since she is the company’s programmer, she took the liberty of changing all her work usernames to her new name and her pronouns to “she”, and everyone in the office was super supportive of her transition. Despite the reading being a bit bland, I did enjoy some aspects of it, and am glad that I attended it and got to learn about specific issues that trans individuals face in the engineering field.

Hello world!

Thank you for using Blogs@Baruch!

This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start publishing.

You are using a new WordPress theme that places widgets such as “Recent Posts,” “Recent Comments” and “Archives” in the footer, leaving you maximum space for publishing in this central area. If you prefer to have widgets on the right side of this page, these can be added by going to “Widgets” under the “Appearance” tab in your Dashboard. You can also choose from more than 100 other themes from the “Themes” menu in the Dashboard.