The first weekend of August, dog & pony dc launched the creation of our first new production in nearly three years with an intensive devising weekend. This yet-to-be titled show is being created and will be performed entirely by a non-male-identifying ensemble. Fifteen female and one gender fluid identifying artists gathered for two and a half days of discussion and devising. Our primary goal was to generate content for this new performance, which will premiere as part of the Women’s Voices Theatre Festival in February 2018. We would be exploring objectification and how women and/or female bodies serve or are in service, hopefully learn some new things, and have a little fun. Reporting out on the experience proved to be a near-impossible task, so Ringleader Ivania Stack was kind enough to share the following list.
Ivania’s List of Memories/ Discoveries/Impressions:
- Picking up Annie Wiegand at the train station Friday afternoon, and immediately feeling that sense of kindred spirit-ness with her.
- Looking around the room on Friday evening, and feeling peaceful, in the company of so many incredible artists.
- Wondering if I feel quite as peaceful in a room dominated by cisgender, white, male artists
- Recognizing the way a diverse devising session seems to take away a lot of the social anxiety I often have in large groups.
- Rejoicing in a room with almost as many Deaf artists as hearing artists, and all communicating beautifully.
- Welcoming a gender fluid artist into a collaboration about women’s issues, and thinking about bringing more gender diversity into the room. (Though maybe not cisgender males?) Continuing to learn the many ways in which feminism is not binary.
- Talking about how the objectification of women’s bodies affects each woman individually. Learning how it particularly affects Women of Color, and Women who are Deaf, and how age changes the ways in which we are objectified. And how we [cisgender people] can talk about all of this and work towards being inclusive of how transgender and gender fluid individuals experience objectification as well.
- Embracing the challenge of inventing a structure in which artists can create to their fullest potential. It is so rewarding when our (meaning mine and Rachel Grossman‘s) plans work, and are exceeded by those artists in every way.
- Needing (occasionally) to give myself a stern reminder that I am not a trained drama therapist.
- Seeing how the 55-word stories became through-lines, and how images and themes from those stories wound their way into fairy tales and comic book heroines.
- Creating a 8 year old comic book heroine who fights toxic masculinity!
- Being excited that campfire storytime is a great, low threshold way of combining fairy tales, audience integration, and sign language!
- Realizing that I love those moments when one artist (in a devising conversation) says: why don’t we get up and just try it! (often this weekend the artist was Tosin Olufolabi) And suddenly everyone is on their feet, activating the idea.
- Taking so much joy in seeing the joyous reunion of several artists (the Women of Gallaudet University) from across the country.
- Enjoying when particular artists are paired/ grouped up, and they just take off, whether they are tackling a devising experiment, or running the ship!
- Having a sweet little dog in a devising session was awesome, too!
Artists involved in this weekend of devising: Amelia Hensley, Annalisa Dias, Annie Wiegand, Carrie Suggs, Carol Spring, Casey Johnson-Pasqua, Cody Whitfield, Ivania Stack*, Jessica Cancino, Kerry McGee*, Lorraine Ressegger-Slone*, Michelle Mary Schaefer, Ouida Maedel, Rachel Grossman*, Sandra Mae Frank, Tosin Olufolabi
*indicates dog & pony dc ensemble members
All photos by Ryan Maxwell, except for group photo.