I Am Not Who I Was 10 Years Ago, Or 10 Minutes Ago. I Am All Of That And Then Some
It's been a long couple of months. I have had the terrible honor of being super busy with theatre goings-ons, and my schedule over the next few months isn’t any easier. (Check out the home page to keep updated on my projects.) After taking a performance hiatus in the month of December, I have been going virtually every day since. My first performance this year was The Colored Museum. This was an excellent show that was directed by my friend Di’Monte Henning. He has created a dynamic new performance art company called Lights! Camera! Soul!. I was able to work with some young performers that I have never worked with before. This, coming right before February, or , Black History Month, was very appropriate. We were able to engage in healthy and passionate discussions about our black history, our black present, and our black future. I loved having these conversations, and I loved working with these young people. (Let me clarify—these young adults are currently traditionally aged college students attending Marquette and UWM theatre programs. I graduated from undergrad while these kids were graduating from elementary school. I’m grown.) One of the best things about that experience was to see their drive, their passion, and their tenacity to discover and cultivate their art. Not that I lost my passion for theatre, but it’s nice to see new passion to reignite that flame.
**I am not who I was 10 years ago. Or 10 minutes ago. I am all of that and then some. And while I can't live inside yesterday's pain, I can't live without it.**
This past year has been full of projects that catch me by surprise. I still think about HAIR, and how before that it had been years since I felt that “Post Theatrical Show Depression” or PTSD. (Is that appropriate? It’s what I’ve called it for years.) Legally Blonde took me by surprise. I didn’t think I would like that show at all, and now playing Elle is on my Dreamy Dreams bucket list (a list of roles I would never get to play in real life, but I know I could rock it if someone gave me a chance. (Although, I know the musical Legally Black would be a totally different and way more *real* show.)) Freedom High was a show that taught me a lot about the struggles of our black activists and white allies and how the fight for equality—for all disenfranchised groups—is still a very real struggle. The Colored Museum—telling our story from our perspective is very important. While the show was written in the mid-80’s, there are still the same issues that resonate today. Same story, different storyteller.
And now I’m working on Bare: A Pop Opera. I love my gay friends. I am an advocate and an ally. This story is so very important to the young people who continue to struggle with coming out, acceptance and tolerance. It’s a show that means well. It’s not the best written, but you understand what the message is. We’ve had several reviewers come in and review the show. I understand that reviews are just one person’s opinion, and they should be taken with a grain of salt. However, there was one reviewer who said this play wasn’t important. He said:
“But the whole evening seemed like something we, as a society, has moved well past. Being gay in America just doesn’t seem like that big a deal anymore. I mean hardly anyone cares anymore, except for the wacko fringe element of society. Like high schoolers always do, this play makes a bigger deal out of this conflict than it deserves. I suppose if I was a closeted 16-year-old boy, this play might resonate and have some meaning for me. But I’m not. And it doesn’t.”
My problem with this statement isn’t the fact that he doesn’t like the show. That’s fine. That’s his opinion. And like I said, reviews are one person’s opinion. But for him to dismiss this issue like it’s a solved problem is as ignorant as saying “racism is over because we have a black president.” He is exactly the reason that this show needs to exist, and why this story needs to be told. I hope he sees the danger in what he wrote and is able to at least understand that because it’s not a problem for him doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.
I want to end this on a positive note. In an effort to keep up my #PoorMe #SuccessProblems, here’s a little something. Poor Me! I thought I would have a week off of rehearsals between this show and my next show. We are still running Bare through March 1st, but I started rehearsals for my next project last night. Opening weekend into the next rehearsal. #PoorMe! Gotta get those pay checks, though.