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Imani Uzuri, May Adrales, and Zakiyyah Alexander all smilling, standing in front of a red curtain
Imani Uzuri, May Adrales, and Zakiyyah Alexander in rehearsals for "girl shakes loose her skin"

I have come to The Lark, and arrived at its doors as a student, as a director, as an innovator, as a community member, and as a staff member. I have arrived at its doors energized; I have arrived at its doors anxious; I have arrived at its doors stressed, tired.  I have arrived at its doors joyful, ready for change, ready for play. Today, I arrive at its doors in a combination of all those things – still a student, still a director, still an innovator, still joyous, energized, anxious, uncertain. But always, when I have walked through the doors of The Lark, and then out into the world,  I have felt held, heard, seen and transformed.  Today the doors are signified by a link and a virtual doorbell. But The Lark is a spirit; it’s a doorway to a beautiful community; it’s a transformation.

I remember in the early days, I asked John why it was named The Lark.  He described the steep ascent of the Skylark, shooting into the air, hundreds of feet above the ground.  A majestic image of a bird defying rules of physics—an image fitting for the Lark’s noble enterprise. Upon my homecoming, I realized that not only does the Skylark ascend to these heights, but it does so while singing. It is the only bird that sings while it flies. This is the powerful journey of the artist, flying higher than imaginable and hovering at that high perch to look at the world from that view, gaining critical insight and perspective of the world below before its descent and singing.  Creating story and telling story. 

Story itself is a transformation.  Because I have a daughter and yet have no idea how to parent, I read a lot about child development.  I’m struck by how many books encourage parents to retell or narrate personal experience with their child.  The act of story actually, physically connects the emotion and imagination of the right brain to the rational language based aspects of the left brain.  The act of telling a story makes you whole.  It makes you heard. What I ask as I step through this doorway as Artistic Director, is for you, my community, to help me tell The Lark’s story.  

What we are doing is radical.  The Lark seemingly defies all laws of capitalism and how organizations should run.  We support the uniqueness and profoundness of storytellers. We celebrate process – because at its core, we believe that the ascent and descent is fundamental to creation, to song, to story.  It’s radical because we encourage artists to lead their own creative processes.  We support the changemakers, not simply propagating existing models for how to make and produce theater.   

By believing in the power and impact of the individual artist, we are a nexus between theater and cultural change.  We work to tell stories across the human experience.  We build a system of artistic and community support around playwrights who have been historically underrepresented in order to change who will be historically represented.

The cornerstone of my vision is advocacy and advancement. Having a broad base of support from the national theater community, I am already in discussion with producing theaters who may be interested in supporting Lark playwrights and collaborating with our global exchange programs and portfolio of fellowships. I am working to identify audiences and building a community of fans and stakeholders around an artist’s work. However, advocacy is more than scoring one production; it’s about launching that voice into the canon of theatrical work and interweaving that voice into our cultural landscape. Advocacy is community building. Our community aspires to be radically inclusive and supportive of artists and theater makers.  We aim to build intentional, authentic deep relationships with producing theaters, social justice organizations and specific communities touched by the play at hand.  We are a gathering place for artists to show up as their whole self.  We provide a space where differing ideas can be vigorously debated and a place for shared grief, joy and frustration. 

In my years working with The Lark, I have learned that how plays are created also serve as a model for how to live.  We start from a place of abundance, collaboration, playfulness and joy; we respect, care and embrace the unique gifts of every member; we bring out the best – the most creative, innovative and vulnerable part—of each person. This process makes for great art, but also serves as a model for how we might all be better citizens in the world.

I encourage you to be a part of our story—come play with us, engage with us and support us in the many beautiful ways you do.   Thank you for working to sustain our community through your artistic support, your financial support and, most importantly, by showing up.  I look forward to and crossing these thresholds together.