“The place in which I'll fit will not exist until I make it.”
― James Baldwin
That pretty much sums up my entire life. From not fitting in throughout school to the type of theatre I write as a professional. I have often had to create the spaces that I fit. Whether it be writing the the type of work that I would have liked to see in my childhood or making sure quirky, yet strong Black girls get their love story. My whole thing (right now) is creating a sense of belonging. So, when I approached Stephen Miranda, one of Houston's most saught-after directors to direct a workshop reading of Delivery, I know that I would get the opportunity to create a space for my words to belong.
After all, working with Miranda last year on Fae and Paciencia, opened my eyes to the process of rewrites, getting into your characters and the building not just the words but the world of the play. So, I knew that after working with him, I'd leave with the tools for building a stronger piece of work. He takes the time to talk to you, pull your work apart and give you a map for bringing it back together. That's why working with Miranda is such an experience, because he doesn't just tell you "Oh, this is great" but he equips you with the tools to make your work great.
This reading was also an opportunity to work with my high school theatre teacher, Ms. Minard. We hosted the evening in her yoga space. It was truly an honor because this is the women that inspired me to pursue the arts. She showed me Chicago in the 9th grade, took us to UIL competitions and had us performing all over the school. Looking back and having been a theatre teacher myself, I realize she worked extremely hard to make our experience. But thanks to her Drama Club was a place where I fit in and learned it was okay to stand out. And there she was in my reading!
Sitting in rehearsals listening to my words over and over again was exhausting. I was confronted with the holes, mistakes and questions that this new work has. But I was also forced to sit with pieces of myself, my students and my community for hours on end. I was encouraged to think about the why of this play. Why now? What is so important about Murdr, Mani and Javier's voices? Why is Ms. Tolivar needed? These are questions I'm still figuring out the answers to.
And the actors. Aside from bringing it, they were the most thoughtful bunch of individuals. Each of them brought their visions of what this world looked, sounded and felt like. How they felt the characters moved, dressed and talked. Working with professional actors is always a treat, because they help the play become better. Not only do they help you to see the play on its feet, but they help you to see the character traits, details and beauty of your story better. Writers are nothing without the actors that commit themselves to the roles and the stories.
MURDR - Dustin Salinas
JAVIER - Nasir (Mo) Villanueva
MANI - Estee Burkes
MAMA - Arianna Bermudez
MS. TOLIVAR - Jill Minard
Please go and check them out on stage and screens near you.
I am grateful to everyone who came out to see the work. You don't know how much that meant to me. I plan to continue working this script, because there are a few (READ: Many) kinks in the plot line, the characters and the story. But the excitment is so real.
Thank you to Scriptworks for the SEED grant that helped to make this happen.