May 26, 2011

To Do, To Watch, To Go

Looks like June's going to be a busy month. Lots to do, watch, and go to.

I'm going to do my best to see Flux Theatre Ensemble's Ajax in Iraq as well as BOTH of Nosedive's works:  Captain Moonbeam & Lynchpin/Savior and Freaks from the Morgue. I could do worse with my money (like see some summer blockbuster film that I know will be terrible *cough*Green Lantern*cough*).

In the meantime, Mom will be coming to NYC with my uncle and her friend. We're going to the Bronx Zoo. Shut up.

May 23, 2011

I have to say this because I can't not say it anymore

Someone said something to me about That Conversation that really clicked. It was one of those moments when I see something I experience and realize that what happens is not my fault. To paraphrase, that person said, "You know how no matter what you say White people always think you're yelling at them?"

As soon as I heard that, a huge fog about many things I've been stewing on suddenly lifted, and something very important became clear: I am not the problem.

I usually keep things like this to myself (although recently I've been trying to break out of that habit), but with the show coming up and many of the things I've been involved with this week, as well as things that have happened to me and are going on in the world today, staying silent is self-destructive.

There's this pattern of behavior I notice in White men that really has to stop. It goes like this:

  • I say something critiquing or poking fun at White privilege, male privilege, and/or straight privilege.
  • White man decides that I'm hostile and angry and personally attacking him - as though he knows me and my thoughts/feelings/beliefs better than I do. And certainly those feelings matter less than his own because Black women are (to coin a phrase) "rhino-hided she-beasts" until proven otherwise.
  • White man decides to verbally put me in my place by attacking my intelligence, my sanity, or my morality - as though I must be stupid/crazy/evil to say what I say. They have learned the lesson very well - Black women are intellectually and morally inferior.
  • I shut up and keep my pain to myself because it's no use talking to the person who does this. I've been trained very well and know that I am supposed to remain silent in the face of White/male anger and disapproval.
  • The person who does this walks away with no clue how fucked up this whole thing is. They too have been trained very well and know that there's no point listening to that Angry Militant Black Bitch about anything.
I'd just like to say, to make it clear:


It's racist and sexist. I tried not taking it personally. I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt. But you know what? It is personal, and there is no defending or excusing it. I don't care who are, who you vote for, who you're friends with, who you work for, who you studied, or who you're fucking - this behavior is racist and sexist. And if you see this happening and you sit by and watch and not say or do anything, you may as well be agreeing with it.

I am not Mammy. I am not Sapphire. I am not Jezebel. Just because I'm not mothering or fucking you does not mean I'm trying to castrate you. For real, I have better things to do with my time than to deliberately go out of my way for the express purpose of making you feel bad. Will I sugarcoat my exasperation at your ignorance and apathy? No. You need to know what your shit does to people like me.

I tell you because I want to believe you're a decent person and that you care about not doing racist, sexist things. If you can't see that my telling you when you're fucking up is not about hating you, but about still having hope that you're a decent human being - then that's your shit, not mine. So stop putting your shit on me and acting like I'm the one stinking up the place.

To recap:


And tell me you're sorry if you have. Yeah, I know you don't think you did anything wrong, but it lets me know you're not a calloused asshole.

May 22, 2011

I drink the Tumblr Kool-Aid

I know, I know - joining the herd. But you gotta do what you gotta do to get butts in seats (and find a way to make yourself useful).

Check out the Tumblr for Tulpa, or Anne&Me at There's already all kinds of good stuff there, like:

Tulpa, or Anne&Me will be playing at the Robert Moss Theater (440 Studios) on June 2 at 6pm, June 3 at 4pm, June 16 at 8pm, and June 19 at 8:15pm.

You can buy your tickets now by going to

Each show will be followed by a brief post-show discussion. Please come, watch, and share.

If you can’t make it to the show, consider supporting Tulpa by donating the price of a ticket to Crossroads Theatre Project by visiting or clicking the Fractured Atlas button below:

Support "Tulpa, or Anne&Me" by clicking this button and contributing the cost of one ticket.

May 14, 2011

QBWL poiesis: queer space and black space

I've been away from this project for a while, namely because I haven't had much time (for reasons you know very well from reading this blog). The other reason is that I simply hadn't been doing enough theatre to remark on it. But now that I'm in practicing mode, I can talk about it more freely.

It's been a few months, so let me recap. The "poiesis" label has all the relevant posts, but for the scroll-phobic, here's an overview. Feel free to refer to them and to force me to focus on what I meant to do. It's really easy for me to get trapped in theory when I'm trying to create a guide for practice.

"Big projects for 2011" outlines the gist of what my queer Black womanist liberation poiesis is about and what I'm trying to do with it.

"Why should you give a shit what queer Black women have to say?" is basically me trying to justify my efforts.

"Why queer Black womanist liberation poiesis matters to straight White guys doing theatre" looks at the benefits for even it's "natural enemies." Scarequotes on purpose because, despite what some people seem to believe, it's not about the Scary Black Dykes coming to cut off White men's penises.

"Dog Act and the power of naming" gets into identifying voice as the primary element of QWBL theatre by using Flux Theatre Ensemble's Dog Act as its case study.

"Voice, critique, and QBWL poiesis" springs off the Dog Act post to start looking at ways to critically engage with a piece without relying on the concept of picking apart what is good and bad about a piece.

"QBWL poiesis and Buber's I and Thou" explores how QBWL poiesis can be a powerful way of practicing the I-You relationship, which is incapable of domination, objectification, or dehumanization.

With those posts in mind, let me get into the next thing I wanted to explore.

A lot about this QBWL poiesis is about how we position ourselves and others in our own narratives. As such, space becomes another vital concept. While in previous posts I tended to lump that into voice, I now think that is an error. Looking back on it, I'd characterize voice as the What and space as the Where/When. Naturally, this is not set in stone. This framework is not about establishing rigid categories, but for the sake of understanding, a bit more precision is desirable.

This, in my mind, ties into the queerness of a QBWL poiesis. As suggested in this post, the main trait of queerness is how it occupies - or rather, embodies - a fluid space. It resists pre-defined positions and embraces paradox. It reveals the illusions of boundaries within and between Self-Other. When I talk about queering space or coming from a queer space, I'm talking about approaching understanding physical and conceptual structures this way.

Queering space is about naming and exploring boundaries. Where do the boundaries of a piece lie? Where are they transgressed? What maintains the boundaries? How are they crossed? How does that manifest? Who or what creates the boundaries? Why are they there in the first place?

The boundaries a queer space explores exist not only within a piece, but outside it as well. Part of what makes a piece like Tulpa, or Anne&Me so powerful for the people who've seen it is that it reflects and confronts the boundaries we carry with us outside the play.

In more particular terms, queer space also challenges what we've come to assume is true about gender and sexuality. It's not just who we are and what we like, but how we are and/or like those things.

Yet, while a QBWL poiesis stands firmly in a queer space (inasmuch as anything queer can be fixed), it is also a Black space.

Here it might be useful to explain - at least insofar as I am able - the associations I make with Blackness. For me, Blackness is not just a color or culture. It is a sense of the center of things. It's about our origins, the source from which we emerge and express. It's the fertile soil that gives birth to us. When I talk about a Black space, I mean understanding from a sense of where we come from.

As part of the Where We Come From, this poiesis is rooted in the African diaspora experience. As such, it operates on diunital cognition (both-and) rather than dichotomous cognition (either-or). The direction is parallel, rather than perpendicular or hierarchical. Naturally, the reality is more nuanced and complex than this definition, but I will say that this difference in ways of thinking is, in my experience, very real and often a source of conflict when that difference is not named or acknowledged.

Of course, there is also a feminine space, but I haven't given it as much thought, so I can't talk about how it fits at the moment. My intuition is that feminine space is related to how we create the space itself, but that's neither here nor there right now.

Let's give this framework a shape. A circle is rather fitting. Queerness would be the ever-shifting circumference, and Blackness would be the point at the center.

A more accurate visualization would be a sphere with a core of dark matter emanating colors that shift amorphously in all directions. In two-dimensional terms, however, picture it as a circle with a dark point at the center, with various colors and shades occupying the space in between.

May 12, 2011

"I just . . . do things!"

Over at the Greener Room, I talk about paperless marketing for Tulpa, or Anne&Me. Although the word count limit didn't let me get into much detail, I think it's worth starting a discussion about asking questions about why we just . . . do some things.

This ties in neatly with the discussion happening at #2amt, we're talking about empowering people to bring innovative ideas and approaches to doing things. Of course, many of us may see the irony in that, since as theatre artists so much of what we do is about pushing artistic boundaries and challenging assumptions about what good theatre is. Nevertheless, when it comes to everything else we do in theatre, we often fall back on habitual ways of doing things - even if those ways simply don't work for us (here I'm imagining Adam Thurman sagely nodding his head and saying, "Exactly.").

Rather than agonizing over ways to convince other theatre artists that a different approach is worth doing, I think it's a lot more interesting and productive to encourage each other to ask questions. Not in a "We must get to the bottom of this!" sort of way but a "What's going on?" sort of way. TCG is doing that with their "What if . . . ?"

But we can also do that on our own and ask our own questions. For example: When we're putting on a show, what are some things we just . . . do? What would happen if we simply didn't . . . do? What would we be doing instead if we didn't or couldn't . . . do?

May 4, 2011

Come see "Tulpa, or Anne&Me" at Planet Connections Theatre Festivity

Image designed by Chris Tyler

Just in case you forgot (not like I think you would), here's some info for the upcoming production of Tulpa, or Anne&Me at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Tickets are on sale now and are only $18.

We're at the Robert Moss Theater (440 Lafayette Street, Manhattan - right off the 6 train at Astor Place) on June 2 at 6pm, June 3 at 4pm, June 16 at 8pm, and June 19 at 8:15pm. The shows on June 2, 3, and 16 will have a post-show discussion.

[Name]: Starr Kirkland
Anne: Rachel Lambert
Guardian Angel of Blackness #1: Mia Y. Anderson
Guardian Angel of Blackness #2: Ayo Cummings

Assistant Director: Alexa Gruber

Set and Lights: Lauren Bremen
Marketing and Publicity: Chris Tyler
Video: Brianne Mueller and Phil Kegley

The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond for the moral and practical support.

Ubiquitous Roots Productions for the space.

I really want to check out Disenchanted and White House Wives: Operation Lysistrata. Anybody else gonna be there?

And follow the main character of Tulpa, or Anne&Me on Twitter! She's Afrodyke!

BTW, pass around the e-card to a friend (or ten).

May 3, 2011

reflections on narrative

(SCENE: Cyberspace. Electricity flashes like many strobelights, as do many electronic images.)

Enter SELF #1. Devo's "Smart Patrol" starts playing. SELF #1 lip-synchs while playing air guitar and dancing like a jerk.

Enter SELF #2 pushing a baby doll in a stroller. She tries to feed it baby food.

SELF #2: C'mon, sweetheart, eat your spinach.

SELF #1: (singing) Understands my potato . . .

Enter SELF #3 wearing a trench coat. She squats on the stage and relieves herself.

SELF #2 keeps trying to feed the doll and gets baby food all over the doll's face.

SELF #2: What's wrong, honey? Why won't you eat your spinach?

SELF #3: I hate you all!

SELF #1: (singing) Looking for the real tomato . . .

SELF #3 pulls out a really big gun and shoots the audience.

SELF #2 forcefully shoves spoonfuls of baby food onto the doll's face.

SELF #2: I said eat it, damnit! Stupid fucking thing! I should've left you where I found you!

She rips the baby doll from the stroller and hurls it into the audience.

SELF #1: (singing) We shot the balls in the hole . . .

Enter SELF #4.

SELF #4: What were you expecting? A story? A narrative? A plot line? Such primitive tools are crutches for the feeble. Cast yourself into the sea of non-sequitur. Liberate yourself from all desire to make any sense. (singing to Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime") You may ask yourself well how did I get here?

SELF #1 plays the hell out of that guitar solo with her air guitar.

SELF #4: (singing) You may ask yourself, what is that beautiful house? You may ask yourself, where does that highway lead to? You may ask yourself, am I right, am I wrong? You may ask yourself, my God what have I done?

SELF #1 hits SELF #4 in the head with the guitar.

SELF #4: (singing) Same as it ever was same as it ever was same as it ever was same as it ever was. Same as it ever was same as it ever was same as it ever was same as it ever was.

SELF #4 dies.

SELF #1: What is my motivation?

SELF #1 takes a bow. Exit SELF #1.

May 2, 2011

Watch this video - Gay in America: Color Lines Across Rainbow Skies

Xem Van Adams' Gay in America: Color Lines Across Rainbow Skies explores ethnic and racial divides in the LGBTQ community. It's a look at queerness that rarely get highlighted in mainstream media when it comes to LGBTQ people (who are always assumed to be affluent and White).

I love the emphasis on personal stories and reflections as opposed to a more academic or journalistic style. It humanizes the issues in ways that a more "objective" approach cannot.

May 1, 2011

on privilege in social justice circles

We have heard entirely too much from men about women and gender, from whites about people of color, from heterosexuals about lesbians and gays and sexual preference, and from economically over-privileged people about workers and the poor. Claiming to be able to adopt the critical persona of the Other in the name of her emancipation is unlikely to earn one the applause of the Other.
Sandra Harding, "Reinventing Ourselves as Other" (American Feminist Thought at Century's End: A Reader)