When did you discover that theatre could be more than entertainment?
It wasn’t until I was a senior at Baylor University that I was like, “What I’m going to do with these majors?” Someone came up to me and said, “Have you ever heard of applied theatre?” He gave me this book by Augusto Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed, and he revealed to me that theatre could be more than just entertainment.
What felt so liberating was that this tool [theatre] could be used for so much more. I now do work as a consultant sometimes, not even in theatre; I build cross sectors in different fields that need creative space. I’ve worked with NGOs, international and national mediators, and peace-building educators in Iraq and social work.
Have you been able to use your theatre tools for social justice work?
It feels like now there is no way that I do work anymore that isn’t inherently attached to social justice. I had the privilege of working with this incredible playwright and performer Alex Alpharaoh on WET: A DACAmented Journey.
I got this random call from LA. Somehow, they found out about my name. He said, “Just so you know, my piece is not political,” and my response was, “I hear what you mean, in that you mean that you don’t want this piece to end up being so polarizing that it alienates people from listening to your profound story.” But I had to challenge him on this. He was a DACA recipient and about to travel all across the country in Trump’s America. There was fear of deportation every time.
I had to pause and say, “this work is political; it means that you need protection,” and so my job as a director would be, how can we safely get you to tell this story and how can we be mindful and thoughtful of how challenging it might be for you to move around and stay safe? So we took it on this national tour, and it’s living and thriving.