Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

Then La Niña de Los Peines got up like a madwoman, trembling like a medieval mourner, and drank, in one gulp, a huge glass of fiery spirits, and began to sing with a scorched throat, without voice, breath, colour, but…with duende. She managed to tear down the scaffolding of the song, but allow through a furious, burning duende, friend to those winds heavy with sand, that make listeners tear at their clothes with the same rhythm as the Negroes of the Antilles in their rite, huddled before the statue of Santa Bárbara.

The arrival of the duende presupposes a radical change to all the old kinds of form, brings totally unknown and fresh sensations, with the qualities of a newly created rose, miraculous, generating an almost religious enthusiasm.

-- Federico García Lorca, “Theory and Play of the Duende”

Around the time I first encountered Lorca’s concept of duende, I had just written what would later become the first monologue in my first play, but I didn’t know it yet. It started as a persona poem in a workshop and became an obsession. I wrote in the voice of Ntozake Shange’s beau willie brown, feverishly, day after day, long after my classmates had moved on to sestinas and haiku. My goal was to discover the humanity in for colored girls’ monster, to raise beau willie out of the realm of stereotype and one-dimensionality, to create fractals of perspective. When I finished, I read it over and over
quizzically, knowing it was too long to read at the local open mic. I tucked it away and allowed it to collect dust on my hard drive for a little over a year. In that year, I continued my pursuits of poetry and acting, and one night, in full cliché form, I sat up in bed at 4am and realized that I didn’t know what to do with this monolith of a monologue because it wasn’t just a persona poem, it was the opening scene of my first play.

Since then, it has been my artistic project to challenge form by further pushing how theatre can be infused with poetry and hip-hop. I find that this is keyed into my thematic project, which is always to examine race, sex, gender, and class and the intersectionality therein from multiple perspectives. I find that, like a mixtape—where rhythm, tempo, melody, and lyric are carefully curated, collaged, and blended—this poetic writing style lends itself well to those thematic aims. In each of my plays, I tackle
the taboo, attempt to subvert expectations, and most importantly, challenge audiences
to continue the dialogues raised by the obstacles and relationships explored onstage. My
commitment to theatre is my commitment to this engagement, and the sincere belief
that change can be effected by provoking critical thought on difficult issues through art
and live performance.