The past couple years here at BU have been all about me finding my voice and using it. My whole life I’ve been the loud girl. I would talk a lot, my voice would always be the loudest, and I was usually the most talkative person around my friends. But somehow in theatre school, my voice has gotten lost. I am no longer the talkative one. I don’t speak up in classes. I get quiet when working with my classmates in artistic settings. Over the past couple semesters, my professors have been encouraging me to speak up. They say things along the lines of, “find your voice! Use it! You have things to say!” I agree with them, but I’m still struggling with that.
I’ve noticed my voice getting lost in my current process, which is Gem of the Ocean. I’ve been a very peculiar position in terms of my relationship with this process. Read my first blog post here for information on that. I have been casted in Gem of the Ocean as an extension of Aunt Ester’s character. My role in the show, Cestor, embodies the lineage, memories, ancestry and African heritage that Aunt Ester carries, as well as the beauty of the City of Bones. I am this magical, royal spirit that is embodied in Aunt Ester, and I am desperately looking for a new person as a host (specifically in Black Mary), as Aunt Ester is getting old and dying.
I am really excited about this role. It is very movement based and holds the spirit of African roots that are spoken about, but not necessarily explicitly shown in the play. The only thing that is tricky about this part is that we are creating it as we go since it is not a part that is written into the show. There is this juxtaposition of liberation and hindrance I am feeling from the process of creating this character. I have been lucky enough to have several solo sessions with my director where we have explored the physicality of this character and different African dance moves that I could possibly implement in the performance. These solo sessions have been extremely helpful and made me feel really comfortable, but I can’t help but feel that the whole cast isn’t exposed to what my character is doing and that I am not getting attention when the cast is in the room. We haven’t quite integrated the movement work I’m doing with the blocking of the show yet, which I’m sure will come soon, which makes me feel as though I am all alone and have to build my character on my own.
I am having trouble articulating to my director that I am feeling this difficulty with my character since my character does not interact with any other character in the show besides Aunt Ester (and Citizen Barlow in the City of Bones). I have had so much trouble asking for what I need. I am afraid of taking up everyone’s time in the process, though I am very apart of the process as everyone else is. I am still carrying the feeling of being a disturbance and a confusing presence in the room that I was feeling before when I was first introduced, and I need to let that go. In this process and other processes I have been in, it has been a challenge for me to stop what’s happening in the room to ask questions about my character. I don’t want to be selfish. I feel as though I’m stopping the forward momentum. This week I am challenging myself to speak up when I feel that I am confused or unsure of what is going on with my character in a specific instance. This character is completely made up by the director and me, and I should take time to develop her and ask questions about her. I feel that I have gotten better with using my voice and speaking up for myself, but I am still learning. I hope that I can use this process as strong developmental process. And, please, hold me accountable for using my voice!