as many of you know, i have a play going up next week.
it is called hottentotted. click the link if you want to know more or get tickets.
it is a play about black women. it is a play about otherness. it is a play about gender and race. it is a play about pain and truths and histories held in bodies.
it is an imperfect play. it doesn't hold all, or nearly enough of, the experiences that black women have had. it is missing shades and layers and identities and voices. luckily, it is not a final draft. luckily, i see this play as ever changing. luckily, i am confident there will be productions in the future that hold more than what will go up next week.
but it holds some. it shares some.
it shares many voices and experiences and truths that the actresses and crew working with me have never gotten to share on stage before. it is a start.
i woke up thinking about the show--more specifically, i woke up thinking about our rehearsals.
often our rehearsals are a mixture of work and conversation. we often, for good or bad productivity-wise, find ourselves pausing. we pause because a line reminds us of something that happened. we pause because we have a question and that question leads us to reveal something else about ourselves. we pause because something was said in the news, something was said by a friend, something was said by a lover or a family member or a stranger, something was said that hurt us and we hadn't really thought of how it did until now. we pause to laugh. we pause to roll our eyes. we pause to shake our heads. we pause to share. we pause to dance. we pause to hug.
one of us shares a story, an experience, and someone across the room nods her head because she too has a similar story. and sometimes one of us shares a story that no one else has, but we hold it because we have felt something similar. we hold it because we know what it is like to walk around and feel out of place, feel watched, feel different, feel other.
more often than not, i am reminded how important it is to have a room filled with women of color, with black women, and how little i've had the opportunity in my life to be in such a room--especially in rehearsal rooms and theater spaces. i am reminded how important it is to be able to let something off your chest that you couldn't to other friends. how important it is to listen and be heard and to not fear saying too much, saying the truth. how important it is to feel like you don't have to censor--that disagreeing is okay because our different experiences are honored. how important it is to feel like you don't have to be the token in the room.
i am grateful every time i step into rehearsal, every time we go off on a tangent and our lovely director has to drag us back.
we say rehearsal is like therapy sometimes.
and as i've moved through the last few days, keeping up on the changes and executive orders happening around me, i've realized how grateful i am to have this therapy, how grateful i am to have women in my life who know some of the particular pains i carry, particular worries i carry, particular prejudices and imperfections i carry. how grateful i am that their activism makes me want to be more active. how grateful i am that their strength makes me want to be stronger. how grateful i am that their honesty makes me want to be more honest, their learning and teaching and growth makes me want to learn and to teach and to grow.
i am not one that really ever thinks my work is important (i have to work on this), but this show...this story...these women who bring it to life...they are so very important now. being able to express some of the anger and sadness and fear and confusion i feel with people who share some of my experiences...so important. work that acknowledges our experience, our existence, our history...work that doesn't hide us...work that shows that we matter...so fucking important. not only for others to see, but for us, the women in rehearsal, to see, to hear, to let it out.
back in november, i wrote to the cast and said how happy i was that i'd be starting the year with this work. that is even more true now.