ART Quarterly Issue 1

Scroll for more

Page 1

QUARTERLY At the intersection of visual and performing arts

ISSUE 1 :: OCTOBER 2020

THE PREMIERE PORTLAND AREA ARTS QUARTERLY MAGAZINE


ART QUARTERLY

2


MISSION STATEMENT ART Quarterly—at the intersection of visual and performing arts. An ad-free publication that celebrates arts and highlights our diverse community of artists and audiences who take creative risks. Our mission is to build and support the vibrant arts community, in its multitude of forms, and delve into its interconnectivity with the performing arts. ART Quarterly will be an inclusive space to elevate artists’ stories through their craft or an in depth look at the artmaking process.

Cover photo credit Keith Sheffield. Photo credit Leslie Crandell Dawes

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

3


CONTENTS 6

ART Upcoming Events

7

Editor’s Note

10 Contributors to the ART Quarterly 14 From the Notebook of Dámaso Rodríguez

On My Ethnic, Racial, and Racialized Identity, or “Me llamo Dámaso Bernardo Rodríguez y García” by Dámaso Rodríguez

20 Featured Article Nobody’s Going to Fund This by Anthony Hudson

ART QUARTERLY

4


32 Theatre How-To The Work it Takes to Create Magic by Kristen Mun 42 Flower Joy by Vin Shambry 48 Speckling the White Artscape by DeReau Farrar 52 Do You See Me? by Emmanuel Henreid 58 When I Was Seventeen by Kisha Jarrett 62 Community Voices

Photo credit Keth Sheffield

68 Get Into the World

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

5


ISSUE 1 :: OCTOBER

A R T Q U A R T E R LY Staff PUBLISHER Kisha Jarrett kjarrett@artistsrep.org EDITOR Leslie Crandell Dawes ldawes@artistsrep.org ADVISOR Dámaso Rodríguez drodriguez@artistsrep.org ASSISTANT EDITOR Luan Schooler lschooler@artistsrep.org ASSISTANT EDITOR Christina DeYoung cdeyoung@artistsrep.org COPY EDITOR Charlotte Rubin crubin@artistsrep.org

ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE’S (ART) mission is to produce intimate, provocative theatre and provide a home for a diverse community of artists and audiences to take creative risks. Artists Rep believes that stories help us make sense of the world. However, it is hard to make any sense of the violent murders and unjust racist actions in this country. Our anger rises due to the inhuman disregard for Black lives and the persistence of systemic racism and we will work with urgency towards an organization in which safety and justice are a right for everyone and not default to what has always been done. ART gratefully acknowledges our theatre rests on the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River. Artists Repertory Theatre recognizes that we are a predominately white organization and operate within systemic racism and oppression, and that silence and neutrality are actions of complicity. We recognize the critical role the arts play in our culture and national conversation, and accept our responsibility to make positive change through our work, our practices, and our policies. We commit ourselves to the work of becoming an anti-racism and anti-oppression organization, and will work with urgency to end racial inequities in our industry and our culture. Led by Artistic Director Dámaso Rodríguez and Managing Director J.S. May, ART (est. 1982) is Portland’s oldest professional theatre company and has become a significant presence in the U.S. regional theatre with a legacy of world, national, and regional premieres of provocative new work with the highest standards of stagecraft. In 2016, ART became the 72nd member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) and is an Associate Member of the National New Play Network (NNPN). Plays developed by ART have subsequently been produced in New York, Chicago, London, and throughout the country. Recognition for ART commissioned plays includes the Dramatists Guild Foundation Award, the Edgerton New Play Award, NEA Funding, the Mellon Foundation National Playwright Residency Program, American Theatre Magazine’s Most-Produced Plays, and coverage in the New Yorker and the New York Times.

ART EVENTS 2020 Magellanica by E.M. Lewis Audio drama Forget Me Not, America by Josie Seid Short film Better Maybe by Caridad Svich Short film 2021 The Berlin Diaries by Andrea Stolowitz Audio drama Today is My Birthday by Susan Soon He Stanton Audio drama Drop the Mic A Back Fence PDX + ART Storytelling podcast Flower Joy by Vin Shambry Multi-media The Carlalogues by Anthony Hudson Audio play Nobody’s going to fund this by Anthony Hudson Audio play See Me A DNA: Oxygen Short film

TABLE|ROOM|STAGE (T|R|S), established in 2015, is Artists Rep’s new work program. The T|R|S mission is to develop and produce new work that vividly expresses Artists Rep’s aesthetic values. T|R|S focuses and offers work by BIPOC writers, women, LGBTQIA+ and gender nonconforming writers, and offer an environment where these playwrights can create provocative, intimate new theatre pieces that challenge, illuminate, and inspire. Through T|R|S, Artists Rep is an Associate Member of the National New Play Network (NNPN). Information about Artists Rep’s 2020/21 season is found at artistsrep.org Copyright © 2020 ART Quarterly Magazine. All rights reserved.

ART QUARTERLY

6

ART QUARTERLY MAGAZINE 3121 S MOODY AVE. PORTLAND, OR 97273 503.241.1278


L E T T E R F RO M T HE E D I T O R

EMAIL: LDAWES@ARTISTSREP.ORG FOLLOW: @ARTISTSREP FEEDBACK: ARTQUARTERLY@ARTISTSREP.ORG

O

ctober 2020. Welcome to the inaugural issue of ART Quarterly, a place for artists of all disciplines to share thoughts and ideas about their craft. The ART Quarterly pages are filled with people that dug deep into their artistic hearts to share their passion and love for the creative space. It’s a chance to bridge the gap between the artist and you, dear readers, by providing a peek behind the curtain of the myriad artforms you love.

Photo provided by the author.

March 13, 2020. The day before our annual fundraising Gala and two weeks away from announcing our 2020-21 season. The world, and subsequently the theatre world as we know it, shut down for the foreseeable future. Our purpose as a theatre organization came to a grinding halt and we were left with the question, what now? We would need to find a different way to perform. We would need to find a different way to work. We need to find a different way to … connect. As the weeks went by and traditional in-person theatre was unlikely to return soon, we started to plan. During a meeting with our Marketing Director, I mentioned how disappointed I was that our playbills for next season were not needed. You see, we had re-imagined the ART playbill in the previous season. We made it content rich — an informative resource for patrons to enjoy before the show started and at home, long after the lights went down. It was our way of connecting the work to the audience. But without live productions there was no need for the deep dive, no need to bring the articles to life. The idea of a magazine was borne from the desire to build relationships between artists and audiences during our time apart. To build an even stronger connection to our performers when there is no audience.

May 25, 2020. The day the world heard “I can’t breathe!” Three words that echoed and resonated through communities around the world. The day marked a change in what was being called a product of systemic racism into the revolution for real progress toward equality for Black, Indingenous, and People of Color. It became ever so clear that change happens by first acknowledging that change is needed. The need and desire for more conversation. And as a Latina, I knew that in order for our voices to be heard we needed to start the conversation. This first issue of the ART Quarterly is giving space to our BIPOC community to share their art, their work, their stories. I hope you enjoy the stories and art inside. These stories are written by and created for people like you and me. Welcome, my friends, to ART Quarterly.

Leslie Crandell Dawes Editor P.S. While you will find entertaining, challenging, and enlightening content on the pages, what you won’t find is advertising. The ART Quarterly is made possible because of three generous donors without which this magazine would not have come to fruition. However, sponsorship alone will not sustain the magazine. Subscriber support helps us pay our contributors for their work. By becoming a Subscriber Member to Artists Repertory Theatre you will receive the ART Quarterly as a member benefit. An individual subscription to ART Quarterly allows us to keep producing the kind of highquality content you find in these pages today.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

7


ART QUARTERLY

8


Photo credit Keith Sheffield

“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” – Ijeoma Oluo

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

9


C ONT RIBU TORS

Leslie Crandell Dawes

Editor, ART Quarterly, Portland, OR

Leslie Crandell Dawes is the Audience Development and Marketing Manager at Artists Repertory Theatre as well as a sound designer, sound engineer, live board operator, and set designer. A California native, she has hopped back and forth between the coasts, but now calls Portland, Oregon home. Her favorite productions as a designer include, Rent, Next to Normal, Steel Magnolias, Peter and the Starcatcher, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Honk!, Jr. (Theatre in the Grove). When she’s not working at ART, you can find her making jewelry, gardening, or chasing after her four kids.

Dámaso Rodríguez

Artistic Director, ART, Portland, OR

Dámaso Rodríguez is in his eighth season as Artistic Director of Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland’s longest-running professional theatre company, which became a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) under his leadership. Plays developed during his tenure have been produced in New York, Chicago, London, and throughout the U.S. Acclaim for Artists Rep developed projects includes the Dramatists Guild Foundation Award, the Edgerton New Play Award, NEA Funding, American Theatre Magazine’s Most Produced Plays list, and coverage in the New Yorker and the New York Times. He is a Co-Founder of L.A.’s Furious Theatre, where he served as Co-Artistic Director from 20012012 (named to LA Weekly’s “Best Theatres of the Decade” list). From 2007-2010 he served as Associate Artistic Director of the Pasadena Playhouse, where he directed main stage productions and oversaw programming for the Playhouse’s second stage, including its Hothouse New Play Development Program. He has directed a broad range of new and classic plays including over 20 Artists Rep productions, along with work at South Coast Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theater, Seattle Rep, Intiman Theatre, A Noise Within, The Playwrights’ Center, New Dramatists, The New Harmony Project, The Theatre@Boston Court, Pasadena Playhouse, and Furious Theatre. Dámaso is a recipient of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, the Back Stage Garland Award, the NAACP Theatre Award, and the Pasadena Arts Council’s Gold Crown Award. He was honored as a Finalist for the Zelda Fichandler Award by the Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation and was named a Knowledge Universe Rising Star by Portland Monthly. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and serves on the faculty of the The Actors Conservatory. Current directing projects: Magellanica (Audio Drama) by E.M. Lewis, The Berlin Diaries (Audio Drama) by Andrea Stolowitz for Artists Rep; The Great Divide by E.M. Lewis in development at Artists Rep/Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Anthony Hudson

Performer and Writer, Portland, OR

Anthony Hudson (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) is a multidisciplinary artist, writer, performer, and filmmaker perhaps best known as CARLA ROSSI, an immortal trickster whose attempts at realness almost always result in fantastic failure. Together they host and program Queer Horror – the only ongoing LGBTQ+ horror screening series in the United States – bimonthly at the historic Hollywood Theatre. Anthony was named a 2018 National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, a 2018 Western Arts Alliance Native Launchpad Artist, and a 2019 Oregon Arts Commission Artist Fellow. Recent works: Up Her Ass (Reed College), Clown Down: Failed to Mount (PNCA), Girl with a Cigarette (Portland Art Museum), and Looking for Tiger Lily (solo) in Australia, Canada, and more. Anthony also co-hosts the weekly queer horror podcast Gaylords of Darkness with Stacie Ponder. Looking for Tiger Lily will be Anthony’s first professionally produced play(!) More at TheCarlaRossi.com.

Kristen Mun

Stage Manager and Writer, Portland, OR

Kristen Mun was born and raised on the island of Oahu and has worked as a fight choreographer, stage manager, and teacher in the Portland theater community for the past eight years. She graduated with a B.F.A. from Southern Oregon University and has worked professionally with Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, Third Rail Repertory Theatre, Profile Theatre, Defunkt Theatre, and many more. She has been recognized for her fight choreography four times by the Portland Drammy’s and is a proud AEA stage manager.

ART QUARTERLY

10


Vin Shambry

Actor and Writer, Portland, OR

Vin Shambry is a published writer, acclaimed storyteller, international actor, and Director. Before returning home to Portland, Vin performed on Broadway as Tom Collins in Rent and John in Miss Saigon, and toured nationally with Rent and Miss Saigon. His writing is in the new book Occasional Magic: True Stories about Defying the Impossible, which he also performed at Portland’s historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Additionally, his performative, original writing was featured in April Baer’s State of Wonder on Oregon Public Broadcasting radio. Vin toured and performed with the US State Department Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Arts Envoy trip to Egypt (2019) and will be returning in 2020 to develop a new bi-lingual cross cultural music and theatre performance with the support of the US Embassy Cairo.

DeReau Farrar

Music Director and Writer, Portland, OR

DeReau K. Farrar is Director of Music at First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon; President of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries; and a member of the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Advisory Team. He has previously served on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Commission on Institutional Change; as Director of Music for Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica, California; Choir Director for First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, California; Music Teacher for New Roads School, Santa Monica, California; Founding Artistic Director of Selah Gospel Choir in Pasadena, California; Associate Director of Music for Scott United Methodist Church in Pasadena, California; and Assistant Conductor for The Verdi Chorus, Santa Monica, California. Prior to leaving Los Angeles for Portland in 2016, DeReau worked as a freelance music director and vocal contractor within the theater/opera/orchestra (appearing regularly with MUSE/IQUE Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena, California; A Noise Within Theater, Pasadena, California; and California State University, Los Angeles, California); film (most recently HBO’s All the Way - 2016 and Jordan Peele’s Get Out - 2017), music recording, and music touring industries. Before committing his career to full-time music direction, DeReau performed as an international classical singer (bass-baritone) with appearances most recently with Los Angeles Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and The Hollywood Bowl. https://www.uua.org/offices/people/dereau-k-farrar

Emmanuel Henreid

Opera Singer, Portland, OR

Emmanuel “Onry” Henreid is a singer, dancer, actor, and pianist based in Portland, Oregon. He studied music in Ukraine and Moldova and has performed throughout the US and Europe. He’s toured with Lyle Lovett, been a soloist with The Maui Chamber Orchestra and Oregon Symphony, and performed with American Repertory Theater and Portland Opera Company. Some of his notable performances include the Black Clown, Madame Butterfly, Sanctuaries, African American Requiem, Show Boat, Carmen, Faust, The Big Night, La Traviata, Pirates of Penzance, and Hairspray. Onry is a member of the artist collective Future Prairie and serves on the board of African American Requiem with the Oregon Symphony. He is also on the Arts and Music Board of Kings School in Seattle, Washington, and the board of Active Space, a creative studio for people of color in Portland, Oregon. Outside of music, Onry enjoys community organizing work, philosophy, linguistics, traveling, tea, collecting vinyl records, and spending quality time with friends and family. https://www.onrymusic.com

Kisha Jarrett

Writer and Actor, Portland, OR

Kisha Jarrett is the Development and Marketing Director at Artists Repertory Theatre as well as a writer, actor, musician, director, and storyteller. A Virginia native, she has lived all over the country (as well as Barcelona and London) but now calls Portland, Oregon home. She has performed for both stage and screen, been a musician at SXSW, and has been a costume designer for the stage and television. She owned and operated the bakery Painted Lady Cakes in Brooklyn. Through storytelling, she has performed for the Moth (2017 and 2018 GrandSLAM winner), Back Fence PDX, Seven Deadly Sins, Wildfang, and more. Most recently, she was seen onstage at Portland Center Stage @ The Armory as the Headmistress in School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play. Currently, she is working on her second feature-length screenplay and writing her first novel.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

11


C ONT RIBU TORS

Cassandra Pangelinan

Actor, Portland, OR

Cassandra Pangelinan is a local actor and early childhood education teacher based in Portland. Some recent credits include being part of the Mini-Musical Festival with Live Onstage (for the third year in a row), playing Columbia in Enlightened Theatrics production of The Rocky Horror Show, as well as playing Urleen in Broadway Rose’s production of Footloose. Cassandra has classical vocal training from her studies at Linfield College, and was a featured vocalist in the Linfield Concert Choir and the Linfield Opera Workshop program. More than ever, Cassandra believes that Black Lives Matter.

Keith Sheffield

Photographer, Portland, OR

I’m jack-of-all trades photographer. I can tell a story with pictures. I love hunting for that epic landscape shot. Sharing the awesome power of nature is what gets me exploring the outdoors. And there’s nothing more challenging than engaging another human through photography.

Lava Alapai

Director and Photographer, Portland, OR

Photo Credit Keith Sheffield

Lava is originally from Okinawa, Japan and grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii where she learned the art of Bunraku puppetry. She graduated with an MFA in acting from California Institute of the Arts and has been creating theatre in Portland for more than a decade. Credits include design and acting work for Portland Playhouse, defunkt theatre, Tears of Joy Theatre and Many Hats Collaboration, among others. Directing credits include School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play , The Revolutionists, and An Octoroon (Artists Repertory Theatre), Columbinus, Charlotte’s Web, and Locomotion (Oregon Children’s Theatre), and staged readings for Profile Theatre and Playwrights West. She is an associate member of the Stage Directors & Choreographers Society (SDC). Visit www.lavaalapai.com to see Lava’s work as a photographer.

ART QUARTERLY

12


A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

13


A

s the Artistic Director of ART, I’m frequently called upon to write…fundraising letters, grant proposals, playbill messages, etc. in which you’ll seldom hear much about me. My job is most often to introduce and champion the artists whose work we are producing, promoting, or funding. As a director, I strive to be invisible in my direction, or to create the illusion of chaos, and that the events of the play are happening spontaneously without a controlling hand. ART Quarterly, with its mission to lift up the personal stories of Portland artists, is different. I’m tasked with revealing something about myself. I’m not comfortable with it, but that’s entirely appropriate for an inaugural issue inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and the overdue racial reckoning that’s charging theatres like ART, and other predominantly white institutions, to examine themselves and sit in the discomfort caused by acknowledging racism, bias, privilege, and the intractable role each plays in the choices we make. Preface or Epilogue: Scene in a Starbucks… When I place an order for coffee, I always use the alias, “Joe.” ART QUARTERLY

14

I’m extremely proud of my name, “Dámaso” (pronounced DAHmah-soh). Friends know that I’m the seventh generation, and my son the eighth, in a continuous line of namesakes. Our names are a link to generations of family history, hardship, sacrifice, strength, and love. I’ve resisted a lifetime of immediate requests for me to offer a nickname when I meet new acquaintances, classmates, teachers, employers, etc. It’s not a common name, even in Spanish-speaking countries. When asked my name, I will be asked immediately to repeat it. It will continue to be mispronounced by colleagues for days or months, or they will avoid saying my name out of fear of making a mistake. I’m patient while folks make an effort to get confident saying it. However, I decided many years ago not to invest that energy when ordering coffee or putting my name on a restaurant waiting list, so…the name on the order is “Joe”. Last year, I was in Miami at the Intercontinental Hotel, where the Theatre Communications Group National Conference was held. I stopped by Starbucks and placed my order. They didn’t ask for my name (I suppose they got it from the credit card I used for payment). I waited for my breakfast sandwich and coffee at a table. A few minutes later I was

Photo credit Lava Alapai

ON MY ETHNIC, RACIAL, AND RACIALIZED IDENTITY, or ME LLAMO DÁMASO BERNARDO RODRÍGUEZ Y GARCÍA


I am of the first generation in my family born a U.S. citizen

shocked to hear my name called loudly, and pronounced correctly (even with Spanish inflection). It was so jarring that I looked around the room absurdly as if someone else might have noticed. The prosaic act of being called up to the counter as myself had become a major event. I’d never heard my name called out in public, by a stranger. Can that be true? Somehow, yes. Later that day, I went back for another coffee and the woman working at the register said to me in Spanish, “And you like it without cream and sugar.” I said, “Oh, you remember me?” She began to explain that her neighbor, a close family friend, was named “Dámaso” and that sadly he had recently passed away. We held up the long line talking about him. She shared that he had suffered greatly in the end, and that she had helped to care for him. She said she missed him very much. She said she could see him in me.

N

ot many people in our Portland theatre community know that I became a director because I was not able to get auditions as an actor for English-language work, and I was pressured to change my name, for years. I remember sitting with my grandfather and father as I was about to embark on an acting career while they brainstormed how to change our name to a white-sounding one with a faint resemblance to something on our family tree. “Don Mayo” and “Dan Jordan” were the frontrunners. I never seriously considered it, but they knew what I was up against. In the 1990s and early 2000s, living in Chicago and Los Angeles, I could rarely get film or television auditions for English-language work. I only worked in Spanish or with an accent (several industrial training films, two SAG commercials, and a recurring role on a Telemundo sitcom that got canceled before I had the chance to reprise my role). In professional theatre, I was only ever called in to audition for Latino roles. The breaking point that moved me to abandon acting was a Spanish-language commercial that I booked for McDonald’s. I arrived on the set to discover that there were two casts (the white cast and the brown cast…the English speakers and the Spanish speakers). We would tag out between close-ups, each cast performing their “bite and smiles” before spitting out our Big Macs on the director’s “cut!” This is where the systemic

racism of our field became stunningly clear to me. My frustration was that I had not been invited to audition for the English version of the commercial, which would have been distributed nationally and paid tens of thousands of dollars more. In my naïve (or idealistic) mind, my castmates and I had the added special skill of being bilingual and should have been in both commercials. I was angry and disillusioned. I was impatient then. I didn’t see an achievable career for me as an actor. There would be too many obstacles associated with what I now understand to be my racialized identity, and I couldn’t live with changing my name. I impulsively made the strategic decision to stop acting and become a director as a way to better my chances of a career. Twenty years later, after building an accomplished record as a director and artistic director with nearly 100 productions to my credit, if I think too long about the choice I made, or even attempt to talk about it, I become quickly triggered and filled with emotion. Trauma can hide behind success. I am a U.S. born Cuban American. I am Latino. I am Hispanic. I am part of the Latinx population. I am a member of the BIPOC community. Both of my parents were born in Havana, Cuba and I am of the first generation in my family born a U.S. citizen. My parents, grandparents, and most of my extended family, emigrated to the U.S. as refugees in the decades following Fidel Castro’s declaration that Cuba would become a communist state. I have family members that are DominicanAmerican, Puerto Rican, and Mexican. I am bilingual. I only ever communicated with my grandparents in Spanish. I have always felt comfortable with, confident in, and proud of my heritage despite a lifetime of seemingly casual, probing questions attempting to diminish my authenticity. I am never more at peace or at home than in a room full of Latinx people. To my relief, during my only trip to Cuba (in 2015), I never once felt out of place, or that my physical appearance was unusual or confusing. I felt a profound sense of belonging, of roots. I have lighter skin than many Latinx people, brown hair, and European features. If I were a Cuban citizen, I would fill out “white” on a

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

15


When I was a child my parents moved us to Dallas, Texas, and away from the Cuban American community in Miami. I occasionally mourn the loss of not being raised in a majorityLatinx environment.

ART QUARTERLY

16


census form. In this country, however, I am not part of the white majority. For most of my lifetime, I knew myself to be part of a seemingly monolithic group called “Hispanics” alongside other non-members of the dominant culture. As long as I can remember, I understood myself to be “a minority” or what we are now calling a “person of color.” I acknowledge that my physical appearance has always afforded me privileges not granted to most Latinx people and members of BIPOC communities. I don’t fear for my life if pulled over in a traffic stop. I’m not followed in stores when shopping. I can jog in my neighborhood any time I like without considering the consequences. I often have the privilege of controlling whether or not, and how, I reveal my racialized identity to you. Until I’m forced to introduce myself to you, or you read my name on a resume or playbill, I have the privilege of being white. I’m also aware of the fact that once some folks know my name, hear me speak Spanish, learn about my upbringing, or if I speak about matters pertaining to racism and white supremacy, or refer to myself as Latino or a Person of Color, initial perceptions shift and biases are revealed. I’ve even been told by one person that I literally began “to look different” to them as they got to know me. I am asked quite often, so I’ll explain it here: Latino (or Latinx, the “x” includes all genders) is not a race. It is an ethnicity encompassing people from Latin American countries and people of Latin American origin living in the United States. Latino/a/x people (and Cubans specifically) are as racially diverse as the world itself. Colorism, anti-indigeneity and antiBlackness are an insidious part of Latin American and Caribbean society. Latinx identity is racialized in this country regardless of skin color, but privilege favors proximity to whiteness. When I was a child my parents moved us to Dallas, Texas, and away from the Cuban American community in Miami. I occasionally mourn the loss of not being raised in a majority-Latinx environment. Still, my world was expanded, and I went to public schools that had significant populations of Latinx, African-American, Asian-American, and South Asian-American students. I was surrounded by diversity in classes, sports, and in the school plays where I discovered my obsession with theatre and acting. In this environment, I was especially privileged. I was a top student and won a full scholarship to Texas A&M University, a predominantly white and Republican-majority campus—this was the time of “affirmative action” and I was the beneficiary of those diversity efforts. I assimilated especially well because of my physical appearance, and without the accent I surely would have developed had we stayed in

Miami. I have now spent most of my life living away from my roots, much of the time in large and relatively diverse cities like Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles before moving to Portland nearly eight years ago to lead Artists Rep, a predominantly white institution in the whitest major city in the country. I’ve been able to build a career, and eventually a living, as an artist of color (without the advantage of family wealth or an advanced degree) by sticking with it for nearly 25 years, and by being the beneficiary of extraordinary privilege. Could I have made it through the rigorous, eight-month interview process with darker skin? Without code switching? Could I have lasted eight years, overcome the shockingly quick skepticism I received in my first season and earned vital support from board members without skillful diplomacy, an always calm demeanor, and an easygoing collaborative style? Without the next undeniable accomplishment? The statistics suggest probably not. I am one of only several artists of color leading a LORT theatre (that’s the League of Resident Theatres)—just a few years ago, I was one of only four. I’ve been told I am the first Latinx artistic director to run a LORT theatre, and I might only claim this credit because ART became a member under my tenure. I’ve become skilled at working and advancing within the white-biased system of the American Regional Theatre and its precarious and problematic funding model, while trying to affect incremental changes and hold open the door for other artists of color. I was readied for this work thanks to gate-busting opportunity and mentorship from two artistic directors of color: Julia Rodriguez-Elliott of A Noise Within Classical Repertory Theatre, where I interned 20 years ago, hired me five times to direct classic plays; and Sheldon Epps of the legendary Pasadena Playhouse who granted my theatre company a residency and later hired me as his associate artistic director, entrusting me with high-profile, largescale directing projects. Claiming my position in the field thus far has required tenacity and ingenuity to accompany experience, talent, and qualifications. And always, too, a degree of…caution. I may not have changed my name, but I have adapted myself to make it as easy as possible for patrons, staff, press, colleagues, and audiences to embrace me on their terms. Now that the system which initially shut me out as a young actor before I found my way in as a director and artistic director has been shut down by the pandemic, there’s a chance to remake it in one form or another. It’s time for me to choose audacity over caution in order to build a multi-racial, anti-racist, anti-biased ART. Call me up.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

17


“ T HE T IME I S A LWAY S RI G H T T O D O W H AT

ART QUARTERLY

18


T I S R I G H T. ” – M A R T I N L U T H E R K I N G J R .

Photo credit Keith Sheffield

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

19


F E AT URED A R T I C L E

Nobody’s going to fund this:

A MONOLOGUE IN PIECES

BY ANTHONY HUDSON

“Artists steal the world’s energy. They become blood donors. Their lifeblood drips away until they’re bled dry. And the people who control the world make it as inaccessible as possible by driving the artists into corners. You see, it’s dangerous. Our only hope is to recreate ourselves as either artists or anarchists, if you like, and release the energy for all.” — Jubilee (1978), Derek Jarman

I. I was due to give birth the day this took hold, to a new show – a new premiere, that word that pops off our lips like static from a finger when we talk about the next big thing: her next big thing, his next big thing, their next big thing, my next big thing, because that’s what art is – it’s what you give, and what they take, next, next, next.

ART QUARTERLY

20


We’d built the lighting, set the plot, numbered the cues, and like a good team should, we shot the shit. This was appropriate, as the show was about Valerie Solanas, who loved to “shoot the shit” – including, of course, Warhol – and who never got to tell her story, and as it would turn out, I wouldn’t either; not then, not now, at least.

I knew the game, I followed the rules, I’d worked this way all day and night for ten years and I’d planned for ten more. I told myself it would pay off. Sometimes it takes a breaking point to see the lies we’ve told ourselves, the punishments and penances and delusions we’ve created: we just have to stay the course and things will get better.

The crew went to lunch and I was running my lines (I wasn’t ready for this show) when my friend at the college walked in. She fought for this work, this new premiere, and she was coming from a meeting (most art is meetings) and she had bad news. Something in the way she wore her scarf and frowned—

Sometimes it takes a breaking point to see when you’ve been compliant with your own mistreatment. And this time, just now, everything broke.

I knew exactly what she was going to say.

Photo credit Gia Goodrich

Within a week all the work went away.

“Sometimes it takes a breaking point to see when you’ve been compliant with your own mistreatment. And this time, just now, everything broke.”

II. Last year I was a finalist for an award, a big one, one you’d call a “major award” in proper conversation, like at a dinner table with colleagues and one or two presenters or a curator you don’t know. Congratulations, the administrator said, you’re a finalist, one in five. There was one last hoop to jump through, presented as a request: could I come to the city during a six-hour window, on a Monday mere weeks in advance, to offer a 10-to-15-minute presentation on my life and work?

Three days into lockdown I had the first of many Zoom calls (dear god, how could we let “Zoom” become a verb), a board meeting where we tried to reason how to cope, how to help, what we could do. “We have to make art now!” I said. “Go digital, go virtual, bring theatre home.” The theatre where I worked closed. My Valerie show was postponed. Then the fifth anniversary of my ongoing series. Then the premiere of my first commissioned play. In those initial moments of terror I made it my mission to keep theatre alive. To persevere, to persist. To keep us entertained. To keep us occupied.

I made myself available. Monday came and I drove to the city – hours up, hours down, hours of anticipation, preparation, doubt and breathing exercises, internalized screaming to give it all up, hours until I arrived in a glass boardroom, stationed in front of staring strangers and armed only with PowerPoint and prints.

Now this new life has gone on for months and weeks and days and hours, hours in which it’s perpetually six at night before another month’s gone, and regret has turned to reckoning. We were too busy trying to keep it all alive that we didn’t ask if it was time to pull the plug. I was too conditioned to how it had been to consider what it could be.

After fifteen minutes of Me, Myself, and I, in which I zeroed in on everything in my work that I thought had put me under their nose – my work on ancestry, on race and sexuality, on gentrification, consumerism, gender and capitalism, drag and terrorism – I found the panelists only wanted to talk about a video I made as a favor, a gag,

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

21


“Do you think we’ll have to write “funded in part by _____” when we pay rent?”

something silly with a filter and a quick punchline. This video took ten minutes to make, from start to finish, not the hours before and after and up to this panel, all of it the day before I would start tech at a festival for my touring solo’s first homecoming in three years.

After nearly a year in this process, I spent the final month – the month in which I knew award notifications were coming – in a sleep cycle marked by dreaming I had won the award, to waking up and finding there was no award, to going back to sleep, waking up again, checking my phone, seeing I had won the I stood in front of a catalog of award, then realizing I was in a makeup wipes that had transferred dream and waking up again, like a the prints of over 300 of my drag bad horror movie where the Final faces – 300 Veronica’s Veils, but of my Girl wakes from one nightmare into drag clown Carla – each riddled with another. My sleep cycle had merged dirt and debris and eyelashes and air with their grant cycle. I’d get up, go pollution, each striving to capture about my day, and return to bed and a trace of the ephemeral, of the let it continue again. What’s another performed and commodified nature nightmare after a year of them? of self, and the panel glazed over. I’d underestimated the power of a Super One morning I woke from the same 8 film featuring me and my cat. fake-out dream and saw, this time in reality, the email right there in my “Have you considered more videos?” inbox. My heart skipped a beat. This They asked. was it. But even before clicking it, I saw a preview of the body just after They should have considered more the subject line: videos, I think— Dear Anthony, thank you for applying… We could have done this on Zoom. I’d seen enough rejections to recognize one more. It was an honor just to be considered, I’d say whenever I was a finalist for another award, a the memory came back. Every time big one, this one national, the last the memory comes back. one regional. The kind that makes your name desirable even when they I asked for some feedback on my don’t like your work. 3500 something application, having made it so far. applied, they whittled that down The awarding organization had stated to near 100, and from what was left that feedback would be provided they’d choose 45. within a month, and all I had to do was request it via a broken email 50/50. (Story of my life: half Native, half link. After several emails to several white, half boy, half girl, half art, half administrators, and more than a humor, half good, half bad.) month later, I finally received just this sentence: When it came down to it, I didn’t get it, and I don’t begrudge that. It’s It was noted that the project fits the a fact. It’s what happened. It’s how format of a ‘90s personal identity awards work, and awards are how performance and works well within art works. I’d made peace with the genre, but it does not further the this; I accepted it as the standard. form in complex and nuanced ways. What I did begrudge was that this particular lottery took a year: a new I forgot about all the performances application each season, meaning I could look up to from other gay new work samples, new questions, Indians growing up in the ‘90s. I new answers, new expectations, could count them on fingers if only all riddles of the Sphinx but via they happened. From them I could submission. have learned complexity and nuance.

III.

ART QUARTERLY

22


Photo provided by Anthony Hudson

“Sometimes I feel like Nicole Kidman’s therapist in Big Little Lies, staring back at myself with sadness and doubt.”

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

23


I started to apply again this year. I started to go back. Maybe this time it would be different.

V.

like I have to earn their respect. When I do good, and something really resonates with their understanding of the world, they make that sound – that guttural affirmation you hear at readings and in vulnerable moments of performance – that “mm” sound. “Mm,” they say, and continue to stare at me, deer in headlights, just like those panelists who couldn’t see my work for what it was but what they wanted it to be. Even still, white presenters keep booking it and expecting me to practice gratitude for making their organization look better, if not just satisfying a DEI requirement. And I can’t shake the feeling that I get booked because I satisfy the “other” box while looking more like them.

I think of that panel feedback categorizing my work ‘90s personal identity performance, and how it is used to in/validate my Prolonged exposure to grant work, depending on whichever writing runs the risk of becoming whim best suits the presenter in a soundbite. What was once an question. I performed my solo artist, a human being, is now Looking for Tiger Lily for three an “elevator pitch.” (You practice years. I became tired of re-living elevator pitches, not artmaking, the death of my grandmother in artist seminars at booking every night on stage. The death of conferences. When my friends ask my uncle. The memory of coming what booking conferences are, I out to my parents. The horror of tell them, “They’re like boat shows, my family, including my father, but for people.”) Your repertoire a one-time American Indian becomes a pastiche of words in a Movement radical, voting for document to copy / paste. I started Trump. Asking myself on stage, in applying for residencies - not to front of an audience, who I really make work, but so I could write am. If I have a right to call myself more grant applications. Native, or it’s right to call myself white. After three years, was this We live in a grant economy. (A white fundraiser once called show about me anymore? I felt Artists live from project to project like every time I sang “Half-Breed” and asked me – while I was in according to calendars set by I was creating a crucible for white bed at 6 AM in Australia – if I national and regional grant cycles. catharsis. could “call [my] family at the Now that we don’t have shows or Tribe” to see if that might push venues or audiences anymore we a grant request with my Tribe’s White people have the weirdest can’t make work, but there are community fund in their favor. reaction to the show. When relief grants for us “independent “Are you asking me to call in a I’ve performed it for Native contractors” – those ineligible smoke signal?” I wanted to ask. audiences, like at Dartmouth, or for unemployment – we with Instead I told him it doesn’t work in Vancouver, BC (where Native inestimable income. like that and tried explaining artists get funding even if they’re the makeup of my family across not exploring trauma), the Relief grants have been good. multiple Tribes, before going back audience participates. They’re Really, they’re great. Most of them loud and laugh a lot. They talk to sleep.) are a simple form: back and snap and affirm the A few months before the stories they hear. It’s a funny What is your name? pandemic took hold, an show, and it’s funniest when it’s What is your art practice? administrator at a college wrote performed for Natives. If you have letters confirming loss me and asked what touring of income, upload them here. programs I could offer. I told White people, like those who them I was burnt out on Tiger watched the show clutching their One that really got me (I mean I Lily, but that I have a brand-new festival passes when I brought it laughed, I almost laughed), asked multimedia show, a smart farce back home last year to sold-out for two recent videos of fullabout existential dread in the face silence, sit back and observe. length works. Not to evaluate of today’s world, and a lecture Maybe one or two men will need, but to evaluate product. Are whistle at Carla, when she comes on camp that I’d love to bring. you worth investing in? Can you Days later I receive another email out in the beginning of the show, demonstrate a return? saying that they understand how but they’re afraid to interact with burnt out I am with my show, but me once the makeup comes off. Do you think we’ll have to write it’d work best for them if I brought They’re quiet. Anthropological. “ funded in part by _____” when we it. They could engage the local I want to say they’re trying to pay rent? Tribe on campus with it too. Can I be respectful, but it feels more

IV.

ART QUARTERLY

24


do it within their budget? (What’s the German word for when an arts organization puts your name and face on their donor materials but won’t answer your emails?)

about my (mixed) race? My farce – Clown Down, a puppet show where Carla gets crushed by a rogue IKEA cabinet – is good. It’s funny. It sold out its run and the audience went nuts for it. It was the breath of fresh air I needed after three years of performing for white guilt.

If I’m not invited to perform Indigeneity, I’m invited to host galas, lead bingo nights, or do Tiger Lily was covered by every “fun” events for orgs in drag. I single publication in Portland. get to be the nonprofit birthday Throughout its life, I was clown, the entertainment over constantly told how brave I am. cocktail hour before the real I’ve always wondered if that was a artists go on stage. I’ve received double entendre. national awards and fellowships and toured internationally – but Clown Down got one ecstatic that’s culturally-specific work review on a blog. Only one about gay stuff and Indian stuff presenter has asked about it since. and you’d have to find someone to do a land acknowledgement and that requires a whole different pool of funding, equity funding for I think of the other lies I’ve told anything that isn’t in the normal myself to maintain the illusion budget, so why not book me to that I was always precisely where host the afterparty instead? I was supposed to be. That I wasn’t gay, that I just wanted to be like Beyond the current question of the men I couldn’t stop looking at. will theatre ever come back, and That my first boyfriend loved me, in what form – will I ever be able and that’s why he didn’t stop when to make new work? Will I get to I told him to. That it was only a play Valerie Solanas? Will I get joke when my next boyfriend another play commission that isn’t would sometimes hit me. That that

Photo credit Gia Goodrich

VI.

wasn’t something I was only now remembering; that’s how normal I wanted to be. Years and years and years ago I was invited to host a big dance party, and by hosting I mean getting ready at 3 or 4, checking into the venue at 7, going on at midnight, doing two numbers then working the crowd until last call at 2 AM (then getting home at 3 AM and finally going pee), and of course this is all at a bar because when you do drag, that’s where you make work – in drag shows and variety shows and comedy shows and stand-up shows in gay bars and nightclubs and restaurants and sometimes even coffee shops if all the gay bars have been gentrified, because drag isn’t really art, right, and if it is it’s art for gay people, and you’re only a few years in so you haven’t yet learned how to write a grant or speak funder – and the producer was friendly and positive and cool/ queer/punk until we got to the hard part: money. I came from free shows (I just want a stage!) to good gigs ($50 to host? They must not know what the bars pay)

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

25


to the usual ($20 and two drink tickets) and considering this was a big one where I’d seen hundred dollar bill after hundred dollar bill stacked into the hands of national headliners, and the venue had a capacity of 800 people all paying seven dollars to get in, and my face and my name would make up 70% of their flyer, I pushed myself to ask for more. The producer called me on speaker phone with his crew of dancers and DJs and door people and formally offered the show to me – how much would I need? “For a show of this size, I’d ask for 150 dollars,” I said. He let out a laugh and roared: “Damn, bitch is expensive!” I heard the rest laugh as I shrunk smaller. I tried explaining flyer percentages and math into the phone while everyone else caught their breath. At the same nightclub where this party was thrown, and sometimes at that very party itself, I saw promoters scream at performers until they cried after asking for pay. I saw them attacked and banned from the premises. I saw a friend drugged with a drink and thrown out by security. Talked down to, taken advantage of, exploited, groped. Every male producer, every promoter I worked with in those days did this to us. It’s why I left the club scene to self-produce my work, why I pursued theatre. The aggressions there are usually smaller, harder to capture. They exercise more caution. There’s more money at stake. Sometimes I feel like Nicole Kidman’s therapist in Big Little

ART QUARTERLY

26

Lies, staring back at myself with sadness and doubt. Why do we want so badly to believe our abuser will change?

VII. I was a drag queen before straight people caught onto my work. Then I became a drag performer. Then white people caught onto my work, and I became a performing artist. When I was somewhere between a drag queen and a drag performer, a bunch of us got invited to a gala for an arts organization in town, in preparation for their upcoming drag ball programming. We got to sit at tables like the real people, one or two of us scattered at each table to provide sassy banter and a living photobooth for rich patrons. The mayor served me apple cobbler. I resisted telling him that I knew the seventeen-year-old he had dated from my hometown, who started the rival Gay-Straight Alliance in my school district. That didn’t seem like the kind of thing you say at galas. I smiled instead.

playing a tiny violin – I’ve tried, and it doesn’t go with my hair. Any body that doesn’t belong to a straight man or a rich gay man is public property. One time a fan in a crowd ran up and bearhugged me, his shoulder pressing into my Adam’s apple and cutting off my windpipe and I couldn’t get the words out to ask him to let me go and he held on and on and on until I pushed him off me and came up for air. I understand Madonna’s cone bra now. It’s not just fashion, it’s a line of defense. So now I wear my bra with hard, rolled-up socks inside. If you hug me, it’s going to hurt you, too. Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding, reflecting on years of abuse: [to the camera] You’re all my attackers, too.

VIII.

During a residency some time ago I offered a glimpse at Tiger Lily as part of our open studios Somebody gave me a flashy LED presentation for the nearby ring to wear, the kind you’d get community in snowy Central for donating hundreds of dollars Oregon. My grandmother had during the evening. We were just passed (I say “walked on” in supposed to feel special. Mostly, the show, as is traditional for my we were felt up. Nearly every man family, which inspired many a in a tux – each of them with the “mm” from the audience) and I had same designer eyewear – goosed to rework the section devoted to me as they passed, goosed me as her to include this. I cried when I we talked, goosed me to punctuate said goodbye to her from the stage, their sentences. They’d whisper looking at one of the last pictures into my ear about clown pussy taken of the two of us together and blowjobs and what they as it was projected behind me, wanted to do with their auction and I made my exit to walk back paddles, at least until their wives to my cabin in the snow and or their gal pals returned with collect myself. A woman from the new drinks. audience followed me out. “Yours was the best,” she said, Of course, this is not to say that referring to the lineup presented I, be it as a drag queen or drag throughout the day. performer or performing artist, am a special case. This isn’t me “Thank you,” I said, “but we all


make such different work, I don’t think that’s fair.” “No, yours was the best,” she said again, turning her head a little as she looked at me, like she was analyzing me. The way the Terminator looks at people. The same way people look at me when they begin to recognize me outside of makeup, when my cover’s blown. “You don’t look Indian though.” I laughed instinctively. I didn’t tell her that sometimes I agree with this sentiment and it has haunted me my entire life. Instead I said, “No, I do. I look like my grandma.” “No…” she said, dismissing it altogether, but still in thought. “Your show is very good. But I don’t think it’s appropriate for kids like you say, either. All the gay stuff.” “Actually, I think we go out of our way to protect children from certain content because we’re the uncomfortable ones,” I say. “They just see people.” “No, I don’t think so,” she said again. “You might want to think about that. Anyway, good job!” She turned and made her way back to the main building, jumping into the same footprints her boots had already made in the snow. I’ve never understood this interaction or how to feel about it. It might have made more sense had she been white, but she was Korean, visiting from Texas.

IX. I spent three months performing in a back brace. I say three but it felt like six. I say six but I don’t know how long it was.

I did it to myself. I didn’t know how to be a performing artist or a drag queen, not that I know now. And throwing yourself on the ground in high heels isn’t the best idea when you don’t stretch first. Nor is performing while wearing a back brace or taking the stage in a wheelchair – which was partially in bad taste, and also because I couldn’t walk. Beyoncé had just released Pretty Hurts, and I hurt too. Six months of twice a week at the chiropractor later, I learned one of my legs is drastically short. Not like “one foot is bigger than the other” but “wear this in your shoe for the rest of your life and your pelvis might not dislocate”-short. Another addition to the unfolding list of performer pains growing like my parents’ medicine cabinet. My chiropractor, unlike any producer or promoter or director or teacher, taught me how to take care of my body. I did it for a while, on and off. It came and went with my moods, the ebb and flow between mania and gigs. I started running. I ran a lot. I ran up and down stairs, up and down and back and forth, over and over, and I sweated and breathed and churned and chugged and I ran and got hoarse and breathed and grieved. I ran until I ran out of time again. Until I got noticed and became a real artist. That meant saying yes to everything I could if I wanted to continue to be noticed, to continue being an artist. My trips to the chiropractor became more infrequent and eventually the doctor who healed me left the clinic. I got a new doctor, a jock specializing in sports medicine. He didn’t listen to me like she did. He said the

problem was my shoes. He said this after looking at them, before he even looked at me. I didn’t go back. My foam roller is my boyfriend now, these days, since everything shut down – these days which each feel like individual years later. Until this I used my foam roller as a wighead. I bought it to treat myself and instead I kept a yellow-green wig on it. I sit with myself now. I listen to myself. I stretch. I roll it out. I breathe. I try to heal. All while hundreds of thousands die and the nation burns. It took cataclysmic capitalist collapse to get me to stop and take care of myself. Imagine that.

X. I’m done saying yes. I’m saying no. My god, there’s no money coming in and I don’t know when it will again, and I’m saying no. I’m practicing selfishness at my own expense — what I’ve been taught to call selfishness but I think is just looking out for my own wellbeing. I’m done being a birthday clown. Done spending more time fitting the story of my life into a character count rather than living it. Done performing gratitude just for being let in the room, checking a quota, making someone else look good. I’ll offer gratitude when it’s earned. I’m done breaking myself. Done playing a role in the story of my destruction for your benefit. Done taking time away from healing the damage you and I wrought on my body.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

27


F E AT UR E D A R T I C L E

Sometimes I feel hopeless, like nothing will change. That it isn’t radical or selfless or vulnerable enough to hole up, heal, and endure. But enduring is what my people do. We’ve self-isolated for years to be safe from you.

ART QUARTERLY

28


Photo credit Matty Newton

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

29


F E AT UR E D A R T I C L E

Sometimes I feel hopeless, like nothing will change. That it isn’t radical or selfless or vulnerable enough to hole up, heal, and endure. But enduring is what my people do. We’ve self-isolated for years to be safe from you. Presenters are still trying to book Looking for Tiger Lily for this fall and next spring. Through the plague. A show about the effects of genocide and me singing songs from Pocahontas with a cardboard canoe. An audience of less than fifty plague blankets sitting six feet away from each other, going “mm” beneath masks. In a theatre, the place where people go to cough. I’m not performing on a stage as long as it means risking my crew or my audience or my health. I’m not supporting any artist or institution that does. Christopher Nolan wrote about saving movie theaters when they all closed in March, now he’s trying to endanger the lives of theater staff so he can release his latest cinematic bloat. Broadway is cancelled until May, like anything will be different then. A comedy club in town is bringing back its annual comedy contest this month, as if watching amateur comedians workshop bad jokes over glorified convenience store nachos isn’t enough of a threat to public health. I see new livestream notifications every second. I keep getting asked to do live performances, live readings, live Drag Queen Storytimes, live distractions and live desperation. We’re all cam girls now, except they know what they’re doing. I’m not getting all clowned up to perform for a green dot on my computer like ART QUARTERLY

30

none of this is happening. Like everything will go back to normal, and nobody died. And if they did, they died for nothing. I hope you remember this when art comes back. I hope we remember this instead of saying the show must go on like when someone was hitting us and saying they weren’t. AQ


Nobody’s Going toFund This and The Carlalogues will be released as Audio ART projects in Spring 2021. The Carlalogues was developed as part of ART’s Mercury Company and features Anthony Hudson as their drag clown persona, Carla Rossi, who is sick and tired of not having an audience because of the pandemic. These two contrasting projects show the depth and range of Anthony’s skills as a writer and performer.

Photo credit Gia Goodrich

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

31


THE WORK IT TAKES TO CREATE

X ART QUARTERLY

32

X


BY KRISTEN MUN

ILLUSTRATIONS BY ADAM VAN NOY

X

X

WHO IS THE STAGE MANAGER? WHAT DOES THE STAGE MANAGER DO? WELCOME TO PREP WEEK


PREP WEEK

The first theatre production I saw was Phantom of the Opera. I was in 3rd grade and my mother got tickets through work. It was the 1995 tour of Phantom and they were playing at the Hawaii Theatre. I wiggled in my seat until the gavel slammed and the play started.

Welcome to Prep Week My name is Kristen Mun, I’m a 4’9”, Chinese/ Filipina, I use she/her pronouns and I was born and raised on the island of Hawaii. I am a stage manager, fight choreographer, and lover of theatre. Prep Week will take a microscopic look at ONE of MANY theatre jobs and lay out the work it takes to create “theatre magic”. Let’s start at the beginning.

Technical Designers & Production

I can still remember that show. The moments that stick out for me are the moments of technical theatre magic: The chandelier falling from the ceiling, the boat gliding across the misty “water”, the reveal of the phantom in the mirror!!! How did they do that? Who did that? How did they even think about how to do that? How much work did they have to do to create those 15 seconds that took my breath away?

When I decided to go to college for theatre I was told that I had to pick a focus. At the time, the only thing I had done was act (and stage combat). My high school theatre was small and we did not have a technical theatre program. So my response was, “I don’t know, but I want to know everything.” The suggestion from my TA’s: “Be a stage manager, they have to know everything.” And that is exactly what I did. By the time I graduated I had a BFA in Stage Management and I took every single theatre class I could, in every field. I spent time with props, lighting, and sound. I built sets and painted them. I drew costumes and I sewed them. I learned so much and I realized there is SO MUCH MORE.

Who is the Stage Manager? I like to think of the stage manager as the communication hub. It is the stage manager’s job to relay the information from the designers to the rehearsal room and from rehearsal room to the designers.

SM

Rehearsal Room Director & Actors

What is prep week? First, let’s define prep week: Prep week is the week before the first rehearsal. A stage manager’s contract starts one week before the first day of rehearsal.

ART QUARTERLY

34


Stage Manager’s Prep Week SET What does it look like? Is there any automation? Confetti cannons? Fire? A raked stage? Does the set rotate?

What do they look like? What props are considered costumes? (Usually hats, purses, jewelry, this means that the costume shop is providing these pieces not the props department) It is common to make a request for rehearsal shoes and rehearsal costume pieces that affect the performance of the actor, like corsets, jackets, hats (oh please, let those actors practice with their hat, the lighting designer will thank you).

Any special effects in the show? Strobe? Haze? Yah, all that “smoke” you know who is in charge of that? Lights! But more on that later...

We Create Paperwork Welcome Letter

First contact with the cast. Contains info about rehearsal and what to expect from your stage manager.

We Get Ready For a Party

A props master will usually provide a props list, it is the SM’s job to make sure to know when the prop is used, who uses it, and how they use it. Then I let the props master know what props are necessary for rehearsal, the props master usually provides us with rehearsal props if the real thing is not ready yet.

COSTUMES:

LIGHTS

Welcome! My name is Kristen Mun, I use she/ her pronouns and I will be your stage manager for ​A Wonderful Theatre Production ​produced by A Wonderful Theatre Company I am so excited to start this journey with you all! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse porttitor porta volutpat. Vestibulum sit amet sollicitudin nisl. Nullam quis velit eget nulla pellentesque aliquam id ut lorem. In felis felis, pulvinar ut egestas a, porta sit amet ligula. Nullam tincidunt nunc sem, id semper diam semper nec. Aliquam interdum non lacus sit amet maximus. Curabitur mattis feugiat aliquet. Fusce sed purus dapibus urna lobortis dignissim eu non purus. Cras a lectus mollis, aliquet nisi nec, hendrerit massa. REHEARSAL SCHEDULE Vestibulum sit amet sollicitudin nisl. Nullam quis velit eget nulla pellentesque aliquam id ut lorem. In felis felis, pulvinar ut egestas a, porta sit amet ligula. Nullam tincidunt nunc sem, id semper diam semper nec. DAILY CALLS Vestibulum sit amet sollicitudin nisl. Nullam quis velit eget nulla pellentesque aliquam id ut lorem. In felis felis, pulvinar ut egestas a, porta sit amet ligula. Nullam tincidunt nunc sem, id semper diam semper nec. CONTACT SHEET Vestibulum sit amet sollicitudin nisl. Nullam quis velit eget nulla pellentesque aliquam id ut lorem. In felis felis, pulvinar ut egestas a, porta sit amet ligula. Nullam tincidunt nunc sem, id semper diam semper nec. RECORDING Nullam quis velit eget nulla pellentesque aliquam id ut lorem. In felis felis, pulvinar ut egestas a, porta sit amet ligula. Nullam tincidunt nunc sem, id semper diam semper nec. I am excited to work with you all I thank you in advance for your patience and perseverance. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or needs. Kristen Mun Stage Manager email@email.com

PROPS

We Learn Every Detail About The Show

Contact Sheet 1DPHRI7KHDWUH&RPSDQ\ 3OHDVHNHHSFRQILGHQWLDO

SOUND If your sound designer is really cool, you’ll get rehearsal sound cues. You know who you are…

Calendar

Report

Blocking Script

Calendar with rehearsal and performance dates and times.

Sent to designers and technicians to report info from rehearsals and performances.

Used in rehearsals to record the movement of the actors, set changes and any other info regarding backstage.

2EQISJ7,3; FRQWDFWVKHHW

&UHDWLYH'HVLJQ7HDP 1$0( 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV

3+21( 'LUHFWRU  &KRUHRJUDSKHU  0XVLFDO'LUHFWRU  6FHQLF'HVLJQHU  &RVWXPH&RRUGLQDWRU  /LJKWLQJ'HVLJQHU  0XVLFDO'LUHFWRU  6RXQG'HVLJQHU 

(0$,/ QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP

6WDJH0DQDJHPHQW 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV

60 $60

 

QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP

&DVW 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV

FDVW FDVW FDVW FDVW FDVW

    

QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP

6WDII 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV 0RUELWHPSXV

VWDII VWDII VWDII VWDII VWDII

    

QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP QDPH#HPDLOFRP

7,7/(3$57

The cast and designers with their email and phone numbers.

Prep Rehearsal Room - We take a blueprint of the set and use “spike tape” to draw it on the rehearsal room floor. This is called “taping the set” - Gather tables & chairs

Gather Hospitality - Tissue

Gather Work Supplies - Pencils

- Hand Sanitizer

- Pens

- Coffee and Tea

- Highlighters

- Cough Drops

- Post-Its

- Check in with cast about their dietary needs


13

Stage Manager during rehearsal:

PR

BACK STAG

12

Communication hub, Information hub, Scheduling hub

11

During rehearsal the stage manager and assistant stage manager or productin assistant record every little detail. • Blocking- where are those actors going? Sometimes my notes look like a football coach’s playbook. • Props- where are those props coming from? • Quick changes- how much time does that actor have to get from costume #1 to costume #2 • Set changes- how did that chair get over here? • Will the actors need cue lights?

5

I also see myself as the cheerleader for the show. I LOVE being in rehearsal.

2

E

One time, before I headed into rehearsals for Noises Off the director said to me, “Don’t stop laughing.” I said, “no problem.”

When I head into that rehearsal room, I am building a family. I see myself as a support system for the actors and director, I ask myself, “how do I set them up for success?”

P

Technical Rehearsal:

W

Tech is a very important time for the stage manager. It is when the designers, actors, and technicians all come together. Who is working backstage during a show? Well, that depends… How big is the show? Is it a musical? A one-person show? Here’s a quick example:

E

When you do a bigger show you have a bigger crew. Each color on the theatre layout map has its own crew, designer, production head, and probably more people that I don’t know about!

E K

Tech is when we put all the humans together and create one unified piece. The set is built, the props are pulled, the costumes are made, the lights are hung, the sound is rolling, the blocking is set, and now it’s time to create the final documents of the show:

ART QUARTERLY

36

7


In The Heights

20 In The Cast — 7 Band Members 1 2

GE

4

Production Assistant 1 Production Assistant 2

5

Deck Manager /Rail Operator

6

Master Electrician Spot Op. 1

3

7

14

Stage Manager Assistant Stage Manager

8 9

Spot Op. 2 A1 Mixer / Sound Board Op.

10 A2 Sound Tech. /Audio Support 11

12 13 14

Wardrobe Supervisor Dresser 1 Dresser 2 Dresser 3 / Wigs & Hair

School Girls, Or The African Mean Girl Play

10

3 4

8 In The Cast

Stage Manager Production Assistant 3 Deck Manager / Auto Operator 4 Master Electrician 5 Sound Board Op. 6 Wardrobe Supervisor 1

BACK STAGE

2

6

3 2

8

9 1

6

5 1

4

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

37


Don’t steal the run sheets, the ASM has extra copies. The calling script and run sheet. The calling script is the DNA of the show. It has all of the cues; lights, sound, actors, automation, etc …. This is what the stage manager uses for every show. If something were to happen to the SM, then the calling script is passed over to another SM to call the show. So now you know… if you want to sabotage a show, steal the calling script. The run sheet is the choreography and life of the backstage. Where/how props are set up ... Sometimes it contains special effects, snow-cone making, or when to stand by with a fire extinguisher.

Calling Script

Every stage manager has their own unique way of creating a calling script.

“Stand by” calls let the crew know what is coming next.

Cues! I color-code all my cues.

Underlined words are where I say “GO”.

ART QUARTERLY

38

Blue = Auto Orange = Sound Yellow = Lights


Run Sheet

The Run Sheet contains everything that happens during the show back stage. Sometimes the SM cues the crew. Sometimes the crew cues the SM. On this show Liam was the SM.

Last comment about tech. Tech is long, usually 10 hours everyday, for a week. Tech is hard, you’re on your feet for long periods of time, you do the same scene over and over. Tech is where it all comes together. Technical theatre folx don’t like the phrase “theatre magic”. I think because it gives the illusion that things happen instantly. It doesn’t. It happens over months/ weeks/ and in the span of 5-7 days (tech) everyone comes together and gives everything they’ve got. So that by the time we perform in front of our first audience all you see is the story.

WORK That’s the real magic.

I think about this everytime I head up to the booth to call a show.

Once a show is opened, it is like riding a wave. At times it can be peaceful and calming. Other times it can be exhilarating and maybe have too much excitement. During “show mode” I am usually up in the “booth” and I call the cues that I practiced calling during tech.

I send a report every night to the designers and the production team. I talk about how the show went, if we had any problems, the number of people in the audience and how long the show ran. Stage managing has been one of the biggest challenges and greatest gifts in my life. Being a stage manager means I get to be in “the room where it happens”. I have met so many amazing people as a stage manager and every person has taught me a little bit about myself.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

39


“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

ART QUARTERLY

40


Photo credit Leslie Crandell Dawes

Photo credit Leslie Crandell Dawes

Photo credit Jamelle Bouie / CC BY

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

41


by Vin Shambry

ART QUARTERLY

42


I believe telling personal stories can create social change. By sharing my stories of growing up homeless in Portland, I hope to illuminate for you the realities of communities and individuals living at the margins, and to challenge deeply-entrenched characterizations of poverty and privilege.

Flower Joy is my story, an untangling of how poverty, racism, and sexism intersected in my childhood. As a writer, storyteller and performer, my goal for Flower Joy is to inspire us to connect with the “human-ness” of one another – the joy and shame and heartache and family we all hold. Perhaps the next time you encounter a homeless youth, a survivor of domestic violence, or a black teenage boy, you’ll remember this story and see them with curiosity as a whole person, full of possibilities, much like yourself.

Photo credit Lava Alapai

— Vin Shambry, October 2020

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

43


An Excerpt From FLOWER JOY I was the young, homeless boy getting clothes from the Salvation Army on N. Williams Avenue in the Winter, and getting a box of food with my sisters at the Sunshine Division. I showered at Matt Dishman locker rooms when

we were homeless, washed my clothes at the laundromat on NE 15th (where Whole Foods currently is). I was the boy following my mom with a shopping cart of our belongings, collecting cans in St. Johns. When on summer break from Sabin Elementary School, I was the little boy waiting all morning for the free lunch at Irving Park -- before rushing to Dawson Park to get another free meal to share with my mom. This city is entrenched in my identity. A memory: All the kids are running towards me, picking me up in the air, telling me that I was strong, that I belonged. The last night of Outdoor School, we sat around listening to counselors tell stories like they do. And one story I will never forget. It was a story from long ago about how all the animals sought shelter from the worst of a storm. Some of them went into the cliffs, and some of them went into the caves, but in the

end, the mice were left with nowhere to go. So what they did was they sought shelter in the mighty pine trees. To this day, if you look at a pinecone, you can still see what looks like their tails sticking out from the bottom. Hearing that story, I start to cry. After a while I could tell that all the kids have noticed that I’m crying, and they’re all whispering. But at that moment, I do not care. I am too overwhelmed with emotion to be embarrassed. I look around at this wonderful place and my new friends, but I can’t help but think that I’ve deserted my family in our tree. I have left them this whole time, and I only just realized it. My tears are coming from a place of gratitude for this awesome week, but also from the realization that my family needs me. I’m twelve. And I’m the man in charge. I’m supposed to push the shopping cart with all our stuff. I’m supposed to find the cardboard for us to sleep on. I’m supposed to protect my mom and sister. There is a storm coming, and I’m not there to stay awake.

Flower Joy is conceived as a multi-media performance. An audio version of the story will be released in Spring 2021.


Photo credit Lava Alapai

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

45


Flow Joy

ART QUARTERLY

46


Photo credit Lava Alapai

wer

“Flower Joy brings people through a personal journey of perseverance no matter what and finding beauty in the shame. “

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

47


ART QUARTERLY

48

Photo provided by DeReau Farrar


SPECKLING THE WHITE ARTSCAPE by DeReau Farrar

I make art in Whitespace for a living. More specifically, I make music that is explicitly and intentionally tied to the spiritual lives and, when I am most successful, spiritual development of White people. I don’t mean to suggest that there are only White people there. That is not nearly the case. But, it is Whiteness - White idealism - that dominates that space. So then, what does it mean for me, a queer and Black man charged with making art under these circumstances? I am no stranger to White arts spaces. I have worked in several predominately and dominantly White churches, but, also, I have a resume full of theatrical, operatic, symphonic, choral, and film credits - almost all in Whitespace. Even the nearly countless times I have performed in Porgy and Bess have all been in Whitespace. Traveling with mostly Black people through Europe to perform spirituals and other Black music was still an artistic expression in Whitespace. And every time I make a commitment to make art in a new Whitespace, and even sometimes in the middle of that commitment, the tensive question I must always try to answer is about whether it is my job to produce art that represents this community, or whether it is my job to create art that represents myself.

I decided long ago that I am an artist and not simply an entertainer, which I believe answers the question, even if it does not ease the tension. As an entertainer, my role would be to satisfy the audience by providing an undisruptive experience that appeals to the senses. As an entertainer, I would position myself as something to do - a luxury item to fill one’s moment or evening or weekend with. This is not in any way to disparage or discredit entertainers. They do the sacred work of keeping us all balanced and, to whatever extent possible, functioning. And the best of them do it with more sensitivity, skill, and dedication than most of us are capable of in any aspect of our lives. Still, as an artist, my role is different. It is to create wholly from within myself, bypassing priority of the senses and reaching into the mind, heart, and soul. As an artist, it is my role to disrupt the status quo, promote necessary discomfort, and hope for a shift or response, no matter how slight, in even one person. Needless to say, it is impossible to be perfect in this work. So, the simple answer is that I show up to work as myself. Whenever I am welcomed into Whitespace, and I am generally welcomed very enthusiastically, I enter knowing that the dear, well-meaning White folks that brought me in likely have very little idea what it means to empower and grant authority to

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

49


(PHOTO)

ART QUARTERLY

50

a Black person, especially one committed to showing up as authentically as possible. (I have been deeply conditioned to be a master code-switcher, so even though I try to arrive authentically, it is more complex than that.) These people are enthusiastic because hiring me often means progress toward their board-sanctioned diversity and inclusion goals. It means they can begin to feel better about their own relationship with racism. And because colorblindness has been so thoroughly poured into them, they make the mistake of believing that we are all the same even if we look different. They make the mistake of believing the stage and the artistic process and the organization can remain the same even if the people look different. Meanwhile, I know long before they do that they have invited in a disruption to their way of life as well as to their relationship to art, as we tend to doubt art’s subversive nature until we are on the impact end of it.

The most difficult part of working in Whitespace for me is insisting on survival, which is no different from carrying my Black face and Black body through daily life. I am built for it, inherently and ancestrally. Black resilience is the unexpected side effect of generations of White oppression. The most difficult part is not my part. Every time one of the congregants of the church I serve says something like, “I can’t imagine what it must be like to work in such a White place and in such a White city,” I think to myself, “I can’t imagine what it must be like to learn that almost nothing you have was gained with any moral purity.” You see, I can live with White people. I can make art that is beautiful and meaningful in White arts spaces. It seems to me that the difficult part lies within White society’s ability to adapt to the presence of my Blackness and all that it has to offer. The most successful White arts spaces will acknowledge that there will be substantial losses, embrace the change happening within them and their people, and have faith that the art we make together will inspire generations of people much better at this than we ever were.

(PHOTO)

The victory of diversity, inclusion, equity, and anti-oppression work is not in how well we speckle the White landscape with Black and Brown faces, it is in how well we adapt to the influence of those Black and Brown lives on our own. If you are not changed by this work, you are doing it wrong.


Photo credit Keith Sheffield


ART QUARTERLY

52


Do You See Me? by Emmanuel Henreid

20 21 You may have heard Emmanuel Henreid practicing Italian arias around downtown Portland? Maybe you heard about him when his National Anthem duet with a Portland State University student went viral? Or you were witness to his rendition of Stand by Me at the Waterfront Park protests? This is his story.

I have felt like the poster child. You dress up, you play the part, and then go home into a world that looks nothing like the opera. I’ve been on stage and have seen people in the audience. After the show, they give me a thumbs up, “Good job.” Then I take off, you know, the wardrobe and makeup, and I’m walking home, and I try waving at people. They grab their purses and pull their partners closer. They don’t speak, they don’t use their words. Are they ashamed of their fear? Once I saw an audience member and said, “Hey, did you enjoy the show?” They replied, “Yeah, I enjoyed the show. You should see it sometime.” “Ah, thanks. Actually, I was on stage.” “No way. That is so cool. Wait, you mean you were on stage?”

Photo credit Tiana Avila

I was the only Black man on the stage that night. What conclusion can I draw from that experience other than “people don’t see me”? As an artist, my role is to bring them into an adventure on stage. Yes, I want them to see me as part of a story. But outside of that, they don’t necessarily see me.

the grand gestures of the 1990’s Marvel superheroes in the themes of opera. I observed some connection between superhero culture and what I saw on TV, classical opera music. We think opera is a stuffy thing, but through this seven-year old’s eyes, it was villains, people cheating on one another, hearts being broken, death, and betrayal. It was fascinating. With that in mind, I said, “This is what I want to do.” My mother also wanted to be an opera singer. She auditioned and was accepted for the Portland Opera. Then someone came along and told her that she couldn’t do it because she had three kids. She gave up that dream. When I was ten years old, my father passed away, and there wasn’t a lot of conversation around his death. That year was a very silent year for me. One thing that stood out to me during that time was music. I would sing to myself. I’d weep and cry. I would sing hymns from church. Songs would comfort and console me. Frequently, I’d be singing at one or two o’clock in the morning, crying and weeping myself to sleep. It comforted me. And yes, I would hear, “[knock-knock]...you need to cut that out. Cut that out, son. It’s late, like, stop that.”

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, often called “the Whitest City in America.” I’m a Black singer, dancer, actor, composer, and musician. I’m an opera singer and Music was a real, tangible thing for me. My whole family a contemporary, soulful artist. I’m an educator. I strive sang, but I didn’t have any training. My aunt once said that to bring all these worlds together and bring culture and the gift wasn’t given to me: “you need to grow up and be diversity to my listeners. a doctor, because you didn’t receive the gift.” I accepted At around seven years old, I turned on the TV one day, and that. I was allowed to walk to church by myself for the first there was an opera on. It was on the only channel that came time. Along the way, a snarling dog ran straight at me and through at the time. I sat down, and I started to recognize into a fence that toppled a little bit. I was like, “That was

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

53


a close call.” He kept on hitting the fence, and eventually, the fence fell over. This dog was charging in, and all of a sudden, I used a big, grand voice. The dog stopped. I was thinking to myself, “This dog is listening to me. This is strange.” I continued to talk to the dog, yelling with a huge voice. My voice was traveling at least a block and a half, trying to get this dog’s attention and tell him to back down. The dog stopped and turned around. A voice did live inside me. My voice was big. There was something about it that was convincing, honest, authentic, real. It had command to it. I used that same commanding voice to sing. I eventually started to mimic the classical sound used by opera singers. I knew I had command, emotion, and healing in me. I started to cultivate those things. I studied for about three hours a day in my garage. Then I began to compete. Two years later, I became the number one high school-aged opera singer in the state of Oregon.

“Yes, some French.” At that moment, she looked me in the eye, and there was a full pause. She said, “What are you, a part of the witness protection program or something?”

Often, I was told that I should not sing classical music because my voice was “soulful.” It was implied that the Black color of my skin was connected to soul music. I was told I should stick with what I know. That was a subtle way of saying, “You’re African American; this type of music is not meant for you.” Years later while I was making gospel music (and trying to keep my gospel and opera singing worlds separate) I had a chance to tour as a background singer for Josh Groban. I noticed a moment of entanglement between pop music and gospel music in his “You Raise Me Up”: gospel backgrounds, classical singer in front. I thought, “There might be a niche to this.” Today, I am using the same technique. I write original music that combines soul, indie, traditional classical music, and Black gospel music. I’m fusing those into an EP called “Livin’ in the Light.”

A friend of mine performed in The Color Purple. She was getting on the subway in New York, and someone called her a “Black b****.” They said, “Move out of the way.” They pushed her out of the way, and they got onto the subway. It almost made her late for her show. When she got to the show, she performed, and that night, they had a standing ovation. Afterward, the company offered a talkback. Everyone was signing autographs. That same man who called her a “Black b****” came up to her and said, “That was the most amazing performance. Thank you so much...” raving and raving and raving about her performance, asking for an autograph. She looked at him with a blank face like, “You don’t see that I’m that Black b**** that you pushed off the subway. You don’t see me at all.” Is that show business?

We both laughed awkwardly. Then she looked at me again. I realized that if I said that I was a part of the witness protection program, that would be more convincing than for me to be an African American young person who was also an opera singer. I realized from that moment, all eyes were on me, questioning why I was in the room. My interaction with the artistic director motivated me to pay attention and to show up. Learn the music, just learn the music, figure it out, do your best to shine. I did. I eventually recorded a few things with OPB, had photoshoots, I was heavily involved with the company. Other doors began to open up as well. But it was odd and lonely.

How can we create a culture of honor and dignity, or The human voice can be strengthened by working on simply one of, “I see you, you’re here, you’re human, intonation, vibrato, breathing, and other technical things. you’re like me”? Classical music is mostly a European, But I believe everyone has a voice, and everyone can sing. white form of music. Currently, I’m in a Black opera with Some people have it naturally, and other people, like me, an all-Black cast singing about gentrification and it’s have to work for it by studying and training for hours a encouraging. Most African American singers come from day for years. gospel, jazz, and rock & roll backgrounds. Our culture was the genesis of those genres. To do an opera about the All opera singers are linguists. You have to study about gentrification history of Portland (initially, a White utopia) three or four different languages to sing in the opera. On is wild. I didn’t always feel wanted in my city; my family my first day working as a professional opera singer, I met a was allowed to be here. Slavic woman who was the opera building custodian. She greeted me, and we had a brief conversation in Russian. I grew up in the ghettos of Portland. There were ghettos, She told me that no one had spoken to her in weeks believe it or not. One summer, there were six killings — because her English is broken. She appreciated me taking people didn’t happen to die; these were murders. To grow the time to talk to her. I went down to rehearsal. up in an environment like that, and then to arrive and work within an opera community, singing week after week Then the artistic director, who had briefly noticed that inside auditoriums with predominantly White audiences, conversation, approached me, “So, your last name is is quite a tension, quite a dichotomy. I address that French?” tension by using my voice in public. I sing in clubs, bars, I said, “Yes, it is.” churches, on street corners, anywhere I can reach people She said, “...but you speak Russian.” with the unique joy of making. Let the music wash over “A little.” you. Remind yourself of your own power and resilience. She said, “You also speak French?”

ART QUARTERLY

54


White families created zoning that didn’t allow Black families to be in specific spaces. I would hear, “Let’s get rid of the riff-raff. It’s wrong. It’s bad—crime rates. There’s no good in this space. Let’s totally change it. But not only change it, but push everyone out that doesn’t look like us.” It’s hurtful. There are two stereotypical roles for African American men in entertainment: either you are overweight and funny, or you are a muscular, sex symbol. Very few characters have anything in between. If you’re short, skinny, this or that, you’re not fit for the camera, you’re not fit for the role. I have to break that mold and do that work. Whether in activism and speaking or singing and living, it’s important to encourage other creatives to not fear or feel like they’re alone.

We’re losing the power of the voice. We’ve designed a sanitized society in which we’re afraid to advocate for ourselves and speak out about right and wrong. We’re addicted to technology, which is most usually a silent form of communication. We have to wonder why it’s so scary to do karaoke in front of even our closest friends. There’s something vulnerable about using the voice. The voice is very telling. Now is the time to reclaim the voice. After performing all across the world and learning to sing in five languages, is singing in public enough for me, as a Black man, to belong here in Portland, in America? After investing $150,000+ into my training as a professional musician, is that enough? America, is that enough for you to see me in my complexity, in my multitudes, and include me in your future vision? Why are Black men tasked with being extraordinary as a prelude to belonging?

I recently had a chance encounter with another singer from Portland State University on the streets of Portland. A video of our spontaneous duet went viral. ABC, MSN, Fox, and The Today Show, everyone was reaching out. What’s Artists, not politicians, will be the ones to envision, so compelling about a quick rendition of the national collaborate around, and organize around whatever our anthem? I believe people were compelled by raw moment post-COVID reality will be. The future is our potential, our because music is inherently healing. I’ve been using music right, our responsibility. I invite all artists across America to unite the disparate groups, subcultures, and identities to respond to this cultural moment. Please harmonize with within my communities and within myself. Whether it’s me. Let’s continue to show up and engage with the crucial performing with our opera, leading protest songs in a civil questions of race, class, and equity that face us now. rights march, or singing traditional Black gospel music, I am using music to heal myself and others.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

55


“In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist.” — Angela Y. Davis

ART QUARTERLY

56


Photo credit Keith Sheffield


WHEN I WAS SEVENTEEN (PHOTO)

by Kisha Jarrett

ART QUARTERLY

58


I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was in fourth grade and I failed the writing portion of my Standards of Learning test out of laziness. Why out of laziness? Because the question was something ridiculous like, “What did you do for your summer vacation?” which I felt was a stupid and uninspired question. My response was pretty quipped. “I went to the beach with my parents and little brother. I rode my bike around the neighborhood and the river, and read books all summer. Thank you for asking.” I failed. That’s what I get for being a smartass. My parents were mortified and got me a writing tutor for the summer because I could re-test the writing portion in the Fall as a fifth grader. When I first met Mrs. Grant, I was embarrassed that I had to be there. She was a teacher at my dad’s school (he was a middle school principal, hence the mortification of his own child failing a SOL). But she was kind and to assess what the problem was, we talked for about 15 minutes and then she wrote four questions on the chalkboard and told me to choose one and write about it. “Write anything?” I asked. “Anything.” Anything is so wide open. So vast, so big that it swallowed me whole. Anything was a great big world and I was so little. “Does it have to be real or can I make it up?” “It can be anything you want, you only have to answer the question by the end. If you don’t like the question that is asked, find another way to get to an answer through your writing.” So, I picked a subject from one of the choices off the chalkboard and I started to write. And I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. I wrote until the hour was up and Mrs. Grant told me that my dad was waiting for me. I said I wasn’t done with the story yet, and that I needed more time. She assured me I could finish next time. That one hour was all it took to hook me. Mrs. Grant told my dad that there was nothing wrong with me or my writing abilities, in fact, I was an excellent writer, I was just bored. Her explaining that I could take something mundane and through writing, change the structure so that it would be exciting blew my mind. When I was a senior in high school, I took Advanced Placement English in the hopes of placing out of Freshman English in college. I really shouldn’t have been in the class because I was a mediocre student who was well-read but tried really, really hard. Well, not really hard. I was good at pleading my case for re-tests and extra-credit. I was likeable. I was the class clown that was the teacher’s pet. An enigma of an enigma. I think people would have hated me more had I not been so self-deprecating about it. Anyway, my AP English teacher was a beast. She HATED me. She’d ask questions of the class and I would say the right answer and she would ignore me only to hear someone say the answer right after me. I would then make a snide comment and have the people around me chortling with laughter, which was extremely rude of me, and she would ignore that too. No matter what I did (or didn’t do), no matter how charming I was, she was

not about to let me slide. And there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone needs the hard-assed teacher to open their eyes to the fact that they won’t be able to get what they want all the time. With the exception that this teacher told me I was a horrible writer. She said that sentence to me. One day after class when I went to talk to her about the F I had gotten on my Ethan Frome essay. She leaned into me with her cigarette and stale coffee breath told me I didn’t understand the short story (or the symbolism of that fucking sled) and that my writing, while I showed support for my argument, was horrible. My. Writing. Was. Horrible. This destroyed me. Like totally destroyed. (And at this time, I was saying ‘like’ a lot, so I was really like, like really upset about it.) Up to that point, that was all I had done. Write. Write in my little black leather journal short stories and poems and ideas and snippets of conversations to write into dialogue for a play. And this lady that has taught high school English for eons told me I wasn’t any good at it. She must know what she’s talking about, right? I ultimately went to my tenth grade English teacher, who I had a great rapport with to commiserate and say maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a writer. Maybe I should just stop before I go waste a bunch of money in college. She encouraged me and wouldn’t let me be deterred by one naysayer. Fast forward more or less twenty years and I’ve told stories all over the country for the Moth and Back Fence PDX and Seven Deadly Sins. I’ve written two screenplays. I’m currently writing my first novel. Now, what if I hadn’t had a support system behind me when that teacher said that to me? What if I couldn’t go back to my ninth or tenth or eleventh grade English teacher, or to my parents, or back to Mrs. Grant to lift me up and push me to keep moving forward, even though the set-backs (because there will be set-backs). What if I was one of those kids that didn’t have a rather tough exterior? What if I took what this white teacher said to the only black kid in class as gospel? How many voices have we lost because those kids didn’t have someone saying, “go for it” behind them? I say all the time that I’m really good at a lot of things but I’m not great at anything. Some of that is my own inability to just commit to one artistic form and ‘just do that.’ But sometimes, sometimes in the dead of night, in the dark crevices of my mind it’s that little sad sack devil clown voice a lá Pennywise telling me my writing is horrible. That I failed. But sometimes failure is what keeps us going. What helps us evolve. What motivates us to find a better way, a better ending, a better story. Failing is what helped me become a writer. Failure pushes me to believe in myself even when the seemingly never end rejection letters flood my inbox. Because all it takes is one. One yes. One person to say, “I see what you’re doing and I love it.”

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

59


ART QUARTERLY

60


“Mrs. Grant told my dad that there was nothing wrong with me or my writing abilities, in fact, I was an excellent writer, I was just bored.”

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

61


O C MM

UNITY

V

ART QUARTERLY

62

O

ICES

Photos provided by Cassandra Pangelinan


Upon the announcement that Stumptown Stages was acknowledged by the Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards (PAMTA) for their production of West Side Story, which did not cast ethnically appropriate actors, a local actor questioned the producer of PAMTAs about such a decision. Below is the Facebook Messenger conversation that Cassandra Pangelinan sent to Corey Brunish along with his responses. Following Cassandra’s public post on her own Facebook page and public backlash, the PAMTAs have since disbanded.

Cassandra at a Black Lives Matter protest in Salem, OR.

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

63


COMMUNIT Y VOICES

Portland Area Musical Theatre Awards (PAMTA). Photo by David Kinder.

ART QUARTERLY

64


Photo provided by Cassandra Pangelinan

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

65


COMMUNITY VOICES

Cassandra: I am a local BIPOC actor, who identifies as Chamorro, Hispanic, and Asian. I have been acting in Portland for four years, and was previously focused in my hometown of Salem and McMinnville. The movement sparked by the death of George Floyd has greatly inspired me to not just stand up to potential problems or injustices, but to actively call it out. I was offended by the Stumptown casting of WEST SIDE STORY last fall, but didn’t say anything for the reason most actors stay silent, the ever-dreaded blacklist. Stumptown faced heavy criticism for their casting in June, and I was very upset to see this casting be rewarded by the PAMTAS during this important movement (especially since they were simultaneously fundraising for BLM). During such an ambiguous time for theatre, I felt no fear in potential backlash because who knows when theatre will return? And I truly wish and want for theatre to be more inclusive, more positive, and devoid of its damaging, abusive and discriminatory and racist practices when it does return. The question is clear. What’s the point of theatre returning if it hurts its most marginalized and underrepresented people, the same as before?

Our theatre community extends far beyond Portland, OR. Though our focus with Community Voices is a space for our local community to share their experiences, we also recognize the need for national dialogue. ART Quarterly is committed to holding this space for relevant news stories. For a national perspective see additonal articles (with links) provided below. LA Times 40 Black playwrights on the theater industry’s insidious racism by Ashley Lee https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-10-14/40-black-playwrights-theater-racism

We See You White American Theatre https://www.weseeyouwat.com

Photo provided by Cassandra Pangelinan

ART QUARTERLY

66




Photo credit Keith Sheffield

“When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you’ve got to have vigilance, but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time, and you just have to be steady, so that you don’t give up when you don’t get all the way there.” — Barack Obama

A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

69



SUBSCRIBE

TO ART QUARTERLY

As a Subscriber Member to Artists Repertory Theatre you will receive the ART Quarterly as a member benefit.

4 ISSUES FOR $50 Gift subscriptions available.

ARTQuarterly@artistsrep.org

UPCOMING ISSUE 2 :: LOVE & SEX

ISSUE 3 :: SPRING FEVER

ISSUE 4 :: BE BOLD

January/February

April/May

July/August

Raising up community voices is an essential part of the ART Quarterly Magazine. So often organizations forget to listen to the people. That is why it’s important that we hear from you. If you have a story or experience to share, feel free to email us: ARTQuarterly@artistsrep.org

THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING AN AD-FREE & INDEPENDENT MAGAZINE A PUBLICATION OF ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE

71