working towards definition…

Anyone who has ever met me and held a conversation with me for more than 5 minutes knows of my passion for theatre, my love of the art. Anyone who has held a conversation with me in the last 2.5 years knows of my passion for sharing the art of theatre and creating theatre with as many varied communities/participants as I can. I come from a place in which I want to share my craft in a way that offers a new approach to personal expression through storytelling and theatre. I come from a place of deep reverence for the individual voice, as well as the collective. Perhaps, notably…I feel this way because I come from a place where many times I was told that my voice wasn’t valid. My choices and forms of expression were not good enough; where I was made to feel stupid for expressing my opinions in my own manner/style. It never occurred to me until this moment that this is precisely why I feel so strongly about encouraging others to have confidence in their voice and their choices. Mine have always been questioned: Are you sure you could work with at-risk teens, you just seem too happy? Seriously. As if being happy and casual in my demeanor and being serious about my work are mutually exclusive. I can’t possibly be serious if I have a smile on my face. I can’t possibly have anything important to say if I’m not expressing it in a scholarly and heady format. My energy, or effervescence (as I have been told) must obviously make me less able to be taken seriously.
As human beings we are constantly fighting against stereotypes….atleast the ones that we are placed into. It seems that we are perhaps less careful about those stereotypes that don’t directly affect us in some manner. Its so easy to look at the “other” that we are not and begin making assumptions and accusations about their person.
In my work and in my life I am going to make every attempt to be open-minded and accepting of others. I will make conscious choices to not act on the stereotypes I see played before me everyday, because underneath whatever quick assumptions I may make about someone (which are completely steeped in MY history and MY baggage), there lies a person. A person who deserves to be heard. A person, that if another person gave them the opportunity, the time of day, the genuine thought and care…would share what is truly inside of them. And who knows…I may or may not like what it is that I hear or witness…regardless…it has validity. It comes from a place that is real.
Bringing the conversation back around to my demeanor and presentation as an artist/facilitator in relation to these thoughts:
…if I so earnestly believe in being yourself, following your heart, believing in YOUR voice, and expressing yourself…wouldn’t I be a hypocrite to not do so in my work? Because, essentially, I feel like I am often being asked to mask who I am and my personality in order to be taken more “seriously” in this line of work…dress this way, don’t smile so much…I WILL not. I will be me. I will be me that loves what I do, passionately fights for the things I believe in, and puts serious thought into every aspect of my work. I will be all of that, in this package. I AM all of that in this package.