As a kid I did school plays and dance recitals, but mostly because it was required, well I love to dance. I remember one year in middle school, I was in Drama Club, the play that we were working on was doing Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare and I was so over the play that I wanted to quit. Yet, the librarian who was in charge wouldn’t let me! I was acting out so much I had gone to the principal’s office! Anyway in that time of my life performing was fun when it was expressive and fluid instead of structural and dense (no offense Shakes!)
I since have learned that the way I live, create, and express myself needs to be very abstract so that I can thrive and being forced into a concrete lifestyle creates conflict. I am a performer nonetheless, but in performing I need to connect to what I am conveying. In most performances I’ve been in it was a stifling experience. Yet, recently I was in a play rooted in culture and history and I was highly intrigued and moved…
For one of my classes this semester I had the opportunity to audition for a play or visual compilation to get extra credit. I was hesitant because I haven’t performed in such a long time, but I was open to it because who doesn’t want extra credit! The meat of the show was to celebrate Caribbean culture and women. I auditioned to dance but ended up with 3 speaking/ acting parts. Once I got the parts, I grew to further understand the purpose of the performance and the chosen pieces. My Professor Merle Collins choose excepts from well-known Caribbean literature such as Wide Sargasso Sea , Weaving Water, and her own work The Ladies Are Upstairs these contain women protagonist who endure the margins based on their gender and culture. The chosen excerpts of these novels highlight instances of colonial and postcolonial impacts on women in the Caribbean alongside make social commentary on the conditions of that era. The name of the show was “Feast of Words and Movement” ,the show line-up encompassed few of the many facets that celebrate the Caribbean such as dance, poetry, and music. I performed in two poetry pieces, and in the Wide Sargasso Sea except. In the poems I had to be a sister/daughter and a revolutionary escaped slave of Cuban bondage; I was the daughter of an ex-slave owner Antoinette in the novel excerpt. I enjoyed being part of all these pieces. However, I felt a great connection with being the revolutionary escaped slave because it was necessary for me to convey rage and depth to embody the woman who is ready for change, which I am too ready for.
The impactful poem is by Nancy Morejon called Black Woman:
I still smell the foam of the seas they made me cross. The night, I can’t remember it. The ocean itself could not remember that. But I can’t forget the first gull I made out in the distance. High, the clouds, like innocent eye-witnesses. Perhaps I haven’t forgotten my lost coast, nor my ancestral language. They left me here and here I’ve lived. And, because I worked like an animal, here I came to be born. How many Mandinga epics did I look to for strength.
His Worship brought me in a public square. I embroidered His Worships coat and I bore him a male child. My son had no name. And his worship died at the hands of an impeccable English Lord.
This is the land where I suffered mouth-in-the-dust and the lash. I rode the length of all its rivers. Under the sun I planted seeds, brought in the crops, but never ate those harvests. A slave barracks was my house, built with stones that I hauled myself . While I sang to the pure beat of native birds.
I rose up.
In this same land I touched the fresh blood and decayed bones of many others, brought to this land or not, the same as I. I no longer dreamt of the road to Guinea. Was it Guinea? Benin? To Madagascar? Or Cape Verde?
I walked on and on.
I strengthened the foundations of my millenary song and of my hope.
I left for the hills.
My real independence was the free slave fort and I rode with the troops of Maceo. Only a century later, together with my descendants, from a blue mountain
I came down from the Sierra.
to put an end to capital and usurer, to generals and to bourgeois. Now I exist: only today do we own, do we create. Nothing is foreign to us. The land is ours. Ours the sun and the sky, the magic and the vision. Compañeros, here I see you dance around the tree we are planting for communism. Its prodigal wood resounds.
I performed the last stanza while standing on a block overlooking the audience. I was told that I was captivating( even though I was super nervous because I was the last part of the play) while I hoping I did the poem justice. This experience taught me a lot about working with others that it is crucial to not butt-heads when working for a common goal, the methods of completion isn’t relevant when each person involved contributes a crucial part no one is more favored, there is no right or wrong way to reach the end goal. This also brought to light how people work as individuals vs. how they work in a team. I personally learned from this experience that I need to embrace my talents and connect more with my emotions since i consider myself an artist.
With all this said I can now say I dabble in most art mediums: painting, photography,music/singing, dance, poetry/writing, fashion, and THEATER.
Tell me what you do?