About a month and a half ago, I asked Vahishta Vafadari, "Hey, wanna do a thing?" and I had no idea we'd have so much fun. We met in coffee shops, apartments, and snuck into TTS (shh), and at all hours of the day when we could fit time between our schedules. (And thanks to Tyler Esselman and Gaby Labotka for being extra eyes!)
I'm very proud of our work and to be part of a bigger story that included many amazing women/men/folx working to champion thrilling, and most importantly safe work.
We were asked to come up with a mission statement:
"As women are often on the receiving end of staged violence, we wish to create a greater presence of female choreographers and fight captains in the theatrical community, in an effort to diversify those positions and approach the conception of violence with confidence and ownership. We are both artists who have graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University and are both interested in learning more about choreographing violence. We hope to amplify this project’s ideals by tracking our experiences of the feminine perspective in the fight community."
To that promise, I have begun to track. My initial thoughts are:
Recently the Chicago Theatre scene felt a loss as on- and off-stage abuse was brought to light about a certain company. This was so egregious because what should have been a moment of safety and control for those actors and actresses became something acutely dangerous. This flagrant abuse of power turned these performers from portraying victims in a show to victims in real life.
As a woman, I live with the threat of violence every day. I worry about my safety when I am alone almost all the time, and that’s magnified exponentially between the hours of 8pm and 5am. If I am at the mercy of the threat of violence at all times in my personal and (as we have seen as of late) my professional life, why would I want to spend more time surrounding myself with the study of violence?
1. I can set up others with the right information from the beginning, so they never have to be victim to a situation by naiveté.
2. I can encourage others to take part in a dialogue about voicing discomfort and consent. By checking in every step of the way, actors learn to communicate about their bodies and their needs.
3. I can tell stories that require the full physical capacity of the human body. Violence (or strong action) occurs when people are passionate about their desires... and isn't that exciting.
About this blog
A place to post updates about what I am involved in as well as my experience navigating the Chicago theatre community.
Claire Allegra Taylor is a cultivator, investigator, and questioner of human relationships. She firmly believes that humans can always do better, be it in our treatment of the ones we love, our desire to fix epidemic social problems, or our care for our environment. Claire wants to use theatre as a means to show how this is possible. She would like to create work that is vibrant in its language and physical capacity that challenges a modern audience’s expectations.