The Body Barrier Chronicles – For De Pips

The gang’s back together for a second run of the play ‘Body=Barrier’. And we had an interesting conversation about what the characters were really up to, and what was their motivations for doing the things that they were up to. These things are always meaningful parts of the rehearsal process, not only because you get to hear what the actors think about the folks that they are playing, but because you get to hear how people are interacting with the character and what they receive. Most of the cast, I thought, would say that the humans in the play were interested in compensating for a Love or a longing of some sort. They didn’t.
Instead, they said that what the characters do is nothing more than an image statement.

Now, I’m not sure whether I agree with them. Angela, for instance, isn’t really that egotistic…but they’re on to something to some degree. After all, Angela has every opportunity to admit to herself that she’s not interested in the same things as her classmates, and just leave it at that. But she always finds herself wanting to go back, simply because she wants the attention of these people.
So many people around us are simply doing things for the image value of the thing – what we Trinis call ‘pips’. We don’t smoke weed because we think that it’s got spiritual value or will heighten an experience of some sort. We smoke it because it’s got some social value to us. We think it helps us have more fun, and connect to a group of people we want to connect to more. we smoke it because of the culture and community it connects us to, regardless of the fact that the community probably doesn’t benefit us in a great many ways…

It’s the same way that young people approach a lot of things in this world today, at least from what my cast and I imagine. What most people don’t realize is that the teenage years are the ones where community and association are incredibly important. In fact, how we make friends in high school determines what we think about ourselves and even who we think we are. And beyond the fact that we know that it’s not healthy, we still do most of our things to fit in with the mindless mob.

When you look at it that way, it’s very likely that everyone’s a victim, isn’t it? The bullies, cool kids, troublemakers…all the cliques you remember making your life difficult in school, they were just trying to get by in a system that is manoeuvred by a person’s social standing in the group. And we’d do anything not to have our lives made difficult. So we try to get with the cool kids, or sometimes we become bullies and troublemakers. We do what they do, and try to do it how they do it, so that we can get where they are.
Angela, the main character of ‘Body=Barrier’, is a complex character. In my heart of hearts, I think that she knows that she has no right in this place, with these people. She’s not into the things that these people are into. But the problem is, the place that she is truly supposed to be isn’t physical. So she’s…trapped there, in a sense, trying to make the best out of a place where she simply does not fit in. And, considering how the human psyche works, everyone needs community, even Angela. So she tries to find it in this place, even though it’s not what she needs. It’s about Angela feeling Loved. But, maybe more importantly, it’s about her feeling as though she’s here, and that it matters that she’s here.

I want the play to break that system playing in young kids’ minds – that they have to do things they’re not ready for or aren’t supposed to do simply because the folks in school are doing it and they seem to be having a good time. Good times don’t determine good things. Good work and good reasons do. And I want all the Angelas that see the play to find good reasons for themselves and their lives and the people they allow into them, not just ‘for de pips’.

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Bodies and Barriers and Beginnings

So, a few months ago I embarked on my own solo playwriting project, called “Body=Barrier”. After working on yet another faith-based play, as well as getting a little directing and acting experience in the process, and after creating a few other things in the process, I finally managed to finish it. But just when I thought that I would get a breather, I found something else to do.

Right after I finished writing it, I decided that I’d try to direct it. For a show just short of two months later. Because I’m crazy.

And now here I am, one month away from my first staged solo directorial debut, for a play that I wrote myself, at the National Drama Association’s national theatre event, ‘The Festival’. Not only will I be performing on the same stage with the person I’ve co-directed with for the past three years, but I’ll also be sharing the title of ‘director’ with three of my directing and performance mentors. Because you can never have enough pressure.

The entire idea is to build an opportunity for me and some of the other passionate young thespians I’ve been sharing space with for the past few years to have a place that they can built and experiment and challenge and critique through their art. Because that’s exactly what art is – constructive, experimental, challenging, critical… Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what we want to create – artIS…but more on that in a future post…

Anyway, just letting you folks know I’m in the coliseum, taking some friends with me, fighting the lion. And as Basdeo Panday once said, “When you see me and the lion fighting, doh feel sorry for me…”

The Body Barrier Chronicles – Faith Ain’t Straight and Narrow

Shawn Smart and I just finished ‘2 Creations’, and I must say it truly was a spiritual experience… The production tested some wills, had it’s own fair share of trials, almost made some folks sin their souls, and at the end the entire play came down to faith. We had never done a full run of the play, had no idea of some of the cues, never even had a real dress rehearsal. But at the end of the day, when the lights were on and showtime began, it was a blast.

That’s the first lesson I’ve learned from directing – have faith. Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles: How T-shirts Can Change Your Sexuality

Image

If you’re a friend or even decent acquaintance of mine, you would know that the above t-shirt is actually my favorite article of clothing in the entire world. My brother and I helped come up with the slogan when I was planning an activist event in 2010, and since then I’ve worn this baby a couple hundred times. I’ve even asked the organization I was working for to make more, just so I can buy another one.

And because I sometimes have violent bouts of either activism of douchebaggery, I sometimes where it in social situations where it is unusual, ironic, or just plain controversial. I’ve gone to churches with it. I’ve deliberately worn it to hang out with homophobes. I’ve taught classes at a faith-based secondary school with it on.

I’ve even gone to rehearsals for a Christian play with it on. Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles: Faithful Play, Faithless Director

The ticket for my play '2 Creations'. If you're interested, I've got some!

The ticket for my play ‘2 Creations’. If you’re interested, I’ve got some!

When I jumped on board a project to write and direct a Christian play with a mentor and friend of mine, I knew it was going to be hard. I signed on, because it was already something I was doing as a personal project – ‘Body=Barrier’. I was excited to see whether my own writing was up for the challenge, and whether I could direct something that was not only outside my experience but was an experience that I rejected in my own life so long ago.

Turns out that’s not the problem at all… Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles – What’s the Barrier?

They say is the devils themselves that make our bodies…that they does see our souls, bright and beautiful, gliding down from Heaven to touch the earth powerfully, and grab them. Snatch them up before they reach, and sew their flesh around the spirit. Yuh see, is only our soul is in God image and likeness, eh…loving and compassionate and forever, like he is. But the flesh, it doh look like him at all. Pain stays on it, and it does want death. Pleasure teases it, and it does lust after all sorts of things not good for it. The devils does put us in these vessels, make them feel every single thing, until they can’t feel their soul anymore, and they think it no longer exists. And then the flesh gets spoiled, and it rots…and takes the soul with it.

– Eutrice, a character from ‘Body = Barrier’

So, I’m writing a play called Body = Barrier. It’s not my very first¬†play-writing¬†stint, but it’s definitely the one I’ve taken the most seriously. Part of the reason for that is because I think it’s just a beautiful idea for a play that I would Love to be able to put on stage myself. The other reason is because the play itself is one of a long line of spiritual revelations that I’ve had over the past few months that have come out of nowhere at hit me like a ton of bricks… Continue reading