What We're Reading: March 2020
As members of an organization that believes in the power of conversation to promote systemic change, the team here at The Lark often circulates, among ourselves, anecdotes and emails about materials we've read lately that have moved us. In accordance with our commitment to the amplification of necessary voices that reflect the world we live in, this monthly post compiles some of the media we have been tuned in to, to share with our wider community. We know these are only a sampling of all the insightful work out there, so if we missed anything that had an impact on you this month, we encourage you to share in the comments section!
By Howie Echo-Hawk
"...when [Taika Waititi at the Oscars] acknowledged the Tongva, Tataviam and the Chumash, were there even any of them in the room? Were there any on stage? Were there any getting awards that day? Were there any working for the awards ceremony? Were there any on the voting committees for the awards? Probs not. So, who was that land acknowledgement for?"
A meditation on talk without action, and the importance of making space for work by and for the indigenous community.
By Jerald Raymond Pierce
"...the story was inspired by Bobbie Lea Bennett, a disabled transgender woman who drove from San Diego to Washington, D.C., in 1978 to demand that Medicaid pay for gender affirmation surgery. Emily Driver highlights stories like Bennett’s, and other events in the disability rights movement that led up to the signing of the ADA in 1990, including the Denver ADAPT bus protests.
'I’ll be the first to say as a person with a disability, I did not know about any of these events before working on this production,' says Rowe, who is co-directing the POP Tour show with McRae. 'As a person with a disability, I did not know my own history because it is not taught in public schools.'"
A profile on the educational (in more ways than one) tour of new play Emily Driver’s Great Race Through Time and Space, written by two beloved Larkees, A.A. Brenner and Gregg Mozgala!
How Playwright Lauren Yee Took the Khmer Rouge Genocide and Turned It Into the Joyful Cambodian Rock Band
By Diep Tran
"When Yee met Ngo met in 2013, she had already started working on the play, but wasn't happy with the drafts. 'They kept being plays about victims, which was not something I was very excited by,' Yee explains. Meeting Ngo and hearing him tell his family’s stories was the key to unlocking the work: 'The big revelation with Joe was that joy can be a survival strategy. People who go through traumatic things deal with them in a lot of different ways, and it was a different take on what a surviver might look and sound like.'"
How the lead actor in Cambodian Rock Band and his family's experiences influenced Lauren Yee's writing of Cambodian Rock Band (An LDP! (Lark-Developed Play)).
By Will Wilhelm
"In order to move from the space we’ve been assigned to the space it feels authentic to fill in our personal lives, we have had to (often painfully) detach and disassemble the entire imposing system and then put ourselves back together piece by piece in our own custom manner. Whether the end goal is to occupy another societally constructed identity or not, this work results in the formation of a being who is completely and uniquely their own: undefinable and limitless. This process of evaluation and deep mental exertion makes actors in the trans* community particularly skilled at performing gender. It’s something we produce with intentionality. So why is it so rare to see trans* actors on our nation’s large stages?"
A challenge to the notion that inclusion of trans actors in otherwise cis stories must necessitate some sort of justification, explanation, or commentary on the choice.
By Donny Repsher
"Our institutions carry a scorecard, and diversity is the game we are either winning or losing. When arts organizations proclaim to be “increasing diversity,” what they fail to see, however, is just how haphazardly non-white artists and administrators are being thrust into fundamentally white cultural spaces. We are onboarding new employees into uninterrogated white cultural norms, and it is keeping our white institutions white."
Why we can't stop at "inclusion."
By Andrew Phillips
"The expression “when the time hits you” is used in reference to inmates with long sentences. It’s the moment when long-term incarceration forces an inmate to assess the gravity of his situation... They walk a certain way – boldly. Talk a certain way – freely. The look in their eyes can be best defined by their status – convicted. Most of these people have accepted their realities, to some degree. The prison population does not intimidate them in any way. Rather they are the prison."
Incarcerated playwright Andrew Phillips, a writer with Voices Inside, tells the story of the time his perspective was changed by a guard's comment.