Whether you are headed toward your twenties, living through them now, or you remember what it was like, I hope this film helps us all have a little more compassion for one another. This time in my characters’ lives feels like a purgatory filled with miserable jobs–if you’re lucky to have a job– and tough financial circumstances. This is the economic and labor landscapes of my generation, however, “Kendra & Obi” essentially circulates around the foundation of support that their relationship provides. Without its stability and love, their struggle would seem insufferable.
Part of what makes “Kendra & Obi” tick is the amount of input and passion that our cast and crew brought to the table. On set and behind the scenes, from production to post, our collaborators were all African American. It was important to me as a filmmaker to utilize input from the communities I was representing on screen. I believe that following these characters as they reach for success and sanity gives us a chance to step back and reflect on our own experiences.
Vlog #3: Combatting depression by getting out the house/apartment/living space. Communicating your needs and the battle against misgendering when it comes to family, friends, coworkers, bosses, strangers. Animals never misgender anyone!
Vlog numero dos. It’s been a whole month on Testosterone for me and today I almost passed out getting my blood tests! I talk about what you’ll need to take with you to doctors visits and some of the things they test for.
Transitioning is a lifelong process and I can’t wait to have the body that I picture for myself. This is the first episode of a vlog series I am starting. It’s a video I want shared around so that others who may feel isolated in their experience can find a kindred spirit. This video is not perfect. It’s just the beginning of a discussion.
In some ways, we have come a long way. I can now turn on the TV or head to the movies and see gay, lesbian, or bisexual characters. Even more recently, I have even seen multiple transgender characters on shows like Orange is the New Black. But there was a time when these representations were less frequent, confined to art house films. I remember my fascination with transmen characters like Brandon in Boys Don’t Cry or Max from The L Word. I looked at them and wondered, “Is that me?” I used to deny just how much we ingest media into our personalities and our understandings of our physical beings, but I’ve come to recognize how I compare myself to the images presented. Since I have no gender fluid characters, I turn toward the lesbian and trans communities.
This quarterly magazine is devoted to science fiction and fantasy for younger readers, ages 8 to 80 or so. The stories focus on characters, on adventures, on folks coping with future developments or, in the case of fantasy, magical circumstances.
One day a bookstore named Open Books stood up and stretched. Shards of foundation fell away as she moved higher into the sky. The adults inside screamed and scattered throughout the store; they clung to tipping bookshelves and window frames. Open Books nudged her hips to the left and then to the right to settle the leaning bookshelves. The books clawed back to their assigned spaces like thick blood through veins as the children rushed from the building; they knew that adventure was in the air. Teenagers helped the children hop down from the last step of Open Books and they landed as gracefully as cats jumping from a counter. The adults followed behind the children and darted into the street like frantic bugs. Open Books now stood ten feet above the ground.
She yawned a massive yawn and shook off her years of sitting. The four corners of her roof tilted towards the sky and her windows stretched so wide a few splinters snapped from the frames. The crackling of her wood and brick woke her neighboring trees, whose eyes fluttered open heavily, the stiffness of their bark creaking like a rusty door. An old oak beamed a leafy green smile for encouragement. He expanded his roots until they curled through cracks of her basement’s foundation and she found she could control the roots like a fleet of crab legs. The old tree preened his roots like ingrown hairs and severed them from his stump. Open Books wiggled her new appendages and they tingled from years of disuse. Chunks of dirt splashed across the customers as they shielded their heads with trembling arms.
“Someone call the police!” a man shouted.
“No, call the president.”
It was only a moment before the woman who had spoken realized that the tree she was clinging to was awake as well. She yelped and leapt away.
“Leave Open Books alone,” cried a young boy. He was tiny, no taller than three basketballs balanced on top of one another. He puffed out his chest and inhaled so deeply that his voice was strong enough for the Bookstore to hear him. “Why did you stand up? Buildings are supposed to stay put.”
For those of you just starting out or already in the thick of it. I hope this soothes any production aches.
WARNING: You will be stressed. There will be egos. Don’t be afraid to stand firm in your vision for a production. Don’t cater to those who refuse to respect your time or opinion. There will be a few of these people no matter what and you will need to deal with them in a professional manner. If you know anything about theater know that the easiest thing you can accomplish is blacklisting yourself with a negative attitude, poor work ethic and gossip. Stay away from the gossip! It will swallow you whole like you are the first course of thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy yourself. There is a lot of responsibility but it will be worth it in the end. Actually, not every show will be worth it. Be wise enough to recognize which productions won’t be worth it. Take every factor into account before you agree to sign on: are you passionate about the material? Have you found the right director? Did you find the right space? Remember that bigger is most definitely not better when it comes to plays that need intimate spaces. There are exactly 123,456 things you must consider pre, pro and post-production. Side note: you won’t get to them all and it’s okay. Now, let me slow it down:
The realization that I’d reached the end of the Playwrighting and Drama course at the Center for Talent Development caught me off guard. It had been such an intense and immersive program that I’d become overly accustomed to the routine of each day’s discoveries and of getting to know these girls more and more and watching their progress. Then their parents came to take them home and suddenly it hit me: I had to give them back. I saw things in a new perspective. In the presence of the parents, the girls took on a new form because after all this was only three weeks of their lives, of my life.
Since “The Next Generation of Theater: Part 1,” I had set out to document how my process of producing plays was altered by the teaching of the craft. I had expected to learn how this program had impacted my writing, but I found as I worked on this third installment that I was struggling to find an overarching theme. After lots of self-analysis and pages of scribbled notes, I came to understand that teaching is creating.
As I finished my second week at the Center for Talent Development two questions stood out in my mind: What kind of material can I expect children to produce? How far can I push them to dig deeper? I tend to write the kinds of plays that leave audiences feeling “shell-shocked,” so it is a goal of mine to teach these girls how to find the real humanity of a piece. I wanted to help them reach into their hearts and delicately splatter their innermost thoughts throughout a play. Of course, most preteens have difficulty admitting that they have actual feelings at all. Thus began the journey of creating a balance between guiding them forward and letting them lean back.
Some may wonder why it’s even necessary to breach more personal topics in a three week summer enrichment class. But the type of work that can be produced from a little prodding is a major part of why I love working with children in theater. I quickly learned to never bring up the phrase “tell your deepest secret” around preteens unless the idea is to scare them away. But once I focused on understanding the circumstances of their everyday lives I managed to land on the right prompt. They were off and running.
When I was recommended for the Playwrighting and Drama Teaching Assistant position at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD) I knew I wanted to document the experience. How would teaching the craft of Playwrighting to children impact how I approached my work? I wondered how I would relate to the next generation and at the same time I was extraordinarily eager to see the material they would produce. The course would run from June 25th-July 14th, which meant Instructor John Foley and I would have just three weeks to provide our students with the foundation of how to write for theater.
Our thirteen students range in age from ten to twelve, and unlike in years before, we have a class of all girls. It was exciting to see young girls from around the country, several from around the world, interested in the dramatic arts. Most of our girls were born in 2000 therefore they don’t know a world before 9/11. Technology is engrained in them the way we cling to our notebooks and pens. But within the first few hours it was clear that this generation is just as keen as us to toss to their smart phones away and join in on some good old-fashioned face-to-face communication.