Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

Testament of Agency; or My Artist Sermon:

My earliest theatrical experiences were inside the emotionally charged, born-again, Neo-charismatic Christian church. Singing. Praying. Shouting. Prophesying. Soaking. Performing miracles. Dancing. Speaking in tongues. Weeping together at the altar was a typical—often daily, worship experience. Together as a church we performed extravagant passion plays and evangelized with morality plays. The art we created in the faith of my youth was a sacred ritual. An offering. An altar call of catharsis. It was a visceral kinesthetic communal experience intended to conjure up a portal into the realms beyond the physical, if only for a single fleeting moment.

Today, I no longer associate with organized Religion, for many reasons, but the short answer is because the theatre is my church. My colleagues, friends, elders, and fellow theatre makers, our collaborators and audiences, they are my fellowship. Why? Because the theatre gives us permission to have agency. The man-made church wants me, a hetero white cis woman, to be submissive to the patriarchal-white-supremacist church. Accommodating and tamed. Neither critical nor curious nor questioning nor challenging. Passive is the part written for me. Admittedly, a privileged role in comparison to those given to my friends and bio/family members who are forced into the margins seeing as they don’t fit neatly into the white passing, heteronormative, gender binary, neurotypical, ableist hegemony.

Growing up in the Bible belt of central Texas—out of a primal desire to belong, and heal my complex trauma— I tried to play the part: passive. Neither critical nor curious nor… but the good news is, I do have agency. (Can I get an Amen?) As I began to mature into a woman, growing in my intuition and wisdom and rage, I started to reject the role I was being groomed for and eventually, I ran away—no— galloped away, bareback, on my metaphorical mustang because I’m a self-proclaimed outlaw. A cowgirl (cowwoman?) forever on the run towards her healing and liberation.

Even still, I do consider myself to be a deeply spiritual person. And a major part of my practice is playwriting. Every phase of the playwriting process: the hermitage, the development, the eventual performance, and everything in between— is a sacred ritual in its own right. As I continue to reckon with the complicated faith of my past, my stories disrupt passivity. And in my journey of healing complex trauma, my stories empower agency. At the convergence of these two identities, my stories dismantle patriarchal Whiteness, in earnest, with radical tenderness.

Stylistically, I would categorize my art as hyperrealistic; wholeheartedly character driven and inherently folksy. My characters passionately combat stereotype by embracing the nuance of idiolects, specificity of desire, poetry of breath and body. The worlds I build diverge from naturalism and realism as they hang in the delicate balance between the intangible otherworldly and the dirt of the Earth. In performance, my plays are a trauma informed healing space that speak to the quietest, hidden, most starved places within. Often, when the alchemy is just right, my plays tap into something larger than itself. It’s undeniable, my art is rooted in my Neo-charismatic origins. Therefore, the art I create in the faith of my womanhood is a sacred ritual. An offering. An altar call of catharsis. It is a visceral kinesthetic communal experience intended to conjure up a portal into the realms beyond the physical, if only for a single fleeting moment.

In full transparency, dear reader, I feel compelled to share with you that as I’ve been sitting here on the porch writing this Testament of Agency; or My Artist Sermon, beneath an idyllic blue sky in the Green Mountains of Vermont worthy to be romanticized, a crimson winged wasp is slowly devouring her prey— a freshly paralyzed grasshopper. Stunned. Grounded. I close by reflecting on the significance of this brutal/euphoric, ephemeral performance.