There is something terribly radical about believing that one's own
experiences and images are important enough
to speak about, much less to write about and to perform.
--Deb Margolin, A Perfect Theater for One, 1997
Recently I've been thinking about how Anne&Me is, at its core, an act of radical subjectivity. For marginalized groups, it has always been a struggle to express the wholeness of who we are. Claiming the "I" - embracing one's own self as intrinsically valuable simply because it exists - is a radical political statement.
It is radical because affirming ourselves by telling our own stories and speaking our own truths, without an attempt at justification, is a transgressive and transformative act, a direct challenge to hegemonic power (the ultimate expression of which is the power to define what is true and worthy) and a catalyst for healing the internal wounds inflicted upon us by an environment that says that who we are doesn't matter. It undermines hegemonic power by revealing its own subjectivity, effectively neutralizing its power to define and determine truth and value for all people by exposing it as merely one truth among many.
This is not just a long-winded way of saying everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I'm talking about something far more nuanced and powerful: how we exist in this world. For someone with limited experience with marginalization (and I mean experience, not just entertaining the idea), it's easy to overlook or dismiss its importance. But those of us who live with marginalized identities know the power of finally realizing that we do not have to apologize for being ourselves or prove we are worthy of existing or endorse behaviors and attitudes that make us less whole.
Getting back to theatre and my current piece, Anne&Me is radical not only because it comes from me but because it's also about me - and as a piece of theatre, people literally have to see it. There's no filter named Narrator or Camera to distance people from it. It's right in their faces. In an earlier draft of the play, someone commented that it feels like someone's diary, so they were reluctant to critique it. At the time I was a bit annoyed by that, but now I'm in a position where I can say, "Good."