January 19, 2012

Know a director? "Tulpa" needs one!

I wrote a play called TULPA, OR ANNE&ME that debuted at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity in June 2011. I would like to do it again for 2012, and I'm putting together the team I want to work with.

Part whimsical fantasy, part social commentary, part gothic horror, TULPA, OR ANNE&ME tells the story of a withdrawn artist whose life gets turned upside down when Anne Hathaway crawls out of her television. With the help of her powerful imagination and two outspoken Guardian Angels of Blackness, she and Anne struggle to find a way to connect to one another. What unfolds is an intimate portrait of a relationship that asks us how race impacts what two people can truly be to each other.

This play needs a DIRECTOR who can . . .

  • apply anti-racist principles and practices to all aspects of production
  • create an amazing theatrical experience with limited tech and budget
  • respect the playwright's voice and vision
  • collaborate with the playwright to select cast and crew
  • schedule and attend all rehearsals
  • maintain a healthy working environment 

Although education and experience are definitely helpful, what matters most is your passion, vision, and commitment - and, of course, how easy you are to work with.

When looking over candidates, what I am trying to figure out is: What makes this person particularly qualified to assume a leadership role in a theatre project where the experience of being a gay African American woman is a big part of its meaning?

Because of the play's subject matter and my personal interest in giving opportunities to underrepresented theatre artists, LGBTQ people of color are strongly encouraged to reach out.

I am seeking to make my final selection by February 1. Please send all inquiries and supporting materials (if any) to: Shawn C. Harris (writer and producer) at whoisyourtulpa[at]gmail[dot]com.

For more information about the journey of TULPA, OR ANNE&ME, see http://indiegogo.com/tulpa2012.

January 12, 2012

"Tulpa, or Anne&Me" fundraising campaign ends TODAY

On January 12 at 11:59pm EST, the IndieGoGo campaign for my play, Tulpa, or Anne&Me is ending. Although people have supported the project by contributing a total of about $1,700, there is still $1,300 to go.

Let’s break this down mathematically. If only 130 readers each donate just $10 TODAY, Tulpa, or Anne&Me will reach its fundraising goal.

With so many conversations going on about who gets to tell stories about people of color, the importance of things like “Shit White Girls Say … To Black Girls,” the release of George Lucas’ Red Tails, and otherwise being an ally supporting voices of color in arts and entertainment, your contribution sends a message that it matters to you that these find their way on stage and screen, that it matters who tells these stories, that it matters who benefits from these stories, and that it matters who gets to witness these stories.

Tell the world that it matters to you. Take a couple of moments to say so now.

P.S. If you are sick and tired of first-person shooters starring square-jawed White dudes, you should check out and support the Arkh Project too.

January 6, 2012

2012: The year of Black people as subjects

Kicking off 2012 on the racism front, we have this video, "Shit White Girls Say . . . to Black Girls"

And then we have this post at A Poor Player, which prompted 99Seats to write "Shit White Theatremakers Say" (and then "More Shit White Theatremakers Say" in response to Scott's comment on the original post and in 99Seats' follow-up).

I'm not going to weigh in on that particular discussion because, frankly, I'm tired of it. I can't even work up the energy to get pissed off. But, I can say that it has been my experience that when I told Black people outside of theatre that I'm a playwright, several Black people piped up and told me that they used to enjoy participating in theatre but got out of it because it's so racist.

What I am going to mention, which the video and the blog posts at A Poor Player and by 99Seats exemplify, is a trend I noticed in 2011 that I'm hoping will be over for 2012. For lack of a better term, I'm going to call it Black People* As Objects. To be more precise, I'm talking about Black people as objects of ridicule, scorn, fear, study, charity, validation, and so on. From that ridiculous article in Psychology Today about Black women being "objectively" less attractive than women of other races to pretty much anything that comes from the mouth of a GOP candidate about Black folks, it seems that a lot of people who are not Black have a lot to say about what the lives and actions of Black people are supposed to mean. Essentially attempting to probe and prod us like lab animals. Which could almost not be racist if said individuals, I dunno, bothered to actually have a conversation with Black people (as in Black persons, not Black People (TM)) where they sought to truly understand and relate to us as persons and not as objects or symbols.

I don't put a lot of stock into new year's resolutions, but if I were to make one for myself, I'd say that 2012 is the Year of Black People as Subjects -- subjects who live their own lives, have their own reasons for doing things, experience their own trials and triumphs, construct their own meanings, have their own thoughts and feelings as beliefs, and so on. The challenge for 2012 will be focusing my energy on those who are capable of talking to and talking with Black people and not talking at, talking for, or talking about us. From now on, I'm only going to get involved with discussions that involve Black people only when I can see that the discussion is framed around Black people as subjects. If that is not the case, I'm generally going to ignore it or poke fun at it. Maybe even link to this post, if I'm feeling generous.

The rule of thumb is this: if the discussion is about Black people or people of color, and not by Black people or people of color, it should ask Black people or people of color for their input. Not to debate or otherwise argue about basic shit (like whether racism is real in theatre or anywhere else), but to more fully understand something from the perspective of those who have to live with it.

I know that some people would ask, "Well, what about discussions about White people?" To be honest, that's not really my concern. Yes, that's a double standard. But it's a double standard I've experienced as necessary in order to have a real dialogue and not revert to White people telling Black people and other people of color what to do, what to say, how to say it, and how to think and feel about it. Which, again, goes back to treating Black people like objects.

And all that stuff I said above? That goes for discussions about women too.

* Particularly Black women for some reason. I don't know why so many people in 2011 were so interested in who we're dating (or not dating), fucking (or not fucking), marrying (or not marrying), or giving birth (or not giving birth) to.