I make theatre. I make theatre in museums, in prisons, in backyards, in city parks, and in my living room. I also make theatre in theaters, but I prefer alternative spaces. I am an artist because the theatre is a place where I can help people’s hearts beat together.
Theatre has always been my window on the world. Through that window I have learned almost everything I know, from geography and history to chemistry and physics. Theatre has taught me tenacity, patience, and the joys of collaboration.
Like all the arts, theatre has the power to move audiences in ways I have never imagined. I believe the arts are an untapped power in our society, especially in ways they can support social change.
I had the opportunity to participate in two workshops with Augusto Boal, Argentine/Brazilian theatre director and theorist, before his death in 2009. I had read his work about Theatre of the Oppressed and its capacity to put the audience at the center of performance, literally and figuratively. Until I was part of a workshop, I couldn’t really understand how his theories worked in practice. When I did understand, I immersed myself in Boal’s work; his ideas have inspired my approach to theatre ever since. I pride myself on being a Boalista.
Another major influence on my work has been Bertolt Brecht. My major professor in graduate school, Karl Weber, had been an assistant to Brecht, so Brecht’s theory and practice informed all his teaching, and my learning. For me, theatre is not merely an entertainment.
I believe all theatre is a political act. My latest work as an actress was in Deanna Jent’s “Bosnian-American” at Mustard Seed Theatre, an exploration of the lives of Bosnian immigrants to St. Louis and their histories. I am currently developing a performance with union workers about St. Louis’ labor history and its legacy in the 21st century.
I believe all the arts have an obligation to remind society of our ideals, as people and as citizens.