This week began rehearsals for mine and my friends thesis. We both wrote One-Act plays with 4 Woman casts. This was in an effort to 1) Only need a cast of 4 between the two of us 2) Create more female roles and 3) reflect the casting pool that exists at our school. This made a lot of sense. It seemed like a full proof idea on paper
That is until we were in the room… or more specifically I was in the room.
I am the only cis male involved in this production. I am also one of the oldest people in the room. The play I am directing also deals with CSA, Sexual Assault, and Suicide.
There are a lot of power dynamics at play in this room… and the full proof paper plan meets reality when the one white man walks in the room.
I originally wanted to write this post about how exciting it is to spontaneously re-write a script and hear my characters come to life… and maybe one day I will write that post, but after two nights of directing thats not what needs to be said.
I will not be talking about anyone’s experience in this room but my own. I think it is important to lead with that.
When I enter the room I become increasingly aware I am the only cisgendered man. I have this awareness for a reason. With the content we are discussing anything I say can have more meanings than the direct ones I may mean. Yes, this is true of all situations, but the gravity of miscommunication in this setting is far graver. For that reason I have made it clear that the cast and crew at any time can tell me, our cast representative, or our SM that I need to either stop saying what Im saying, direct differently, or even leave the room for a short period of time. The safety of this group is more important than my ego. It is also more important than me looking like a good director.
I also am aware that any personal experiences a person involved with the production may have had play a roll with me in the room. If a memory, an experience, etc… returns to someone, I may be a person they do not want to have around. Yet again, I need to put my ego aside for room safety.
It does not matter how much I acknowledge my privilege, I am never exempt of it. It does not matter how caring I am, because others experience may have nothing to do with me. It doesn’t matter what I think is best for the individual, but what the individual knows is best for themselves.