DIVA- AN OPEN DEBRIEF
SO. Here I sit after DIVA'S first outing as a comedy show.
What have I learnt and what has it accomplished for The DWP?
Firstly, that this show is definitely making people think.
That's what it was meant to do.
Every comedy venue is totally different (something which will be no surprise to most solo artists) and you never really know how exactly they will differ or what kind of audience you will get.
The night is always the night, in the moment, times by around 1000 when you are working in the comedy genre... Add discussion to the mix and it was bound to get very interesting.
Secondly, that even when you are talking about being misunderstood, being able to handle it and aiming to RECLAIM it-some people will still focus on the situations and the adversity you have faced- rather than the solutions...
I've been focusing on what I believe is the solution; the reclamation of power through expression, performance and education.
It's true, I wanted this piece to be the catalyst for discussion; the Helena of Troy of The Different Women Project.
A DIVA to launch a thousand ships so to speak...It has achieved that-in a way even I would not have predicted:
In the Q & A's, I have been both fascinated, flattered and touched by the reactions that both performers and people from the LGBTQ scene, of all races, have had to the show.
I was faced with people who are clearly desperate to gain an understanding of each others worlds and yet are still afraid of offending each other by saying the wrong thing, and so these people stayed for a lengthy amount of time in order to both be heard and hear each other in an honest discussion for the first time. A discussion which led some of them to go and do actual research on the things they did not understand... BOOM.
I was faced with women of mixed origin, who had never seen themselves represented so accurately on stage before, who have been placed in boxes all their lives and yet never been truly recognised for their own worth. These women were being brought close to tears because the things they were feeling, thinking and experiencing, had finally been said out loud. For. The First. Time. And in the Q & A's, they got to express it for themselves. BOOM.
Well maybe 'Thud'... because it's with a heavy heart I see this vulnerability still being so prevalent and unspoken.
I was faced with others that despite being white, (male or female) simply found it hilarious and relatable that every women goes through the same struggle with her vagina having a mind of it's own on a daily basis... A reminder that our reactions and interactions with each other as human beings are both adorable and ridiculous. These audience members also walked away with a sense that being different is actually rather 'kool' and a new outlook on their own privilege. BOOM indeed.
I was also faced with people only passing comment on the realities I have dealt with as a mixed race or bisexual woman...This one caused a reaction in me I did not expect.
Although I have experienced many forms of prejudice and disrespect- must it come at the expense of the very obvious comedy in the situation? People crying with laughter in my audience should speak to the fact that it's a comedy show- shouldn't it? So why am I bothered by the focus on me having faced 'disrespect'....
Well maybe I hadn't realised it was so called 'disrespect'...
Because as a person facing the reality, as with many in my situation, you just 'keep on keeping on'.
You learn to make do, you remember (you always remember) but if you are to make something of yourself and grow, you must let yourself rail, rage and then do something about it if you feel strong enough to keep on fighting the fight.
It's true that this is an exhausting and upsetting process. Especially when people don't understand it and say you should stop.
Perhaps, that experience resonates the most for some people. People who feel, I, 'we' clearly shouldn't have to go through these things in the first place-because these experiences are all in all, still, quite shocking. Some individuals are outraged on my behalf, that I can understand.
But on the flip-side maybe it's because that wasn't the premise of the show, the premise was that my experiences have made me who I am-prejudice or not, because I have lived through them and come out the other side a stronger, better person; A DIVA. Which is a Good Thing-as I explain in the show. That empowerment is the focus, the fact that we CAN turn things around and embrace who we are despite being misunderstood.
It has been a roller coaster both putting DIVA together and experiencing it for myself as a writer, artist and comedian. It has opened my eyes to my own struggles in some sense and definitely jammed matchsticks in my eyes as to other peoples experiences and feelings on the issues raised in the show. The truth is, as a result of the show and the Q&As, I have quite simply been blown away by how on point my feelings were about the need to do this and how much people have related to the experiences I have described.
I have been hugged and thanked. Not for my performance- but because I have given people a voice.
Whilst it is true I set out to give Different Women ( including myself) a voice in the arts, telling you all this in a written piece does not have the aim to draw your attention to what I have accomplished; it serves the purpose of telling you that I have validated the need for change through performance and the most moving qualitative research, the best kind, the stuff that comes from REAL PEOPLE.
I am glad I created the Different Women Project and even more glad I sucked it up and got up there on my own.
DIVA will continue to evolve... I question whether it will ever be 'A Finished Show', it will always be a show that progresses because that is the nature of comedy... It moves with the people.
And we as humanity, are capable of progress.
I hope people buy my track when it comes out- not because I want heaps of money (let's get real here) but because it is a celebration of that PROGRESS and those REAL PEOPLE.
Because I want you, the one that believes in change to rock out to an anthem you can relate to. That's why I wrote it.
If you have any doubt at all, that the people I mention need support, mentors, a community that both embraces and understands them and that there is a need for multi-level change in the media and performance arts world, I hope reading this has helped you understand this pressing reality and that you will reach out if you want to know more.
From the Diva Herself,