Collective Editors’ Note: This essay series is by and for the theater community, and hopes to offer regenerative, communal thinking in the face of industry changes. We are providing a brave space for artists and administrators to focus on creating present and future solutions out of, or beyond our past [perceived] failures. This series builds upon Annalisa Dias’ essay Decomposition Instead of Collapse: Dear Theater Leaders Be Like Soil, originally curated and published by Rescripted and Nothing for the Group. To mirror the mycelial intent of this series, we decided to expand our collaboration and partner with 3Views, amplifying this content on multiple platforms. All editing for this series is done on a voluntary basis, and we offer a small honorarium to our writers for their perspectives. We encourage you to support/donate to our platforms so we can continue this important work. Thank you to Stephanie Ybarra, Lauren Halvorsen, and Annalisa Dias for being originating thought partners in this work. This series is published in a commons with 3Views on Theater, Rescripted and NFTG.
You can read Part One of Playing Changes on 3Views, and Part Two below, here on Rescripted.
A note from pharaoh: Re-Membering oneself is a concept I first learned from Daniel Alexander Jones in 2015, on a production of Gem of the Ocean. Borrowed in part from Toni Morrison’s rememory, re-membering is the practice of pulling together oneself from experiences, stories, and the fragmented pieces that are often all we have at our disposal. It’s the act of allowing all of the pieces to arrive at a state of wholeness, and this whole out of the many is a concept critical to be a practitioner of Theatrical Jazz, the practice I would inherit during our time together.
Jones has become a lifelong beacon for me, someone whose signal I will always look for when I’m lost. He has taught me so many lessons of freedom, of how to walk away and do it all over again, how to never lose your audacity, tenacity, or style, and for the love of all that is sacred – to not give up your voice or the ability to think on your own behalf.
This piece has been a growth experience for both of us, as I helped Daniel, who has shaped me so deeply with this examination of his own lineages and teachers, the fruits of which you are about to read. Generated as we each stood at our own thresholds, willing each other to step through. This is the work of “playing changes to new meaning.” The practice of urging each other to open up, to name ourselves, to create something new together. Remember.
The core idea of the series that we’ve cultivated, Decomposition Instead of Collapse, is all about what we will craft even as institutions and cultural bastions are being disrupted and dismantled. This requires a conviction of purpose, or as Jones puts it in his virtual liner notes for the album Aten, “deep faith in the emergence of light from the darkness.” Jones effortlessly weaves these teachings of his mentor Dr. Constance E. Berkley with the current challenges our industry is facing, reminding us ever so sweetly, that we’ve been at this edge, this precipice, this portal, many times before.
PLAYING CHANGES, pt. 2