Livestreamed on this page on Thursday 30 April 2020 at 3:15 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 5:15 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 6:15 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 20:15 p.m. BST (London, UTC+1) / 21:15 p.m. CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).
Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration: Prefigurative Spaces
hosted by Unsettling Dramaturgy: Crip & Indigenous Dramaturgies.
Unsettling Dramaturgy presented Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration: Prefigurative Spaces livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 30 April 2020 at 3:15 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 5:15 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 6:15 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC-4) / 20:15 p.m. BST (London, UTC+1) / 21:15 p.m. CEST (Berlin, UTC+2).
Jill Carter: Hello, bonjour, and anii, welcome to Unsettling Dramaturgy's third Praxis Session for Virtual Collaboration. In this four part series, we are addressing approaches to, and practices in online convening that center unsettling, decolonization, indigenization, and disability justice in process design. This series emerges from our year plus work and research in transnational convening and creative collaboration through virtual mediums. This series has been developed as our response to the turn towards online organizing that has followed the COVID-19 crisis. We have titled this session, prefigurative--
Phone A.I.: Here's what I found.
Jill: We have titled this session, prefigurative Spaces or Practicing the Future We Imagine. Through this session, we will discuss current creative projects and protocols that set a new cultural standard, where accessibility, Cripping and indigenization of process design in virtual collaboration and beyond, are approached as a living process of ongoing negotiation. Now, I would like to pass this over to one of the three other lovely narrators of this session, Jessica Schacht.
Jessica Schacht: *, hello, my name is Jessica. I am here to introduce a little bit about Unsettling Dramaturgy, our project. Can everyone hear me okay? I'm seeing nods, thank you. As you'll see later, part of our process is about access needs and part of my access needs are that I am the primary caregiver for my four month old baby that is currently with me. So yes, Unsettling Dramaturgy is an ongoing project bringing together Crip and Indigenous dramaturgs from across so-called Canada and the United States, who work in theater, dance, and experimental performance. Using digital platforms, we gather to build relationships, to explore and document the critical convergences and divergences in our experiences and work, to amplify Crip and Indigenous aesthetics, ethics, practices, and leadership in our local, national and international performance ecologies. We push the conversations from inclusion to centering from reconciliation to unsettling and decolonization. This project proposes a continuation of the thriving legacies of leadership and innovation that shape Indigenous and Crip dramaturgies but in a whole new way, by bringing together artists from communities that have been historically excluded from mainstream performance ecologies, and which have been further siloed into spaces, sorry, of making, that have systematically prevented critical cross-community collaboration. We are dismantling those silos to advance emerging conversations exploring the conflux of leadership and representation in creation and production, as related to Indigenous sovereignty and Deaf, Mad and disability culture in the arts. We are generating a platform for self-determined encounter and exchange, where our local bodies of knowledge can be activated. It bears importance to share that this project does not aim to collapse Crip and Indigenous dramaturgies and experiences. The exclusions that our communities face emerge from very specific historical, cultural and political contexts. Further, the ableism, sanism, and audism that Deaf, Disabled and Mad artists face, emerge from colonial ways of assigning value and human dignity. We use Crip to include those who identify as Mad, sick and Disabled, as well as those who are deemed Disabled by society and/or medical institutions, whether or not they themselves accept that term. For example those for whom Deafness is a cultural identity not a medical condition. We use the word Crip as a political intervention, to turn attention onto and to disrupt, as our collaborator Carmen Papalia writes, "The disabling conditions that limit a person "and/or community's agency and potential to thrive." We use Indigenous with an acknowledgement of the many complex ways that community, family, belonging, polity, and heritage interact with systems of state recognition. The words Crip and Indigenous are both used as shorthand and are not intended to generalize or reduce our vast multiplicity of identities, experiences and affiliations. This project is generously supported by the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas's Bly Creative Capacity Grant, and the Canada Council for the Arts. Huge shout out to our partner HowlRound which is live streaming today's event for us, merci.
Claudia Alick: Excellent, I'm Claudia, and I'm just going to give you an overview of today's session. So following this opening, Unsettling Dramaturgy Creative Collaborators will engage in an exchange on our theme. We're gonna speak from our different embodied knowledges and practices, with an orientation towards expanding collective practice as it's relevant to your local ecologies. And then we're gonna take a 10 minute break on the hour, we believe in taking breaks, healthy breaks. We will then activate some of what has been discussed through live facilitation of threshold practice, and we are very excited to have Tiare Jung join us today, Tiare will be digitally visually recording this event for us, they joined us in our last session and the work is just beautiful. At various moments, during this event, Tiare will share the visual record they are creating and this will be visually described for everyone. And the last piece we wanna share with you is that we wanna make sure that you, the people who are viewing this, are interacting with us so throughout this session, we'd love to be able to hear your questions and your reflections. To interact with us during this event, you can use one of the three options. Text or voice message us on WhatsApp at 1-803-323-7638. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment on the the livestream on the Unsettling Dramaturgy Facebook page and our Dramaturgy co-coordinators, Mia and Roo, will be checking these accounts throughout the session. And as we are sharing our own stories, we will be inviting you to now or even later, email us your stories that're inspired by this process. I will hand the microphone back to Jill to share about our accessibility practice for today's session.
DeLesslin “Roo” George-Warren: Jill, I think you are muted.
Claudia: Jill you're muted.
Jill: My apologies to everybody. I am so sorry, I was just muted but I'm here now. So to honor all abilities and all peoples and to ensure as widespread inclusivity as possible, we are live captioned and we are ASL interpreted. CART or C-A-R-T is available on the HowlRound live stream and here at https://recapd.com/w-bfDPLb. I think that's also probably given to you, I hope it's being given to you. ASL Interpretation is available on both the Facebook and HowlRound live streams. We do want to note, however, that the ASL English interpretation serves to facilitate communication but it does not constitute an authentic record of the original signed and/or spoken language. Only the original signed and/or spoken language or the revised written translation is considered authentic, for our purposes here. ASL interpretation and C-A-R-T, are essential elements of how we've built this event. They are vital and indispensable access practices and they require input from Deaf folks to do well. They are also complex and complicated to navigate in online forums, which points to the limits of the programs and systems we are using, that don't consider or make space for accessibility across a multiplicity of practices and needs. This also points to Crip commitment, to working within and challenging imperfect systems in order to honor the value that comes from cross disability solidarity work and community building. We will remain in an emergent and responsive shape throughout today's event, adjusting our pace and the shape of our conversation to reflect the pace and shape of all collaborators. We will name our access needs at the top of the event and again as they arise throughout our time together. We want to acknowledge that trauma is in the room. In doing this, we also want to acknowledge that all of us have established practices of care for ourselves and that we want to honor, including those care practices that have been pathologized but have done important work. We invite everyone here, Unsettling Dramaturgy and everyone tuning in live, to take care of yourself in whatever way necessary. Everyone is welcome to vocalize, use technology, stim, move around or leave and return throughout the event. No raising of hands here. Teacher, may I? Also, learning from the Disabled artists and organizers of the festival, I want to be with you everywhere, in New York, we want to acknowledge those who can't be here and may never be here, because of inequitable and inaccessible structures and the ways these realities bump up against our embodied needs and experiences. You are so, so welcome and appreciated and such an important part of our community. A recording of this event will be available for future viewing through the Unsettling Dramaturgy Facebook and on the HowlRound website. And now, back to Claudia.
Claudia: Thank you so much Jill. We're going to take this opportunity to, as is our practice, introduce ourselves. We will be sharing our name and our location and our pronouns and a physical description of where we are and who we are, we're going to do a land acknowledgment. We'll share our access needs and then introduce some aspect of our work and practice. And then at the very end of that process, I will do a more global online acknowledgment for a Zoom platform. To begin, I will model. My name is Claudia Alick. My gender pronouns are they, their, she, hers, you can use those interchangeably. I am located in the Bay Area, which is the land of the Ohlone people, the people are still alive. I also like to take this moment to acknowledge all of those who are currently incarcerated and all of those who have been incarcerated in the past. And all of those enslaved in the past and in the present. I am an African American woman with black braids. I'm wearing a red T-shirt that says, "Health care is a human right," and I am sitting with a Zoom background of a pretend black box theater in my background. I have a muscle disorder, so that means sometimes I might be looking off in an opposite direction or pulling a face but I'm never pulling a face at anything anyone is saying. And other than that, all of my access needs are met and my practice is a transmedia social justice practice, so I am producing performances of justice online, on stage, in real life and it is hugely dramaturgical 'cause in order to change these things, we gotta figure out why we are doing them. And my body is stressed, it is full of tension and my brain chemicals are stressed and I don't have enough dopamine and I think there's too much cortisol in my brain. But other than that, I am doing well. And I will pass the introductory microphone, I'm gonna pass it to Tara actually, if that's all right?
Tara Moses: Hi, this is Tara Moses, my pronouns are she, her, hers, I am calling in from Osage Cherokee and Muscogee nations and also the site of the 1921 burning of Black Wall Street that is also known as Tulsa, Oklahoma to some folks, not these folks. And, yes, so physical description. I have very long, blue-black, dark brown hair and medium brown skin. I'm wearing a bright yellow shirt and behind me you'll see pieces of a blue couch and blue and white throw pillows. My access needs are currently being met. And then, in regards to a nugget about my practice, I am a director, a playwright, an artistic director and a dramaturg that centers around predominantly, my communities of Seminole Muscogee nations. Yes, and then finally, how I am feeling. I am very overwhelmed, my day job is in non-profit fundraising and this is not a great time to be doing that because of all of the emergency needs and all of that. Anyway, so I am very overwhelmed, I hope my work is on pause during this so if I have to duck out, I will let you know and I appreciate the grace with that. Anyway, yeah, that's it, I'm very excited to be here and to hear what my co-collaborators and artists with your expertise and knowledge and also to hear from all of you and your stories. Great, do, do, do, do. So from there, I will pass it to whomever wants to go next. , DeLesslin George-Warren. Unsettling Dramaturgy. Hi everyone, my name is DeLesslin George-Warren, but I've been called Roo like kangaroo since I was a fetus. I am a citizen of Catawba Nation, we call ourselves the Iswa, the people of the river because we've lived along the Catawba River since, we'd say, the world began. I gave the traditional introduction so I told you who my family is, so my mother Wanda George-Warren was our tribal administrator for almost a decade, my grandfather was our Assistant Chief for almost 30 years. And I also told you what I do, so in Catawba, I describe my work , which is a word that means both teacher and artist because if you are a potter, someone who makes pottery which is our oldest unbroken tradition, then you're also defacto, a pottery teacher. So a lot of the work that I do is looking at how art is an educational practice, how performance is an educational practice and how education is an artistic practice and how education's a performative practice. So I'm constantly trying to, in my own mind, break down the separation between those ideas and think about how I can integrate them fully. I also gave thanks to the beautiful land that I live on. I live on our Green Earth reservation which is on our traditional lands. It fills me with a lot of joy and certainty and hope to be where my people have been for a really long time and I am recognizing the privileges that come with that. My pronouns, I use he, him, they, them but any pronoun said with earnestness and love, I'm open to. Physical description, so I have white skin, I have an increasingly unkempt beard in this time of COVID. I'm wearing a white shirt with cute little flowers all over it and behind me you see a matching sets of floral drapes over my window. And I'm also wearing a yellow hat with a rose on it which I bought 'cause I thought it was cute and then realized it was promotional material from "Beauty and the Beast." So I actually went and tried to rip out some of the stitches on the back which said, originally, "I only date beasts." And so I've changed it to, "I only ate beasts" and that's because my hair is also increasingly crazy, right now and increasingly wild rather, that's more accurate. Access needs so Mia and myself, we're both co-coordinators for this project and so, in these Praxis sessions, we're acting as moderators so we're looking at three different windows, different screens, different streams of information coming in and so, my video might be muted or stopped sometimes, as I'm addressing those other pulls in this moment. My work, so I mentioned before, kind of how I think about my work, in more concrete terms, what I do is, I consult for my tribal nation on a variety of projects including educational sovereignty, food sovereignty, language reclamation and pretty much anything else that my community might need, that I have the capacity to help with. I also in pre-COVID times, before these times, travel a lot to speak on just a wide variety of topics which I find problematic being traveled places at a huge carbon footprint to speak for 25 minutes to an hour, that doesn't seem sustainable to me. So I've addressed all that. How I am doing. So I am, I think I said this before the thing started, but I'm feeling very tender in the sense of being tenderized by all of the needs and the pulls on my time right now. We are very lucky because there's a huge amount of money coming from the federal government, not an adequate amount of money but a large amount of money coming from the federal government, to our tribal community to address COVID but at the same time, there's still restrictions being put on how we access that, namely through grant writing which just requires a huge amount of time to put together. And so I'm, in one heart, grateful for that, another part very frustrated for that, for having to constantly demonstrate why we need something. Why we are deserving of these resources, when a large chunk of North Carolina, South Carolina, and the United States are built on our stolen lands. All of that to say, I'm just very fatigued, yesterday was particularly hard. Today was better but still exhausting. I'm very grateful that I've been able to get outside and work in our gardens, spend time with our other-than-human relatives, namely the plants, I think I planted 125 feet of corn, our traditional corn today, which felt like a prayer in a way. But also, that's part of the reason that I'm speaking very slowly and deliberately, is trying to remember that we have all of the time that we need, and so, before you know, I kind of pass the mic, I just really wanna invite people to take three breaths with me just a long inhale and exhale. Inhale, exhale. Yeah, so I am gonna mute myself and I'm gonna pass it on to whoever feels like they'd like to go next.
Jessica: Unmute, sorry. My name is Jessica again. I'm Metis Canadian living as an uninvited guest on the traditional territory of the Cowichan nature, also know as Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island, part of the Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group, currently in stage five treaty negotiations. I'm very grateful to live here in Quw'utsun', known as the Warmlands. There's a beautiful river nearby and it is keeping me grounded. My pronouns are she, her and physical description? I have long, dark hair that is currently up in a bun where it is many of the days these days. Today, I am wearing large gold rimmed glasses. I have tanned skin, dark brown eyes. I'm wearing a plaid blouse that has puffy sleeves and is pink and yellow and I Made it myself whilst in quarantine. So I've been grateful to be able to channel some creative energy into that. I'm in my living room, there are pink curtains behind me, my beautiful Norfolk pine and peace lily and I'm sitting on a gray couch with a sheepskin behind me and you may see my constant companion, my four month old baby, who's with me as well, that plays into my access needs, I am tending to a tiny human so responsive to their needs as they arise. Other than that, I may need to come and go, but other than that, my access needs are currently met. I'm doing well, I'm always excited to be here. It's been hard these past few weeks, days, time blends together, but I'm finding that having these projects and things that are going on is very helpful to give meaning to the days and structure in a sense, to the days. So I'm always grateful to meet here with this amazing collective. My practice, I work primarily as a dramaturg on new and Indigenous work, I'm specifically interested in process design and new ways of making, so I'm very excited about today's conversation. I have been grateful to work across disciplines, in theater, dance, and opera, and I am happy to challenge the intersection that I find myself at as an Indigenous artist working with colonial structures and institutions. I'm grateful that I have had opportunities to indigenize practice with my work. I believe that is all I would like to say at this moment. Check.
Carmen Papalia: Hi everybody, it's Carmen here. I'm calling in from the unseated and occupied territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish people. Yeah, I use he, him, his pronouns. In terms of a description? I have olive colored skin and an increasingly unkept beard that's black, dark colored, I've a flat cap on that's brown, a beige sweater and a gray colored shirt. Yeah, in terms of access needs, I feel like all my access needs are pretty much being met. I rely on description, visual description so I really appreciate everyone's descriptions. I guess just one little note about using the chat because I use screen reading software, I hear whatever's going on in the chat in a robotic voice and that is layered on top of people speaking so, sometimes I might just be a little distracted if there's activity in the chat when we're engaging discussion. And if there are any other screen reader users who are finding that a little distracting, I've noticed that you can just tap somewhere else on your screen and it like cuts the message that's going on on the chat, so. So that's what I have been doing. Yeah, I guess the way that I'm feeling, well, I've been in bed for a little while, so I'm just coming out of like this maybe being out sick for about five days with a flare up of my pain condition, so I'm still holding a bit of that pain, I might be moving around for comfort and maybe grabbing my heating pad and other such things. Yeah, so feeling a bit tired. A little overwhelmed at this point in the coronavirus sort of situation. I mean, I guess I've been really enjoying going out for night walks and smelling flowers that are in bloom right now, out in my neighborhood, I feel like the smell or the scent carries like at night for some reason in this really interesting way and it's just been real nice going alone but also with my wife and our under two year old, as well. And having family time here's just been really nice with our daughter. And a bit about my work, I consider, well I do socially engaged work, I'm a multi-disciplinary artist. I describe myself as a non-visual artist 'cause I use my non-visual senses as a primary way of navigating my surroundings. I don't use words like blind or visually impaired to describe myself because I think those terms still privilege visual experience and I've Made an intentional choice to shift value away from the visual to the non-visual. A lot of my work is about accessibility, it's about the conditions of my own access in various contexts, it's about expanding and broadening conversations about accessibility, deepening commitments to accessibility and really thinking about accessibility as an ongoing living practice, of like constant negotiation with others in our communities. What I really think that my work does is make opportunities for folks to model new practices in the area of accessibility, so model care, model trust with each other, really establish caring communities where people aren't just relying on sort of institutions to deliver the care they need but they're really collaborating so that's like a collective effort with their communities. So yeah, is there anything else that I'm missing there, in terms of introduction? I'm excited to be here, thank you. And yeah, and glad to be able to gather here and spend this time talking about accessibility and prefigurative spaces as well, and politics, thanks.
Jill: Anii, bonjour, [non-English greeting], kwe kwe. [Jill gives an introduction in Anishinaabe language.] My name is Jill Carter, I'm a mixed blood Anishinaabe and Ashkenazi woman. My pronouns in English, zhaaganaashiimowin, are she and her and I guess I don't got pronouns in my own language, anishnaabemowin. We don't distinguish in our language, so, there you are. So call me whatever you want, whenever you want, just call me. Before I do my land acknowledgment I'll just, actually, no, I'll start with a land acknowledgment and background. So I am calling you, speaking to you from Tkaronto, a Mohawk word for where the trees grow out of the water and you can see this background, for those of you that are able, might see this background behind me which is a picture I took of Ontari'io, the beautiful lake for which the province Ontario is named. I took it last year in the spring, around this time I would say in 2019, when the waters were high. And I took it because I was fascinated that the trees that had once been on a beach were now growing out of the water, Takaronto. This place has been stewarded for thousands of years by the Petun, the Erie, the Wyandot or the Tobacco people, more recently by the Wyandot people, by the Haudenosaunee people, the people of the longhouse and specifically within that longhouse, the people of the Seneca and Cayuga nations and of course, more recently even, the Mississaugic or Mississauga Anishinaabek, who entered into A Dish With One Spoon treaty, with the Haudenosaunee to share this land. My work is, I'm an educator and a theater practitioner. I specifically perform, direct, do some dramaturgy and try to do some writing. I also... That is all I'm going to say about my work for now. I guess I just would like to take a moment to reflect, not only on the place I'm calling you from but the time in which we are all meeting each other, which is the fifth moon of creation. [Anishnaabe language 38:05], a blossoming moon, down south here in Takaronto or Toronto. [With an accent] Tarantah. [Laughs.] [Anishnaabe language 38:25], the flowering moon. And I think of that because I think a lot about locating myself in the time and place, so coming out of a deep sleep, coming out of the winter, coming out into a deep thaw but not quite there, in suspended animation. As if just ready to pop into life and bloom forth. It's a beautiful time I think to reflect. A time of reflection before we go forth into the wildness of summer, of our summer wandering, wandering lustful in all senses, lives. But I also think isn't it interesting that we're in this time now of suspended animation during the COVID crisis, where we sit and we wait for what we don't know. Lately on my own evening walks, I've been observing Venus, who hangs so brightly, at least from where I am. Maybe other people have different experiences of Venus, depending where you are in the planet and the moment. But she hangs like this globe in the sky. And I keep waiting for her to drop. And as I wait for her to drop, I think about sky woman and that creation story and I've been thinking a lot, actually, strangely enough, about the words of elder Lillian Pitawanakwat, and her reminder that we are always living the creation story. So we are always the earth diver, diving down to gather that piece of, digging deep and diving down and having to be brave and having to face our fears and having to sacrifice perhaps our very lives, to get that stuff with which to create new worlds. And that's an ongoing process. So I feel like I am just sitting here swelling up like a big ball or something, swelling with light, swelling with something, sometimes fear and anxiety and just getting ready to pop, getting ready to drop, getting ready to plunge into the unknown. So gathering my little bundle to see what we create on the other side of this. And while I am so happy to see you all here and be with you all here and talk to you all here and know you're all here, I look forward to us meeting each other on the other side and in the words of my good friend, Miriam Margolyes, Brighter Woman Theater, I hope that we are all shinier people for it. So, migwech, thank you. [Pause.] Oh I am finished now and I pass it on, sorry.
Landon Krentz [Landon is signing in American Sign Language while Ava, an interpreter, translates in spoken English]: Hi everyone, my name is Landon Krentz and my sign name is used with the index finger and the middle finger curved and then around my right side of my ear. So in Deaf culture, typically, you know, we don't generally describe our pronouns or describe what we look like, when we refer to she, him, here, there, it's all English terminology that's actually finger spelled, so I'm gonna avoid that 'cause we don't do that in our language. In terms of, I recognize our land acknowledgments for where I'm here, currently I'm staying here and residing in Calgary. And so we do have many Indigenous tribes in this area, The Blackfoot that are here. We also have the Treaty 7. We also have our interpreters, Ava and Brook, actually have their Indigenous lands that they're in with the Squamish and the, and I'm trying to remember the Musqueam, and the, oh shoot, what was the third one? They're in Vancouver, I can't remember it, but they're in with the Indigenous nations and I can't believe, I'm tired, guys. I can't remember all of the nations. What is it, what is it? Okay, anyways, I don't know if somebody can help me with that but anyways, you know what, I'm having a bad day, I'm really, really tired. I've got three shows coming up in the next two months, I have a huge fatigue of eye gazing I've been watching the computer all day which has been exhausting. But I will give you a visual description. I'm currently wearing a black shirt with a dark blue jean jacket. I also have a cat named Crescendo who is sitting at the bottom of my feet sleeping. So I'm just showing the screen of, it looks like a gray cat with black markings. And I got Crescendo just before the pandemic. And actually, Crescendo's kept me busy during the pandemic of all things. So right now, I have to admit, I'm using a towel to wipe my eyes because I've had some bad vibes with my eyes at the moment, they've been leaking. I do have sign language interpreters here so my access are being met for that portion. But I do need to identify that as a Deaf individual watching a screen and watching interpreters, that it's very difficult. It's not always natural just to watch natural signers, we work as a team so I make sure with the interpreters that not only do I understand them but I understand all of you naturally, so it's a negotiation of that informative process that we both understand each other and I negotiate with interpreters around understanding and meeting and making sure that I know what's being reflected in the translation and vice versa. In terms of both of my interpreters, also just to let you know that we've got also representation from BIPOC, so again, I do try to accommodate being mindful of not only interpreters and my choice of preferences for those interpreters to work with me but also that I'm reflecting interpreters of color when I am selecting interpreters. In terms of my drama, I am a performer, I'm an artist, I'm Deaf. In addition to that, I've also tried to arrange an organization with dramaturgy which I have a plethora of representation from everyone from various different entities and working with that entire team has been very beneficial. Now, this morning, I had a chance to work with them on my project and that was very exciting. In terms of looking at access to a variety of different people with different cultural backgrounds but in addition to being able to communicate things in my culture and my language and how we respect one another with following what some of the visions are of my production and what I see and how I can get other experts in the field to help me with that. So again, I shared that experience today in a meeting all day, which was fortunate. And again, the goal is really, is that we need to be providing more dramas, more art for people in the Deaf community. They need to have access to theater, they need to have access to those kinds of venues just as the hearing public has access to all of those things. It's an interesting challenge, these days with COVID pandemic. I mean, the amount of feeds that we've got coming up, I know in the next three months I have a variety of projects but I'm also curious to see what the community reaction is because right now, sign language has been very public in the community's eyes with media interpreting and so, it has a different impact that'll be interesting when it slows down, what that effect's going be on the Deaf community. So that's my thoughts for today, thank you. I'll wrap up. And yep, thanks, Brooke.
Grant Miller: This is Grant, hi everyone. I'm just gonna pull up the agenda so that I can make sure that I cover everything. So my name is Grant Miller. I use they, them pronouns. I am calling from the traditional and unseated territory of the Multnomah, Clackamas, Kathlamet, Kalapuya and Chinook people as well as many other unnamed bands. Settler named Portland, Oregon, USA. I wanna also offer acknowledgments to the nearby Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, whose ancestors survived Oregon's Trail of Tears and whose tribal status was terminated by executive order in 1954 and restored in 1983. And there're still many members of the Tribes of the Grand Ronde and other native communities living in this area. I am, let's see here, I am wearing silvery Princess Leia headphones and I have kind of curly, wavy black and gray, as I get closer, hair. I'm also wearing a black jumpsuit with keyholes sewn where really inaccessible buttons used to be and there are magnets that are holding it shut now so it's wearable for me. I'm also wearing a rainbow pin from an artist who makes a clock that takes one year to go all the way around. And so this pin is sort of like a rainbow wheel that sort of goes around, we have the clock version of it as well and if I'd prepared, I would've remembered to look up their name. So, I am white with hazel eyes and hands that drape like willow trees. And I'm against a virtual background, that is these huge dark green leaves that are super dramatic of a cardoon which grows in our garden and grows up to 8 feet tall. And so I just took this photo yesterday and I might put different virtual backgrounds on and when I do, I'll be sure to describe those. Like, I have this flower that like, when I'm sitting in it, you can see at around my head and it's just like, really exciting. So, you know, I'm saving that for later. I think we're on to how we are feeling. How I am. I'm also super exhausted. I'm feeling a little bit embarrassed because yesterday, our meeting went on a little bit longer than we had planned. And I'd sort of leaned into saying goodbye, a couple of times, and then at one point I just turned off the camera and left which is about kinda where my spoons have been. I'm like, not responding to some text messages, like it takes me like a week to respond. I am very, very privileged to be in this house with my partner and with our garden, Lenore. But I'm also just really aware of just the emotional fatigue of this quarantine and just of this situation, this large situation and particularly the impacts on disability community, that we're already getting a lot of impact from institutional violence just being reiterated right now. I've kind of a stiff back so I'm gonna keep kinda rolling around. I've been welcomed to facilitate for a portion of today's session after our check-ins and I was really nervous about it last night. And I still have some butterflies right now and I'm really looking forward to sharing this work with folks and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to do it with this group. Because I'm really, I feel sort of this support from you all and my other well-wishers. I think for my access needs, I'm gonna be probably drawing while people are talking, so if I'm looking down or if it takes me a little while to respond, less when I'm facilitating, that's because I'm drawing lots of little loops around words that I like and that sort of thing. And also writing words that I'm then drawing loops around. And I am, hmm. Yeah, I think the three hour sessions can sometimes be a little hard for me physically, and so, in addition to taking breaks, when we get breaks, I might also just dip out of the screen occasionally. So there's that. And I think another access need is to just sort of groan a little bit for a moment. So I'm just gonna kind of like, I don't think it'll be too loud but I'm just gonna let my sore back and fatigue have a moment of voice, a little bit. Okay and then there's some laughter. That was nice, that was nice, thank you folks. Yeah, I think my access needs are met now. So, I am a performance artist. I also do all sorts of, kind of, experimental movement, experimental theater work. My work has also included virtual reality. I also, sort of reminiscent of what Carmen mentioned, I also think that access is a really important part of my aesthetic. I really believe that access is an aesthetic consideration and one that, though structural, is also formative to how art is created. And so, a big part of my work is how to adapt performance or generate performance, which is adaptive to the bodies who are present rather than filling a checklist of accessibility and still expecting every body to receive or respond to the work in the same way. Some of my work has also included virtual reality and on my website I say that I move to deform existing structures. And I'll say it a little more quickly 'cause it flows a little better when it is faster. I move to deform existing structures, which is, I don't know that I'm gonna say much more about that right now. I like not being totally coherent, that feels a little bit like disability aesthetic. So yeah, I'm also supported by a wonderful community of Disabled artists and family and friends and supporters. I'm a part of a collaborative with my partner, Jonathan Paradox. Get a lot of support from the earth and the garden next to our house whose name is Lenore Evermore. And she really takes good care of us and we take care of her. She's an endless project and we love her and we receive a lot of love back. So yeah, thank you.
Mia Amir: Okay I'll check in. This is Mia and Ahmad. And my name is Mia, as I said. My pronouns are she and her. I'm calling in from the unseated and occupied territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples, where I've lived much of my life. I am a Jew of mixed Ashkenazi and Sephardic ascent and I was born in Israel, occupied Palestine. I also lived for a number of years on the traditional territories of the Ohlone peoples in Oakland, California and have considered that place a kind of home. Physical description, I am light-skinned. I have dark hair that is short and hectic. It's being held together by a green headband, which is my only headband and I wish I had more headbands to deal with the current situation. I'm wearing a gray sweater over top of a purple tank top and my baby is nursing, and they are wearing a white onesie with black hearts and blue sweatpants and they have dark hair. And behind me is my living room wall, where there are paintings that represent various places that I am connected to. How am I? I think I've said this the last two sessions, I'm very dispersed these days, thin and watery. I am very tired. I am full of wonder and awe and terror about this moment that we are living, about having a three month old baby, who is dependent on me and our communities to make things right for our world, to make things right so that they might live into their full possibility. And I feel a great deal of responsibility and a great deal of vigilance these days. Vigilance around the kinda blocking out of the threat of COVID-19, which has felt quite intense to me in a physical way, as my partner who is to my right, who you can't see there offscreen, will attest. I am forcefully trying to find ways to ensure that that disease doesn't enter our home and it's quite consuming. And as a Crip Mad artist, educator, community organizer, you know, those embodied realities are really informing how I'm responding to this moment. I feel much gratitude and so much honor to be in the presence of my collaborators here and so grateful for this work that we do together which does keep me grounded and focused on both where we are coming from, where we are in this moment and where we might emerge towards. It was recently Pesach which is my favorite Jewish holiday, it's the most important one to me and I won't tell you the whole story of Exodus but part of what the holiday represents is the coming outs of , or the narrow places. So in Hebrew we refer to Egypt, it's terrible that we still refer to Egypt as the narrow places, in a contemporary context, but that is how we refer to it. And in the context of Pesach, we're asked, at least in my interpretation, to evaluate our current conditions and the narrow places that shape and constrain and confine and make our lives and communities smaller, repressed, suppressed, oppressed, in ways that we should not tolerate. And it invites us to really contemplate on the strategies, the dreams, the methods of liberation that we want and need to embody right now. And our responsibility, especially as Jews with a remembering of this story, what is our role now in architecting a world and preparing a world that is continuing to confront the kinds of inequities and violence that we see. I'm just gonna put pause on myself for a second 'cause I need to get some quiet over here. Sorry. And so, part of the story of Pesach includes these plagues that afflict the people of Egypt and I really think about the kind of global plague that we are now confronting and the questions that we're all having to contend with, in terms of, what is the world that we are in, and how will we live in this world in a good way with the current constraints that make life on a daily basis so different for some and so not different for others and I think especially of my Crip community, most of us who already spend so much time in isolation, imposed isolation in our homes, trying to protect ourselves and keep well and keep each other well and all of the tools that we've been using to do that already, that now seem like many people are belatedly arriving to the ways that we've already been trying to be in the world, in a good way. And so, welcome to all y'all who are belatedly arriving. But I'm really thinking about this tension or the promise, the tension promise of liberation in this moment, in this time, and how will we arrive to liberation? What will liberation from this very specific historic moment mean for us? And in what ways are we willing to relinquish the conditions and structures that we have taken for granted as the ways in which the world operates? And how will we welcome something new? And how will we allow ourselves to grieve and be terrified together? And so all of that's very much inside of me these days, and especially so with this tiny human. So that's how I'm doing. Sorry, that was very long. My access needs are just that I'm very tired and very emotional and tender. So I will take time with myself and with all of you and I will be here in the ways that I can be. In terms of my practice, I'm a Crip Mad maker of works. I work at the intersection of creative and community practice and have worked in those intersections for a very long time. Historically, more in a kind of grassroots, community-organizing orientated fashion, working especially with at-risk young people and marginalized young people using the arts as a tool for self-expression and social transformation. And now a lot of my work is within transdisciplinary performance. And I work in that context as a writer, creator, performer, dramaturg, director and advocate working from a disability, Crip Mad embodiment and doing advocacy inside of multiple communities in that regard. I really see performance as a prefigurative space for us to be considering and working out what world we're trying to be in and seeing that happening at the level of process design, so where we start from our work together, all the way to how we envision presenting work in the world, and how we relate to audiences that are engaged in and that we want to have engaged in our performance practices. And I am the convener and co-coordinator of Unsettling Dramaturgy and that's kinda my primary engagement these days, besides the most creative task in my life which is Ahmad so. Check, that's me.
Tiare Jung: Thanks everyone, my name is Tiare Jung, my pronouns are they, them. And I am here, I've been living on the lands occupied, homelands of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish peoples for the past 10 years and I'm very grateful to be here. Yeah, it's quite important to think about how the land supports me and how I can be a good guest on this territory and I was born and raised in Prince George, Lheidli T'enneh territory, and my ancestry is Hawaiian, Chinese, Tahitian, Irish, and as well as some grandmothers whose stories and specific nations, I don't know because those records are kinda hard to access but we know them to be Indigenous to like so-called BC, somewhere in there. And my access needs, thanks to this group for your flexibility, I was originally intending to do some digital graphic recording for you but I've been doing quite a bit of sitting and drawing and hunching over my iPad, as I come to meet people in the virtual space, and so I Made the suggestion to Mia that instead, I would continue to draw physically at the wall which is just so much better for my body 'cause I get to stand and move. It's, yeah, it's really nice to have the balance of tactile, so I'll be shifting the computer around, hopefully so that you can see, which leads into physical description. I'm a graphic recorder and I'm, talk about me first, I am a tan or copper-skinned person of ambiguous racial appearance and I have glasses and I have thin privilege and my hair is dark black. And behind me there's a large piece of paper taped to a wall that I'm drawing on. Moments and sort of the weaving together some of the story and the insights that are being shared, so I'm drawing a combination of words and images. So far on the poster I have written, practicing the future we imagine, approaches and practices for online convening, process design that centers unsettling colonization, oh sorry, decolonization, that's the opposite of what we want, decolonization, indigenization and disability justice. There's an image of a laptop, there's an image of some faces of various gender and skin tones, and then just sort of a description of what we're doing now to introduce ourselves. Along with saying we make time to connect, to breathe deeply, there's an image of a tulip. And sort of acknowledging some of the feelings that are going on, swelling with fear and anticipation, ready to plunge into the unknown. So, what else am I supposed to say? I think that's about it for me, thank you.
Claudia: Thank you, thank you, thank you, I have to say, this is Claudia speaking, as an outside observer, dramaturgically, I took a note that I preferred this experientially to the other experience of your recording, 'cause I loved being able to see you drawing in this fashion, I quite loved it. But it's also fascinating to see how this was actually an access measure for you, that's brilliant and beautiful. We are going to take a break but before we move into our break, I wanna make sure, has everyone had a chance to introduce themselves? Excellent, thank you my colleagues. I also want to lift up that this, in and of itself, is a prefigurative practice. So thank you for joining us for this prefigurative practice in creating the future that we need of communication and creative world making. We're going to break for 10 minutes. We will return at, well it's 4:40 in the land of the Ohlone people, but we will return here in 10 minutes to begin threshold practice with Grant and I will give a little bit of introduction before we get into that. Thank you, everyone. Hello, my colleagues, I believe we are all returned. I'm hearing reflections that our opening introduction was some well needed decompression time, I am fully in agreement. I find that in my day, I am often communicating with such swiftness and fastness and I come into this space super tight, and the way we enter the space, helps me to relax and let go a little bit so thank you for those observations. So today our session is focused on prefigurative spaces or practicing the future that we imagine. So we will be discussing current creative projects and protocols, that set a new cultural standard where accessibility, Cripping, and indigenization of process design in virtual collaboration and beyond, are approached as a living process of ongoing negotiation and, I'm quite excited that we're going to be using threshold practice as the container for this discussion. So I'm going to read a little bit about our prompt, prefigurative spaces, or practicing the future we imagine, current creative projects, I think this is things I already said, oh, oh so I see, so this living protocol was developed by Larissa Kaul, Jonathon, oh this feels like text that's actually for Grant, so forgive me for getting a little--
Grant: You can read it Claudia, I would love for you to read it if you'd like.
Claudia: ’Cause I realized, I was like, "I feel like I'm speaking Grant's voice right now." Thank you so much. Also, for transparent facilitation for those of you observing this, we have a practice where we meet beforehand, we create a very beautiful document that has a lot of what we are going to be talking about, typed up. And this is partially to aid our sign interpreters and captioners, so there's a source for some of this dense language that I will do my best to communicate not too quickly. Pre--
Mia: Can I add one thing Claudia?
Mia: I just wanted to add that another reason these pre-existing documents are so important for me in my practice, is that the ways in which my brain functions means that I'm not always able to have instantaneous recall in terms of the things that I would like to say and have said and the things that are really important and that are at the heart of what we are trying to do but though I feel them and I live them, the words are not always available in a succinct and expeditious way and so having this text which we have co-written, is so powerful and useful in terms of making sure that I can show up and perform in a good way with all of you and then ideally, make the work that we're trying to do as legible and easy to understand for the folks who are tuning in live. And so that's kind of, I just wanted to shed light because we're trying to expose prefigurative spaces and this is what we do, and we use Google Docs, for transparency, as the medium through which we're doing this co-writing. And sometimes this co-writing is happening even in the moment, sometimes we're making modifications in the moment to the text because it's a live document and it's a co-authored document so everyone has permissions to kind of interject and change and transform what's in there. And so yeah, just wanted to give light to that because this is what we're up to.
Claudia: Thank you, thank you, thank you, and again, this is one of the reasons why I love this particular cohort. Our practice is thorough, incredibly accessible and it's a practice that I'm trying to bring into my other spaces, so I really deeply appreciate it. I also am deeply appreciative of threshold practice that I had the honor of participating in by physically traveling to Portland and experiencing it as a new accessibility tool and way of working. So I'm gonna read this language. This living protocol was developed by Grant Miller, Larissa Kaul, Jonathan PARADOX Lee and Dare Sohei through the collaboration Grotto Worlds, with the support-
Grant: [Correcting Claudia’s pronunciation.] Dare.
Claudia: What was that?
Grant: Dare Sohei, Dare Sohei.
Claudia: Dare Sohei, thank you so much. Through the collaboration Grotto World, with the support of many friends, including Myia Johnson, Paula Helen, Cheryl Green, myself, Subashini, I'm not going to read these names well. Grant, I think I'm passing the mic to you, you will honor their names with more grace than I will.
Grant: With the support of many friends including Myia Johnson, Paula Helen, Cheryl Green, Claudia Alick, Subashini Ganesan, and Roya Amirsolyemani, as well as the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Water in the Desert, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, New Expressive Works, the Grollo Clowns and many unnamed bodies, human and non-human we love, and of course, Lenore Evermore.
Grant: Is there anything you would like to add in transition?
Claudia: No, I would like to fully give this space to you so you can create a frame and container for us to fill. Thank you so much Grant.
Grant: Thank you. In a way, the frame and container that I'm going to be offering today, is really a sort of seamless continuation of the frame that we as a group have already set up. So this protocol, called threshold practice, will often refer to something that I call a chamber, which is a space that a person or group of people may enter into or come out of as we choose. So with the idea of threshold practice, using the cosmology, I might suggest that we are all in our own separate chambers in our digital realities and that we are also a part of a collective group chamber that is this wall of faces. And of course, we are in a greater chamber, which is the earth that we're in. And so with the protocol of threshold practice we go through a specific order of events and those events can then be repeated or lead to other chambers or thresholds and it will become more clear as I model it. But just for access, I'm gonna clarify what these steps are before moving into our first chambers. The steps that we've generated are to call a chamber, we typically, during our rehearsal process, will say, "I'd like to call a chamber," or say, "I'm gonna call a chamber." We then negotiate witness or negotiate how we want to be witnessed. So if one person calls a chamber, they might negotiate how they want to be witnessed. I might say, "I want everybody to close their eyes "and tickle the roof of their mouth with their tongue "while I'm in this chamber." Or they might say, "I want everybody "to breathe very slowly." Negotiating witness can also include setting a time, saying, "This chamber will end after three minutes," or, "This chamber will end "after I've finished my plate of cheese and crackers." The chamber is then a space that we cross into, that's the threshold that we cross into, in which something happens. We don't know what might happen in a chamber. Sometimes they can be heavily facilitated. If we do a group chamber, we might just say, "This is kind of what we wanna go for," and then we're all just gonna to do it and not really talk about it while we try it. Once the chamber ends, just as a clarity, we've covered calling a chamber, negotiating witness, and then the chamber, once the chamber completes, we then have a period of digestion or rest where we are relatively quiet, just allow our bodies to kind of let things settle as we've experienced them. We have also used the word integration. And then that's closely followed by a period we call aftercare. During the aftercare step, as the facilitator for this threshold practice, I will just prompt us and say, "Does anybody need any aftercare?" I might remind us to have some water. But we can also specifically request aftercare, so we might request that everybody move their nose really close to the screen and that's aftercare. Or one of us might say, "I need to step away for a few minutes." That could also be a form of aftercare. And then once we've done aftercare, we'll have a period of reflection. And the person who calls the chamber is usually the person who can set the parameters for how they want to be reflected. And so, as the facilitator for today's threshold practice, I might operate as a little bit more of a coach to just help us do the practice, if I feel like it's needed. But I really like to think of threshold practice as a protocol that in some ways is sort of a frame or a parenthesis for an experience, one which is really about centering collective care for the bodies that are present. This idea for us to do a prefigurative space, we're imagining the world that we would like to see or imagining the world, I can't remember the language that we used. It's right here in this handy Google Doc, practicing the future we imagine. This idea was proposed by Lindsay Eales who's one of our artists, who is not here for today's session and they specifically referenced Leah Lakshmi Piepzna Oh I wrote down their name 'cause I really wanna make sure, Piepzna-Samarasinha, who specifically talks about prefigurative spaces as a place where we imagine the kind of access that we want to see and we imagine the future that we want to experience. And that heavily informed the development of threshold practice. So I'm gonna model threshold practice now. Mia, the organizer, specifically encouraged me to offer a chamber that was embodied. So I'm gonna start by modeling just sort of a shorter embodiment chamber, and then I might do an additional chamber that's a little bit more discussion based, and then we'll shift into kind of a a bigger threshold practice with the whole group. So I'd like to call a chamber. This is gonna be an embodiment chamber. As the person who's calling this chamber, I am particularly struck by some phrases that I heard from people saying there are stressed bodies here, we're feeling tender and raw, there's some eye gazing fatigue happening, we're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, cortisol and all of these are sort of influencing this chamber, yes, which is, as I'm doing right now, the negotiation witness step or negotiation step, I would like to encourage everybody who's participating to witness in a way that feels most comfortable for you. This is also a chamber that I'm going to invite those who are at home to participate in as well. I might, the viewers who are not a part of this particular call, 'cause we're all at home right now, I think, so I would like this chamber to happen for about maybe five minutes. And I'd really like for us to witness each other and ourselves as part of the room that we are in. And so the invitation will be to notice where it is we can imagine our body being, that would feel more comfortable, and to go there, and to continue to explore that for a few minutes. I might add a few other things verbally, but just because I know that once we shift into embodiment practices, it might be hard to keep track of captions or what an interpreter is saying, I really wanna just say the invitation will begin and then kind of limit how much I say. So before I do that, I'm gonna follow Claudia's lead and change my virtual background, oh no wait, we're gonna do this, yes. So I am now using a calendula flower background and I will give more description of it later. I'd say, let's have this chamber begin now. See if there are, notice if there are ways that your body wants to move and then allow yourself to do it. Especially if they are ways of moving that will allow you to feel more comfortable, more in the space that you are in. Mia also spoke about feeling water, notice if you need some water, also notice the feeling of water within your body as it relates to the space that we are in. Noticing what the water in our body is asking for and seeing if there are ways we can move that allow that to occur. And I think that's about time. So now, in whatever way works for you, just take a moment to digest internally the experience of the chamber that we were all just a part of.
[The group is silent for a moment.]
Grant: All right, now, aftercare, one of my favorite portions, what kind of aftercare is needed? I'm gonna have more water. Are there any aftercare requests that anyone would like to just name to the group?
DeLesslin “Roo”: This is Roo, my aftercare need is to keep moving.
Grant: I hear you say that, Roo, and it makes me wanna keep moving, too. Other aftercare needs?
Jessica: This is Jessica, my aftercare need is to add some warmth to my body.
Carmen: I, too, am gonna add some warmth and plug in my heating pad.
Tara: This is Tara and my aftercare need is to order dinner, so I'm going to do that really quick.
Grant: Yeah, yay, this is why we do the aftercare step. Anybody else?
Mia: I have an aftercare desire that's directed towards the folks who are tuning in, which is maybe a request for reflection after we're done doing after aftercare statements. And also, I had an aftercare need of taking some sips of coffee, which I did, I've done that.
Grant: One of the things about this group that I appreciate are the moments of silence and pause to allow for people to share as they need to. So I'm going to again extend the invitation for any other aftercare needs to be stated. All right. So, now we'll shift into reflections. And as the person who called the chamber, in the way I've done the protocol with my group, the person who called the chamber can kind of set the parameters of reflection. It's of course adaptable. I was definitely having an embodied experience over here, and I was also noticing a lot of visual information coming in through our video chat so I wonder if, as just a start of the reflection, we could just give some descriptions of what we noticed? Particularly visual descriptions. And then we'll move into other reflections about just our general embodied experience of that. I'll just say really quickly, a couple things that I noticed were Jill looking up at a virtual image of the moon and so it looked like Jill was looking at the moon and that's what I saw from my end. I'm curious if there are any other descriptions, either of auditory or visual information that folks would like to be sure to name?
Jill: It’s Jill, I was rolling my neck a lot, my eyes wanted to close a lot. but then they'd open sort of automatically or inadvertently if my head got to the right angle, so I was just bombarded with yellow and green from Grant's flower and leaves and foliage behind it, it was very beautiful.
Claudia: This is Claudia, I witnessed Mia doing some type of movement that reminded me that I was invited to move my body in ways that took me away from this space. So then I did some floor work and it was marvelous and I needed it so much, so yay, check.
DeLesslin “Roo": This is Roo, I remembered in that space that I could walk away and do something that's not on screen. And then when I came back, I felt the need to really stretch kinda my back side. And I realized I was incredibly tight, particularly along the back of my thighs. And I got this vivid image of the wires on a bridge, you know, being stretched in like a windstorm or some other ecological event and then also, I live in my community and there's just a lot of screaming children happening outside. And I felt invited in that moment to reimagine those screams of joy instead of screams of annoyance for me.
Grant: What other reflections are coming up for folks about that chamber?
Tara: This is Tara. I noticed that I wanted to go to sleep and that that moment in the chamber was the first moment in a very long series of moments, where it felt like I could be at rest and my body and brain was like, "We are done." So that's was really interesting and really enlightening to just how my existence has been, the past who knows how long? Anyway, and then trying to find those moments again of physical and mental pause that don't necessarily always have to mean sleep because I also don't think that's too great. Anyway, so a lot to reflect and percolate on, check.
Mia: Something that was really interesting for me was that I did remove myself from an interaction with the screen and I did take myself to the floor in my very cluttered living room here and what was potent, was the way I felt still connected in to what the rest of the group was doing. I had no idea what anyone else was really up to but I felt connected in through the guidance of your voice Grant and I became really curious about how that guidance was really creating this like network of relationship that I felt very clearly in my body without needing any other kind of affirmation or input that it existed, and so it Made me really curious about like how we remain connected in this very disembodied medium or how we can remain connected in this very disembodied medium, by taking ourselves away physically from the medium but allowing elements of connection, for example, a text box or a verbal instruction that then lets me know I'm tied into a reality that other people are participating in at the same time. And it just Made me, I don't have any answers but it led to a lot of questions about how we address this intense fatigue that many are experiencing of this onslaught of meetings that are taking place through Zoom for example and online and how do we address that, what are the tools that we can use to address that and remain in meaningful connection and how do we trust meaningful connection existing in the absence of obvious cues, let's say. I don't know if I am making sense but it really Made me, I feel like that was the most grounded and most connected I've felt in quite some time to other people when meeting online, by removing myself from an immediate ocular experience. So anyway, that was just something that was sitting with me in a really strong way and Made me really interested in what's possible.
Grant: I wanna—
Grant: Oh, I'm sorry to interrupt you Carmen, I just wanna make sure, are our interpreters interpreting for you, Landon? Is this working? Is video working, I saw in the chat.
Landon: Yes, things are going fine. When you're providing the guide for us then I have to look back to the screen and then go do my movements. So most of the time, I have to just watch and have a chance to think about it, so no problems. Thank you, Grant.
Grant: Okay, yeah sure. Carmen please go ahead.
Carmen: Thanks, yeah so, it's Carmen speaking. I noticed that just through the invitation to find comfort and just like, follow that and satisfy that impulse to find comfort, I feel like that really helped me realize those opportunities for comfort in the room and like, you know, I brought Grant with me on my headphones but I was also, I was only hearing your audio, Grant but I was imagining a situation where I could hear into everybody else's space and what they were doing and their process, just like, what it sounded like. But that invitation to find comfort, it led me to my bed that I rolled around on to like alleviate some of the tension in my back and to, kind of, alleviate some of that pain that I didn't even realize that I was so restricted just sitting in front of the iPad, but just that invitation to explore was really freeing, I think. I also halfway through rolling around on my bed realized I was really cold and I just felt like the window drawing my attention and I wanted to follow this call from the window to make sure it was shut and I have this little spinny thing to spin the window shut and I just like cranked it really tightly closed and that was about the time that the session ended. So I don't know, it just gave me some agency, I think. Thanks.
Grant: Thank you. Claudia, yeah.
Claudia: I think I'll make one last observation and then possibly, let me check in with my colleagues, we did end up taking our break about 15 minutes late, so I'm gonna make my observation and remain in this moment of reflection but then I'm gonna ask us to figure out if we'd like to take a break or not or if we wanna keep going with another threshold practice, a moment, with another one of our colleagues. So one of the things that I really loved about, and I am not sure if I am reflecting on this specific chamber or if I'm reflecting on the practice as a whole, but it feels like often times, especially in formal performative practice, so as an actress or a dancer, I am often requested to embody trauma or experience trauma or do something hard and then I'm required to immediately pivot into another moment or to immediately pivot into having someone reflect on that experience and I'm not allowed to say, "This is how I could best absorb that experience. "This would work best for me." So I really, there was something that felt, not only incredibly accessible but really powerful about the way this is framed. And also really generative in terms of, like I go, "Oh, this feels like a practice I can use "to develop my work, to do post-show discussion." Just I'm finding it very interesting and it's opened me up in a couple of ways. Check on that. So my colleagues, I think we've just had a beautiful exercise, do we want to take a break for 10 minutes? I'm seeing some head nods, and so my colleagues, we will break for 10 and then return for the closing hour of our Praxis session. Greetings, everyone, welcome back to the final session of Unsettling Dramaturgy's prefiguration conversation. We are returning to our exercise of responding to the prompt. I'm actually trying to get to the prompt really quick, so we are responding to the prompt with threshold practice, prefigurative spaces or practicing the future we imagine. Current creative projects and protocols that set a new cultural standard, where accessibility, Cripping and indigenization of process design in virtual collaboration and beyond, are approached as a living process of ongoing negotiation. So in response to that prompt, if I understand our exercise, we have another 30 minutes potentially to respond to that prompt through threshold practice. Am I understanding this correctly? Excellent. So I will create space and mute myself until someone would like to join us.
Grant: So this is Grant again. I wanted to just make sure 'cause I really wanted to honor the break time, were there other reflections from the chamber that anybody wanted to share? Landon, I know that you didn't speak and I think that was it, is there anything that anybody else just wants to add before we shift into our next moment? Okay. Now, I'm gonna, as the facilitator working with threshold practice, gonna try and synthesize some proposals that we had as a group and maybe folks could help give some support as we do this. I think my original impulse had been to do the model chamber that we just did, do maybe one more sort of shorter chamber and then do a longer chamber, but I kinda think that given our time constraints, I might move into the longer chamber. Does anybody have a really strong push towards one way or the other at this point? Okay, I'm gonna, oh--
Mia: By longer chamber, do you mean offering space to any one of the collaborators here to call a chamber and explore the prompt?
Mia: Okay, thanks.
Grant: Yes. Yeah, I think I wanna do a really short chamber and then invite collaborators to call one. So the topic of today's work is prefigurative space. And I'm curious if we could, one of the ways that our group has done group chambers before, is to call a chamber and then invite people to just throw in words without full sentences. So to just give ideas or impulses, maybe makes sounds, share an image if you have one, share a piece of music. And this will sort of be kind of a cacophony, probably, and just inviting everybody when the chamber begins to unmute and trying to not to talk over each other so we don't overwhelm the interpreters but to sort of also allow for many things to happen at once as possible. So I'd like to propose that the people at home who are witnessing this, might also wanna send us any art or text that feels relevant that we could add to our growing archive of these events, there's no guarantee that we'll use them for today's event but we would still welcome those as a part of this chamber. Can we also add words to the livestream chat? Yes, and we'll add words into the livestream and on Facebook. So I think this chamber will last for, we'll do a quick one, for three minutes. And the prompt is to use words, movements, images, sounds that somehow reflect our own feeling of what prefigurative space feels like. Or the futures we imagine. All right, three minutes, starting now.
DeLesslin “Roo”: [Singing:] When I go home alone. I drive past the place where I was born.
Carmen: Tactile fireworks.
Claudia: Natural processes.
Mia: The Zapatistas have this wonderful saying of moving at the pace of the person moving most slowly, and so I see that as the space and pace of relationship and labor and dreaming that I would want my prefigurative space, my future place, that I'm trying to be in, to look like and feel like.
Carmen: The option to use a marching band instead of a white cane.
Jill: Elasticated time.
Jessica: Get a moon.
Grant: Restorative and rehabilitative justice rather than institutions and prisons.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Quoting the children outside of my home: [groaning].
Grant: Bodies allowed to move.
Cramen: Safe space.
Jill: Access undenied.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Cats who love from a distance.
Grant: Cat video conference.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Blooming.
Jill: Soft spaces to fall.
Jessica: [Overlapping] No need—
Carmen: [Overlapping] Collective care, sorry.
Jessica: No need to disguise the mess.
Claudia: Without lies.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Creaky chairs.
Claudia: Without coercion.
Carmen: [Overlapping] Radically interdependent.
Grant: [Overlapping] I think that's--
Grant: Yes, yes!
Mia: Can you repeat that Carmen?
Carmen: Radically interdependent.
Grant: So that was three minutes, so let's just take a moment to digest. I'm getting some water.
Claudia: This is digestion and aftercare?
Grant: Mm-hmm. I think as an aftercare, I would like to invite folks to sort of move like trees swaying on a warm, windy day. Any other aftercare requests?
DeLesslin “Roo”: Deep breaths.
Grant: All right, so, one way that we do our practice is to save reflection for later to make time for other chambers to occur if they need to and so I would like to extend an invitation to this group and see if there's anybody who would like to call a chamber before we do a final reflection around six o'clock or nine o'clock Eastern Time.
Mia: And would it be okay if we just repeated today's prompt one more time to remind ourselves collectively?
Grant: Yes, today's prompt is prefigurative spaces or practicing the future we imagine. Current creative projects and protocols that set a new cultural standard where accessibility, Cripping and indigenization of process design in virtual collaboration and beyond are approached as a living process of ongoing negotiation.
Grant: I would like to use the invitation that was proposed by Jill yesterday, for a chamber that is a little bit more of a storytelling chamber. The proposal Jill that you named was the idea that we could imagine a project that really reflected our prefigurative politics or a project that didn't, that may have been really hurtful and telling a story of that project as though it actually went as we wish it could have. And so, does that feel like what you had proposed yesterday? Yeah, okay, so the next chamber I'd like to propose is one that we are all welcome to voice who are here, we would invite the people who are witnessing to continue to find comfort in whatever way that looks for you, including for ourselves as witnesses of each other and ourselves, and so the invitation is to just share a story of a prefigurative project that you witnessed or a project that really didn't work but if you reimagined it and it can be as fantastical as you like, as something that was truly prefigurative, to do that. Does that feel clear? Would anybody else like to add additional negotiations of this chamber?
DeLesslin “Roo”: Can I ask a clarifying question?
Grant: Of course.
DeLesslin “Roo”: And this is just me trying to better understand this practice, so for a chamber, we could do a collaborative chamber, is that what you're suggesting in this moment?
Grant: Yeah, yeah, in some cases, a chamber will just be one person perhaps and that person might be performing or that person might be facilitating in some way, but it is also possible to invite a whole group of collaborators into a chamber together, and that it can be as structured or unstructured as we choose, and so, in this case, it would be a little bit more turn-taking, and the invitation is to tell a story, as long or short as feels right, and I think maybe I'll just say this chamber will last for 10 minutes, just to share with each other a project or a time that we experienced something that felt like the future that we imagined or a project that really did not work but retelling the story of it as though it worked wonderfully and actually created the kind of prefigurative space that we dream of.
DeLesslin “Roo”: That sounds exciting. I don't know that I can contribute but I'm excited to hear.
Grant: I am, too. Maybe it'll just be a quiet chamber where we all reflect on it or just feel awkward because we can't figure it out. Who knows, it's a chamber, anything can happen. Yeah, I think I am gonna hand this over to the chamber and see if anybody would like to begin.
Jessica: I have a story that I'll share. And the story is about a show that was a fire in the best way possible. And the show that was the fire, needed a group of people to sit around the fire, and they needed people to sit on an even plane around it. The fire needed people to ignite the fire and they did and the fire needed people to tend the fire and they did and the fire needed people to extinguish the fire, and they did. And even after the fire went out, the people that were gathered took care of each other, knowing that fire's hot and fire can burn and fire is dangerous but fire is also warmth and nourishing and so everyone that was gathered around that fire, respecting fire and tending the fire, extinguishing the fire in a good way, were able to do something new and amazing with that fire. And yeah, huge shout out to Kim Senklip Harvey, Kamloopa, check.
Claudia: I have a drawer and inside that drawer there are plays. I named these plays The Unproducibles. They are unproducible maybe because I think that the world isn't ready for them, they're unproducable because to produce them would require humans beings to do things that are not physically possible. Some of them are unproducable because I am afraid. I'd like to tell a story about actually producing one of these plays. So I actually found 200 people and a very large complex with gates and barbed wire and the audience was willing, they paid so much money to enter into this play and they allowed me to take all of their money and all of their things and lock them into closets so they as audience members truly felt like they were in danger because they had put their ID and their credit cards in the power of other people. Unproducible and then the huge cast of hundreds, they were all fully paid. They all had health insurance, this cast of hundreds. It was such a beautiful production. In the production, everyone experienced class division, they experienced what it would be like to be in quarantine, I wrote this three years ago, they experienced what it would be like to be coerced into doing a performance of rebellion that is about nothing but capitalism. And then at the end of the play, we all went to a garden and we started gardening and we never stopped.
DeLesslin “Roo”: I want to tell you a story about a cat who had an early experience of food insecurity and so he never thought enough food would come his way. And then one day, someone reached out and he touched their hand.
Mia: I wanna tell you a story about a group of people who have never been in the same place at the same time, geographically speaking, though they have met in shared space time often for more than a year. I want to tell you how they come to each other with the intention of building in right relationship and how they talk and listen and how they ask hard questions together and how they use tools that don't always work and create workarounds that are not perfect but allow them to find each other again and again. I'd like to tell you about how they allow their thinking and feeling to be revised through exposure to one another's realities and truths and dreams. I would like to tell you about how they lean into the awkward unknowns, where language fails us and they stay. How they make invitations to one another and arrive in their own perfect shape, whatever that looks, feels, behaves like and how they decline invitation and remain welcome again and again and again. I'd like to tell you about how that group because of the ways in which they have endeavored and intended to be together, can arrive to a moment with very little prescription and even preparation, and still create something out of organic fission that is meaningful and enlightening and depthful and useful, that is curative, that is responsive. I'd like to tell you about how they continue to meet from afar with each other and navigate shared time space, and then the ways in which they extend the circle of their relationship outward to those who didn't receive perhaps direct invitation to the small circle itself for many reasons, sometimes because circles have to be small in order to be healthy or because those relationships didn't yet exist or because we didn't know about each other. And about how in modeling the ways that they come together, they perhaps open a channel, a pathway, a bridge for someone else to feel their own embodiment and their own truth and their own longing to be reflected and to know that there is a space where somewhere people are working in that messiness and that's the end of my story. This is Mia, check.
Jill: So I'd like to tell you all, this is Jill, and I would like to invite you to imagine with me a creation story or a root story, a foundational story about the making of young artists and the shaping and molding of those young artists. I'd like you to imagine with me, I invite you to imagine with me, a space that all can enter regardless of age or ability or skin color or I'm gonna say, for want of a better word or phrase, voice color. Voice color, the color of their oral expression. I'm going to invite you to imagine with me that within this space, those elder artists, who are accepting students that they'll train, who are wanting students that they'll train, who invite students to come in and display their talents, have found a way to see the beauty of every storyteller or potential storyteller or wannabe storyteller who walks into this easily accessible space and the importance and the crucial value of not only the content of the story that they tell but the container out of which that story emerges and that is the physical container and again for want of better articulation, abilities on my part, the color, the container, the breath container or the shape of the story that emerges and resonates from their mouths. And that those people then who come into the space and have been given this invitation, that we imagine the teachers, who have, those teachers, those elders, I'll say, who have seen the beauty and the value and the importance and understand that just as in a garden, every plant must be treated differently, gets different water, different amounts of sunlight, even planted at a different time and covered or not covered, et cetera, et cetera. That each of these two-legged flowers in their gardens, each of these human flowers and storytellers, they require different, they require something more than a set agenda, set training, that they require threshold chambers in which they can be nurtured and to grow. And that when those people, when those young artists step out into the world, they don't step out as students, as people who carry scars of bullying, who carry scars of both the trauma that comes with the advice to just suck it up, unvoiced trauma, et cetera, et cetera, that they come out healthy and happy and joyful and feeling blessed in their training so that when they move into spaces and become those who either train or direct or produce, that they see the beauty and the value around them, and that they hold, that the fire that Jessica was speaking of, is also carried within them, a fire, a passion to nurture, to keep those other fires alight and growing and to make those spaces always open, no access denied. And that's my story.
Grant: Thank you. One of the lovely things about chambers is the flexibility that they have. And there's an important invitation by one of our organizers to make sure that Carmen and Landon, you both have space to share stories, rather than closing this chamber just because of time arbitrarily. So Carmen or Landon, is there anything that you two would like to share?
Carmen: Thanks for the offer, Grant, I'm all right, and I'm happy to move on if folks are in that place, too. Thank you.
Landon: Landon here, thank you, I agree with you, Carmen, I'm all right.
Grant: Okay, well let's then shift into digesting.
Claudia: For my aftercare, I'm going to go off camera but I'll still be present.
Grant: Continuing the thread of aftercare, is there any other aftercare folks need? Landon, your cat is so supportive of my aftercare needs. I love seeing your cat in the shot.
DeLesslin “Roo”: My aftercare need is just sinking in to what was offered in that moment.
Landon: Landon here, thank you y'all, sorry about my cat, she's so rambunctious, moves around a lot in my face.
Grant: So I wonder if there's a way to honor our time constraints and also make the space for reflection. I wonder if there's somebody of our group who feels like, "I have the reflection "that I really need to share." So rather than feeling a pull like, "Oh, I could say something," if there's somebody who is like, "I've got it and I need to say this," if you feel like you are that person, I extend the invitation for you to be that person right now before we close this chamber formally.
Mia: Can I add an offer inside of that, Grant?
Grant: Please, of course.
Mia: One of the things I am really curious about is how a synthesis somehow of the stories that we just shared, could be applied to the work that we're doing virtually now, as a reflection of the unique embodiments that we bring into our shared practice. So is that question clear? No?
Grant: I’ll say as facilitator, what I hear in that question Mia, is how does the storytelling and threshold practice that we just used, apply to virtual space. And that this is an invitation for reflection. I'd like to propose, that you might have actually been our final person to reflect and that that question was itself, the reflection, that this group maybe was looking for. And that this question of how what we just did, a part of creating in virtual space, is very much the answer to some of the stories that were shared. So unless there's anybody who really wants to respond more directly to Mia's question, I would like to propose that that reflection was sort of a signal of the close of this chamber. Mind typing down the question? Of course not. How does the storytelling and threshold practice we just used, just to clarify what I am doing right now, in the chat, Landon just asked for this to be typed out. We just used, relate to virtual gathering. The question was, how does storytelling and threshold practice we just used relate to virtual gathering?
DeLesslin “Roo”: I wanna echo what you said, Grant and say I feel like that's a great question for us to walk away with in this session. And given respecting of time commitments that people have Made, I do want to maybe pivot over to Tiare to walk us through what they've been working on and then go into a close out from all of our collaborators in this moment. So if that doesn't feel good, please say something but otherwise, I feel like we should move in that direction.
Grant: I just want to use the phrase ethical transitions, which is something my collaborative partner and I have been working on, so I just wanna thank you for the modeling of ethical transitions as a part of prefigurative spaces, Roo.
Grant: Thanks, Grant. So I'm gonna use my ultimate power as a coordinator and hand it over, it's mirrored image, so hand it over to Tiare to maybe show us what they've been working on and then we can move in to a close out.
Tiaré: Hello, do you wanna give me an idea of how long you were hoping I would take with this? Because I wanna be respectful of the time and the closing.
DeLesslin “Roo”: How about five minutes? Does that seem?
Tiaré: Yeah, that's great.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Respectful of what you're doing and also recognizing that we are going to come back to the amazing work that you've done, in future iterations of this project?
Tiaré: Yes, five minutes is great for me. So I'm just gonna move my computer around here so that you can see the whole drawing first as a zoomed out image. Okay, there we go, yeah so.
Mia: I’m just gonna interrupt for one second and I'm wondering if we can make Tiare, your screen, the only screen that is visible right now with the exception of perhaps, if we all go off camera with the exception of the interpreters, then the only thing we'll see is the interpretation and your screen, so if we all turn off our cameras.
Tiaré: Good idea, thanks, Mia. Oh smart. Okay, so I've zoomed out to show the entire canvas, which is probably about six feet long and four feet tall, taped to the wall of my bedroom here. And I wanted to say a little bit about the process first of drawing for your group and how that invitation for access needs and to listen to your body, it was such an enjoyable experience to draw with this group, for this conversation, because I often find in virtual spaces, for example, I was just talking to some of my fellow graphic recorders about the experience of digital graphic recording and how often it can be faster because people are uncomfortable with silence or space in between talking and so--
Mia: You can take and eat them, they'll be easier to put down.
Grant: Oh Mia, I think you need to go on mute.
Tiaré: Oh okay, and so yeah, just like the experience of how important it is for everyone in virtual spaces too when the facilitators invite people to take care of your body and to have moments of pause, that really creates, I think, such a meaningful experience for participants and I feel it as the graphic recorder and it makes my experience of drawing more, just like enjoyable and so. I'm gonna walk through what was drawn here. So practicing the future we imagine. And this first section of the poster is a drawing of people and computer screens and it's a review of the introduction. So names and pronouns with an acknowledgment that not all languages have gendered pronouns. Similarly describing someone's physical appearance really depends on the way that that language approaches that, so there's not necessarily one way to do that. Indigenous lands and access needs, and also your practice. And taking that generous time in the beginning as a way to have space to get grounded together. And then I'm moving over to the center of the poster. Oh I should say, I also drew a tulip with some yellow and some leaves and the ground there, sort of grounding that image. And then the next section of the poster, I've created a bold yellow title that says threshold practice. There is a swoop, a teal swoop, that connects four sections underneath threshold practice. The first section is call a chamber and then then second session says negotiate witness, and the third section says rest, integrate, digest. I have drawn a picture in call a chamber of the first chamber the group experimented with, which was, where do you feel most comfortable or how would your body feel most comfortable with a drawing of someone lying on the ground. And I'm just gonna highlight a couple moments in this, knowing that you'll have time to sit with the drawing later because I want to honor the time, and I see I'm pretty much at the time mark. So zooming out a bit, I've illustrated in more detail that first chamber so that people can have an idea of how to walkthrough that exercise. And then along the side, there are just two examples of the other chambers that were brought up in the group. They're circled in teal color. One says, "The future we want to speak, what occurs to you?" And another says, "I want to tell you a story "of an experience that reflects the future we want "or an experience that didn't, but how you wish it would." And so those are kind of leading, I imagine those as kind of prompts for further reflection and I'm going to leave it there. So thank you so much for inviting me to draw with you.
DeLesslin “Roo”: Thank you so much, Tiaré, that's gorgeous, and I'm so excited to just sit with it further in the future. Yeah, I just keep being drawn into it. I think that's so lovely what you've done for us and with us. Again, respecting time, I know we're about seven minutes away from when we committed to end this and so, I feel a need for us to, one, turn back on our videos if we have them muted, and two, to move toward a closing out. I don't feel a need to give a prompt for it but I do wanna give the caveat that since we did commit to ending at 9:15, 6:15, that if you do feel the need to log off, please feel free to without any guilt. There are so many drags on our time right now. And so, I'll just begin with my close out, which is that I was quite literally brought to tears by the stories that were shared in that space. And I'm not going to dive into any specific story, I'm getting teary-eyed again, I'm not gonna dive into any of those specifics but I messaged several people after they presented to say, you know, that was magical, this is magical, that we are creating magic and I don't mean that flippantly, but I feel all of the things that we do prior to getting to that moment, are the necessary ceremonial steps to getting towards that magic and that without them we can't experience what we experienced, and again, just I'm so grateful for the impromptu storytelling that was happening today and in the places it took me to. And I just wanna say, also in my body, I came into the space incredibly tight and I'm leaving the space much more open than how I came into it, so an incredible amount of gratitude to everyone who Made that possible tonight.
Jessica: This is Jessica, I just wanna narrate our name that as we take the time to arrive and check in, so to do we take a moment to close out before we go away. And I also want to, before we close out, just to acknowledge that the digital space that we've met on today is Zoom, their platform we're using to come together with is headquartered on what is now called San Jose, California, on the traditional lands of the Ohlone and Tamyen peoples. That acknowledgment of the physical space of where we are meeting, in this digital way is also an important one. And for my close out, I will just say that I am always so honored and grateful for what this experience allows me to pull into whatever the next part of my day is, so thank you all for sharing this space.
Claudia: As we are doing our final comments and reflections, I also invite all of the beautiful human beings who have been joining us digitally both right now in real time and asynchronously in the future, to comment on the Facebook page and please add your voice to this continuing and ongoing conversation we're having. And my reflection on this, well on our continuing exercises, I love that what we do is the learning of how we do it and it feels like a really whole process and practice. So I feel like I've left having exercised something, learned something more deeply but also having experienced like a creative creation process with you, which was just really lovely. And I also feel like healthy and good as a human being, so thank you.
Mia: In the tradition that I come from, we say that words make the world. And so I just wanna honor the world building that we exercised today and to really recognize it as that. So when Roo talked about magic, for me this was an incantation and invocation and a magic making labor that we co-engaged in and to really honor with so much gratitude, the willingness and the vulnerability of my collaborators and I'm so curious to hear the reflections of people who, as Claudia said, are tuning in now with us or asynchronously in the future who will join us, who are joining us, time is an illusion. We're together all at the same time, now is every time. So just curious to hear the reflections that come out from all of the directions and to know about the worlds that people are creating in their own circles right now, and the words that you're using to architect those worlds and how those words are being embodied in the practices that you're engaging in. So yeah and thank you all.
Carmen: Hi, it's Carmen. I just wanted to thank everybody for what they offered today and for the invitation to continue to prefigure a future that we wanna live in. I think it's sometimes, especially with all the difficulty, the challenges that I'm encountering now just with the whole COVID thing, I think it's hard to, yeah, sometimes it's hard to remember. It is hard to be in survival mode and it's hard to be in that place of like, that creative place for a potential for a future, a bright future. I want to remember that invitation to continue to prefigure and to be in this space. I also want to remember that invitation to find comfort as well, so thank you for bringing all of that together today everybody.
Tiaré: I wanted to say that this is really resonant with another gathering, I was in a gathering for the Social Venture Institute hosted in partnership with Hollyhock, and so it was a gathering of people that really like, the definition of entrepreneur for them was people who see needs in their communities and they've Made it their life's work to meet those needs. And Andrea Reimer, she's a politician, she spoke at the beginning and it's so cool, the like, resonance happening in this conversation and the practice of it as well. She spoke about the importance of in our nervous system, we can only feel curiosity or fear, you can't feel both at the same time because it's a trauma response, like the nervous system, like the brain is operating from two different places and so the importance of grounding of the body, of finding ways to connect with each other and sort of co-regulate, I think that this space that you're holding is like a really powerful online space to do that, so that it's possible to move from the place of fear and survival in our bodies and our nervous systems and into one of imagining and creating a future as we wanna see, and so thank you so much for inviting me to make visible that work that you're all contributing to.
Grant: This is Grant. I just wanna thank everybody for the opportunity to share threshold practice with you all. It really felt like such a gift to get to be in a chamber that was, I mean, I would say that in a way, it was called by you Jill, yesterday, the chamber of storing and restoring experiences that didn't work for us and really imagining how they could have. I'm just, I continue to be so nourished by this time together. The phrase tactile fireworks just keeps running through my mind right now, so thank you, Carmen, for that as well. I really appreciate the thing that you said, Roo, about the whole process that leads up to it as part of the ceremony. Like I like to imagine the idea that land acknowledgment and access check-ins are a part of calling a group chamber, and that it's a practice of our group that I've always deeply deeply appreciated, as we continue to do this work. I feel like I didn't do a proper description of the image that I'm using right now, which is a yellow, orange calendula from the garden of mine, that all of the yellow ones have round tips but this one had pointy tips, so I liked that it was singular in that, and I've put it on the virtual background behind me so that my head is covering the center of the flower and you can just see all the petals around it, which I just really like, but I did say I was gonna try to change my background more throughout this, so I'm gonna change it one more time, to this archway that is a part of our fig tree at Lenore, and it's like this ramshackle branches sort of stacked around one another, and then sort of looking through this kind of clovery, greenish place towards the fence and our other neighbors houses. And I like that it's like a portal to walk through as well. I was very nervous about facilitating today and I'm very glad to be at this end of this threshold and this chamber and so, so grateful to be sharing work with you all. Yeah, thanks.
Jill: Many thanks, everybody, it's Jill. Migwech. for your great good hearts and your great good spirits. It's been a true pleasure to reimagine, to start digging for that dirt, to start to dive with you and start digging for that stuff out of which we may and whether we do succeed or not, it's important that we try to re-create the world, thank you.
Mia: Just before we close out fully, I just wanted to mention that the next Praxis session for virtual collaboration is gonna be on May 15 and the theme of that conversation will be irreconcilable spaces and information will be distributed about that event shortly, both through Facebook on our page, Unsettling Dramaturgy, and through HowlRound as well, our wonderful partner.
DeLesslin “Roo”: I wanted to check in with Landon before we exit to see if they have any closing statements and also recognizing that Tara Moses who was here with us for most of it had to leave because of demands by what seems to be employers so much gratitude to Tara and also an invitation to Landon.
Landon: Hi, yes, hi everyone, I really looked forward to a lot of the discussions that we've had and I hope that we continue to have more in-depth conversations around the dramaturgy process because depending on those of us who have a lived experience, they're pretty interlocking with different experiences that we have, so I hope that we have more time to look at lived experiences when it comes to dramaturgy. And as I'm doing my work, I mean, obviously sign language is most paramount, right? That's not on the bottom of the list, you know, it's my most natural language, so it shouldn't be on the bottom, it needs to be on the top and I have that learned experience to share but I think I'd like to get some more specific examples from everyone 'cause I think that would help me a great deal and that would help me improve myself as an artist. But just food for thought for next time, if we could delve more in-depth on it because I could really use the tools and I wanna thank you so much for the opportunity for being included in this whole process, it's been wonderful, and that's my wrap-up, thank you.
Jessica: I think that's all of us, this is Jessica, perhaps can I turn it over to Mia to close us out? Or thank you, everybody, for coming, I don't know what happens after we close the technology but thank you all for being with us.
Mia: I think we just let HowlRound know, we're done and thank you so much for hosting this gathering for us.
[Everyone waves goodbye.]
Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration
April 30: Prefigurative Spaces OR Practicing the Future We Imagine!
Praxis Sessions for Virtual Collaboration is a 4-part series presented by Unsettling Dramaturgy. In this series, we address approaches to, and practices in online convening that centre unsettling, decolonization, indigenization, and disability justice in process design. This series emerges from our year+ of work and research in transnational convening and creative collaboration through virtual mediums. This series has been developed as our response to the turn towards online organizing that has followed the COVID-19 crisis.
Through this session we will discuss current creative projects and protocols that set a new cultural standard where Accessibility, Cripping and Indigenization of process design in virtual collaboration (and beyond) are approached as a living process of ongoing negotiation.
We will then activate some of what has been discussed through:
- Live facilitation of Grotto World's, Threshold Practice; AND
- An experiment in collaborative dramaturgy with those tuning in live.
This session will feature Unsettling Dramaturgy Creative Collaborators: Andrea Kovich, Carmen Papalia, Claudia Alick, Grant Miller, Jessica Schacht, Jessica Watkin, Jill Carter, Landon Krentz, Lindsay Eales, mia susan amir, Roo George-Warren, and Tara Moses
- This event will be streamed live on this page HowlRound and on the Unsettling Dramaturgy Facebook page
- Following an opening, Unsettling Dramaturgy Creative Collaborators will engage in an exchange on the theme. We will speak from our respective embodied knowledges and practices, with an orientation towards expanding collective practice as is relevant to local ecologies. We will take 10 minute breaks on the hour.
- There will be various opportunities throughout the session for participants to publicly and/or anonymously ask questions, provide reflections, and participate live. To interact with us during the event you can use one of the three options:
- Text or voice message us on WhatsApp at 1-803-323-7638
- Email us at email@example.com
- Comment on the the livestream on the Unsettling Dramaturgy Facebook page
- We also welcome your questions in advance of the session. Please send any questions you would like us to address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- A video recording of the session will be available after the session.
- CART will be available on the HowlRound live stream and here: https://recapd.com/w-bfDPIb
- ASL Interpretation will be available on both the facebook and HowlRound live streams.
PREVIOUS SESSIONS IN THIS SERIES
Session #1: Land Acknowledgements in virtual, cross-geographic collaboration can be viewed here: https://howlround.com/happenings/praxis-sessions-virtual-collaboration-land-acknowledgements
Session #2: Cripping Practice in virtual, cross-geographic collaboration can be viewed here: https://howlround.com/happenings/praxis-sessions-virtual-collaboration-cripping-practice
ABOUT UNSETTLING DRAMATURGY
Unsettling Dramaturgy is an ongoing project bringing together Crip and Indigenous dramaturgs from across so-called Canada and the United States who work in theatre, dance, and experimental performance.
Using digital platforms we gather to build relationships; to explore and document the critical convergences and divergences in our experiences and work; to amplify Crip and Indigenous aesthetics, ethics, practices, and leadership in our local, national and international performance ecologies; to push the conversations from inclusion to centring, from reconciliation to unsettling, decolonization, and Indigenizing.
This project considers the studio, the stage, and the street as porous and interconnected politicized spaces; spaces impacted by and implicated in the current political climate and historical contexts; spaces where urgent critique, and visionary futures can be imagined, practiced, enacted, and then disseminated to/co-created with a wider public.
This project grounds itself as a continuation of the thriving legacies of leadership and innovation that shape Indigenous and Crip dramaturgies, which precede, survive and move beyond settler colonialism. This project brings together artists from communities that have been historically excluded from mainstream performance ecologies, and which have been further siloed into spaces of making that have systematically prevented critical cross-community collaboration. We are dismantling those silos to advance emerging conversations exploring the conflux of leadership and representation in creation and production as relate to Indigenous sovereignty and Deaf, Mad and Disability culture in the arts. We are generating a platform for self-determined encounter and exchange where our local bodies of knowledge can be activated.
It bears importance to share that this project does not aim to collapse Crip and Indigenous dramaturgies and experiences. The exclusions that our communities face emerge from very specific historical, cultural and political contexts. Further, the ableism, sanism, and audism that Deaf, Disabled and MAD artists face emerge from colonial ways of assigning value and human dignity.
We use Crip to include those who identify as Mad, Sick and Disabled, as well as those who are deemed disabled by society and/or medical institutions whether or not they themselves accept that term; for example those for whom d/Deafness is a cultural identity not a medical condition. We use the word crip as a political intervention, to turn attention onto, and to disrupt, as our collaborator Carmen Papalia writes, the disabling conditions that limit a person and/or community’s agency and potential to thrive.
We use the Indigenous with an acknowledgement of the many complex ways that community, family, belonging, polity, and heritage interact with systems of State recognition.
The words Crip and Indigenous are both used as shorthand and are not intended to generalize or reduce our vast multiplicity of identities, experiences and affiliations.
This project is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des arts du Canada and the LMDA: Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas Bly Creative Capacity Grant.
About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email email@example.com, or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.
The ASL-English interpretation serves to facilitate communication and does not constitute an authentic record of the original signed and/or spoken language. Only the original signed and/or spoken language, or the revised written translation is considered authentic.