There is always something a bit wonderful and a bit crazy about starting a new project.
Part of me is all like "this will be awesome"! And part of me is all like "why do I do this to myself"!
I'm sure there is something in your life that fits this description. For me, several things do: writing...eating cookies for dinner...signing up for half marathons...etc.
But I digress.
This post is to ask for help. Which is always scary for me. We are so often taught to figure stuff out on our own...that asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure.
Well, in order for my next project to come into fruition, I need to ask for help. I want to ask for help. Help is the only thing that will get this baby started. So...here goes:
For the next 8ish months I'll be working on a new play.
Backstory: Back in college, I wrote a thesis looking at black female performers on stage. I was interested in how black women performing on stage were haunted by the history of the auction block and black female slaves being forced to be on display. Commodification, sexualization, fetishization, etc. was all there… During this time, I also began to read about Saartjie (or Sarah) Baartman, also known as The Hottentot Venus. If you don’t know her already, here is the very, very, very short story: she was an African woman who was put on display for European audiences because of her “exotic” body. (Recently, her story was in the news because of Kim Kardashian...)
Since then, I’ve been interested in looking at this from a non-academic approach and from a more personal and performative view. This is where you guys come in.
The Project: I want to reach out to people who identify as black women who often have their bodies on display (this can mean they are performers, public speakers, teachers, doctors, anyone walking down a street…anyone who feels as though their body is on display for significant amounts of time) and hear their experiences and knit together their stories with Baartman’s story. I want this piece to be filled with movement and music. I want there to be powerful words and voices. I want the visuals of this piece to be a part of the conversation from the start. There will be gazing. There will be bodies. I want to do them justice.
I am not sure what the final version of this piece will look like. To me, the chances of it being a solo piece are as likely as it having a cast of nine. It may be a bunch of monologues or one, long, carefully crafted scene. I have no clue…and that is really exciting.
Would you mind helping me?
1) If you feel as though you are a black woman who has her body on display often, I have created a little Goggle form to get some preliminary thoughts from you if you’d wouldn’t mind answering the questions. I'd like to get as many responses to this form as possible!
2) If you don’t feel as though you are a black woman who has her body on display often (and even if you do!), you can share this post and/or the form link to others who identify as black women. I’d love to hear from people I don’t know. I'd like to get a wide variety of responses. All ages, sexual orientations, professions, life situations...so, if you can, please share far and wide.
If you or someone else has any questions, feel free to head over to the contact me page and send me a note. Or leave a comment. I'll be sure to answer everything to the best of my ability.