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.
Instead of "What work can I get?" ...now, it's "what work can I make?"
Some mildly coherent thoughts on graduating school, and gaining confidence to be an artist.
Happy to announce that I have now received the following certifications from the SAFD in these categories:
Unarmed: Recommended Pass
Rapier and Dagger: Recommended Pass
Small Sword: Recommended Pass
Quarterstaff: Recommended Pass
Broadsword: Recommended Pass
In March, I tested to receive Basic Passes in Rapier and Dagger and Small Sword. I wasn't satisfied, so in addition to the two new weapons for the quarter, I chose to spend another eight weeks re-training and working to up my level. Glad it paid off!
I have also chosen to join as a member of the SAFD as an Actor Combatant. Only one more weapon and I'll jump to an Advanced Actor Combatant. What a great way to end the school year!
Very excited to announce that I am now certified by the Society of American Fight Directors as of March, 2016 in the following weapons:
Basic Pass in Small Sword by the SAFD, 2016
Basic Pass in Rapier and Dagger by the SAFD, 2016
Recommended Pass in Unarmed by the SAFD, 2016
A big thank you to Nick Sandys for providing instruction and choreography, as well as my partners Briget Diehl, Julia Atkin, and Jalen Gilbert. I'm already excited for the next tests in May!
Check out Otherworld Theatre here.
For the last two months I have been taking the Intro to Too Much Light class with the Neo-Futurists. TMLMTBGB was my first taste of Chicago theatre when I came to the city for the first time in 2012. Since then it has remained one of my favorite weekend events and a model of truthful, exciting performance. I have wanted to take the class for many months but balancing a rehearsal process and extra-curricular work is always hard. I am so glad the dates worked out in my favor this time.
The class, led by Aristic Director Bilal Dardai and Ensemble Member Malic White, has been everything I expected and more. Each week we are instructed about a specific form of play, and come in the next week having tried our hand at creating one. We then show and critique our work to get a handful of polished plays we can pitch at the end of the process for our showing that is open to the community.
Which brings me to... our showing! My classmates and I will be doing our own TML-style show! We will be attempting to perform 20 plays in 40 minutes. Come join us at 3:00pm at the Neo-Futurarium to celebrate our work. The show is completely free so you won't want to miss it.
Follow the facebook event for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/870347153034603/
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.