Recently I was cast in BU’s Identity Project, a devised piece of theatre that grapples with identity as a human being. From Day-1 of this project, I was overwhelmed.
A play out of nothing?
A good play out of nothing?
A play that asks real questions and provokes people to ask real questions out of NOTHING?!
The first few days of devising were harrrrddd. These past few months I’ve been so-very-early-2o’s-insecure about what I’m doing, what I want to do with my art, and who I am as an artist. See, I used to think I was going to be the voice of my generation–prolifically churning out important, non-gender-conforming, intersectionally-feminist, hard-hitting, sick-nasty plays that would win Obie’s and Tony’s and earn me an invite to the MET ball and the next Royal Wedding, but alas: I have yet to finish a single play. HAHAHAhahaha ha.
So when told that I would have to help bring a play into existence with my peers (i.e. show them how much of a creative-fraud I really was) I was petrified.
After a few days of biting my tongue, so as to not accidentally contribute THE DUMBEST IDEA EVER, and days of slapping my hand every time a concept came to me that wasn’t the next Hamilton, I was exhausted. AND! my work was wicked lame!
On my way to the fourth rehearsal I realized something: I started devising theatre when I was a toddler–and you probably did too. Remember playing, “house” or “teenagers”? Games where you would create characters and a story and use props that you found around your house, essentially creating a play out of nothing. Duh. Devising!
I was devising when I was playing Barbies, making up songs to sing to my babysitter, and writing spoooooooky stories to scare my little sister.
I wasn’t apologetic, or embarrassed, or insecure about devising then, and so why am I now? I used to be able to construct entire worlds in my back-yard with just a pool-noodle and a little reckless abandon.
So why can’t I contribute to the construction of a world, with an entire theatre, prop-closet, and a room full of brilliant out-of-the-box thinkers?
Devising is just letting creativity pour out without worrying about me, or my talent, or my image. Because the Identity Project is not about me. It’s so much greater.
In thinking about making something out of nothing, I’m reminded of one of my favorite Shakespeare quotes:
“I will do such things. What they are, I know not yet, but they shall be the terrors of the world” -King Lear.
And who knows? Maybe this is step one to scoring Prince Harry’s save the date!