Research and Creative Activity
Three main points of investigation surface throughout my creative work and research: 1) community, social justice, civic responsibility, and global citizenry, 2) applied voice and movement training for the actor, and 3) the intersection of Eastern and Western actor training practices. Questions that drive my work include: What does it mean to witness/to bear witness/to be a witness to something? How is terror a primal driving force of humanity? How does myth-making mitigate terror? How can I honor diverse cultures without engaging in cultural appropriation or exploitation? What can theatre teach us about communitas, global citizenry, and effective self-presentation?
My creative practice takes the form of intercultural physical theatre, devised theatre, social action theatre, applied theatre, and digital technology in performance. I create visceral experiences that traverse culture and investigate the primal force of terror, yugen or the profound, dark beauty of the universe, and the edges of intimacy. I aim to disrupt passive spectatorship through the use of language, movement, audience interaction, digital technology, and the dramaturgy of the space. In French, “to see a play” is translated as “assister à une pièce du théâtre.” I, therefore, challenge spectators to “assist” and actively engage in their relationship with a performance event. This has led to projects such as Love and Information, Metamorphoses, and #LookUp.
Through Barter and research in applied voice and movement training I build spaces of agency, belonging, and self-actualization. Barter is community-based theatre in which performers and spectators exchange cultural acts and personal abilities through some type of performance. Barter, as I practice it, is social action theatre. It is uniquely effective in giving those with no freedom, no voice, and, sometimes, no identity a practical way to relearn and reclaim themselves. Barter, thus, provides a distinctive platform for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I have used Barter in working with impoverished and disenfranchised groups such as Oklahoman prisoners and poor children in rural Texas. Future plans include creating barter with indigenous and impoverished communities in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
My work in applied voice and movement training has led to conference presentations, workshops, and the development of a course titled “Presence and Performance.” This course aims at using acting, voice, and movement skills to help individuals advance their presence at work and in the world. I question notions of presence and what it means to have “it”/ that indeterminable ability to captivate an audience. I believe that “it” is teachable and trainable. I guide students and workshop attendees to practice vocal dexterity and physical awareness in developing self-confidence, self-awareness, and a personal practice of “it.”
I have presented papers, workshops, and performances at conferences hosted by the Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the Texas Educational Theatre Association, the Lessac Research and Training Institute, and the Margolis Method Center. Recent conference presentations explored the intersection of Noh Theatre and Lessac vocal work, Margolis Method as embodied pedagogy training for educators, and enhancing pedagogical impact through voice and movement in the classroom. I am currently working on two articles; one examines Barter as utopic performance and the other defines the theatre movement educator as it differs from the dance educator.
Creatively, I am currently developing a project entitled Lady O.G. based on the life and works of playwright, actress, and activist Olympe de Gouges. Future projects are inspired by Joseph Campbell’s statement that a myth is a public dream and a dream is a private myth. One project interrogates the phenomena of sleeping, dreaming, and insomnia and asks: If we don’t sleep or dream, do we cease to make myths and/or do we cease to be a part of the collective unconscious? The second project examines the new normal of post-COVID times and asks: What myths have emerged in response to the terror of COVID-19, and what has the pandemic taught us regarding one’s civic responsibility(ies) and global citizenry? As with all of my work, these projects aim for audiences to reimagine their definition of community and their social, civic, and global responsibility(ies). Rather than “sit back, relax, and enjoy,” I want spectators to lean into the performance and to emerge newly invested in themselves and in their community(ies).