Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

My brain is slightly… finicky.

To be fair, it worked fine until Valentine’s Day, 2011— when a series of worsening headaches led to the discovery of a tumor in the left lateral ventricle of my brain, and the second half of eighth grade rapidly devolved into emergency surgery and radiation therapy. But while those treatments cured my Cancer, they ravaged my brain, causing my “short term memory with interruption” (aka, the ability to retain information when not directly focused on a single task) to operate at the 7th percentile.

Now, names, dates, and entire events are often erased, leaving me with a partial recollection of my past. Don’t ask me about high school, I don’t remember 90% of it. Where those memories should be, alternative realities emerge— things I think I remember, but are entirely made up. I live my day-to-day life in this nebulous zone, unsure of what will stick, what will be lost, and what will be invented.

I started writing plays to reprogram the things I’ve lost. If I can’t tell the difference between what I remember and what I’ve concocted anyways, what’s keeping me from creating new narratives to help me understand my past? Which sounds crazy, I know— but some of my earliest scribblings became Thicker than Water, a play which single-handedly let me process my medical history, as well as the death of a young friend from a near-identical diagnosis. I may remember little of the actual Cole now, but I do remember the version of him I’ve immortalized in my work, and who helped me confront the Survivor’s Guilt I’d suppressed for years.

Time has passed since writing that play, but the questions which spurred it still haunt me:

What have we forgotten?
How does that affect the way we exist in the world?
Can we reimagine those lost memories into being?

I write to find the answers, to figure myself out. But questions like these certainly aren’t unique. As our country finally begins to reckon with its past, stories of remembrance are the first step to visualizing a new path forward. If my work can serve as a starting point for others who are wrestling with the same questions I am, then I believe I’ve been successful.