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(applause) I was speaking with Taneza Shawl, who is still in Egypt and couldn't

2019-04-26

Be here tonight, and this was about a year and-a-half ago, and as she is making her extraordinary and groundbreaking forays into experimental theater and performance, was talking about roots, and how she as a young black theater artist, noted the conspicuous absence of those like her in the popular discursive history about this work, and she said, "Where are your roots, Daniel" and I said, "My roots are in the river," and I longed for that river for years before I found it, and I first stepped foot into that river when I was 15 years old in Springfield, Massachusetts, and I was given an assignment from my first drum club experience to go find a monologue, and I didn't really know what that was, and I went to the section of plays, and I stood before it, and I didn't know, I didn't know, so I closed my eyes and I put my hand out, and I pulled a play down, that was For Colored Girls. (laughter) And I opened the book, and I knew this work, I knew this world, and I got to one piece in particular, and you know when you get sweaty, and all the hair stands up on your back, and you're nervous and your bones are shaking, and it said, "One thing I don't need is any more apologies. I got sorry meeting me at my front door. You can keep yours," right And I scrambled through the library book, and I saw the photograph of the woman who had delivered that monologue, the Lady in Blue. There she was. There, thank you, that's it, and I took it at the cardinal sin. I ripped the photograph out of the library book, (laughter) and I brought it home and I put it on my wall in my bedroom. Not seven years later, I was in graduate school, and Aisha Armond invited me to be part of a workshop of her play, and she said, "Oh, my friend's coming up from New York to direct it, my friend Laurie," and it wasn't until after we were working that I said, "That's Laurie Carlos, who used to be on my wall." The following summer, I went to the National Black Theater Festival, and I walked out of the van in North Carolina, and the first person I saw was Laurie Carlos, and she said to me, "We've been waiting for you." I longed for the river, and my longing for the river brought me to the river, but the river existed all along. My longing for the river was proof of the river's existence, and so tonight is about that river, and it's about my roots in that river, and it may be about our roots in that river. Londa Ross, Stacy Robinson. Come on. Welcome the river to the stage. (applause and incoherent speech) All right, it's already popping now, so let's go. Welcome everybody. Thank you. Thank you. This is how we do. Robin, can you tell a story about mining I came to New York in the mid-60s to go into theater, which is as vague as it was. (laughter) And found myself at a performance called Walk Together Children by Vanya Pearls, and I realized during her piece that this is what I came for, to stand and deliver things that felt right to me, and I remember that her last piece, I'm not sure it was her last piece, but that's the piece that felt like the last piece, was WEB and Booker T, and what I loved about it was that it was about the range of our lives as African American and American people. Beautiful, Stacy, do you have a question for Robbie I do. Robbie, I wanted to know, it's a big one. Uh oh. What story or belief did you have to let go of in order to be free, and how did you release that I had to let go of the belief that I had to get better. I think I grew up with thinking that there was something less than, and I ruled out slavery. That was just simply political. And Robbie, you have a piece of Stacy Robinson's performance, Quiet Frenzy, that you are gonna share with us. We decided that we were gonna give excerpts of one another's work to do. Thank you. Kaboom. What How'd I get a scar You know this, doc. Long story short, I was in a car accident with my sister. She died, I survived. No, there's really not a whole lot more to tell. I don't have any memory of it, the actual crash. It was hot, the first heat of spring, a record-breaker, a Saturday. We hadn't seen each other in a long time, my sister and I. We put on tight tank shorts, went to stroll. We spent hours walking in circles, holding hands. The people that couldn't take our eyes off of us. We were looking too good. We weren't wasting no time. We were together. That was our day. I remember I felt fully alive. Even my skin was breathing. She kept holding me, and I kept falling over because everything was funny. All day her tummy was tickling. When she was happy, her tummy would tick. We was moving as one, so my tummy was tickling, not just a twin thing. You know as a twin, sometimes you hear the other's thoughts, but this was more deliberate, as if she was directing herself into out of me. It made me giggle. We were eating sun. Must have been because of all of a sudden it was late dark, and so stupid, we were seven blocks away. Later, a cop told me there were a lot of DUIs that day, because it was so pretty. People all over the city had been celebrating the surprise holiday. Anyway, who pulls up beside us but the Upshot Boys. These guys we grew up with. They insisted on taking us home. Juke gave us the front seat because Bobo was real fat. There wasn't enough room for all of us in the back. We wouldn't have been comfortable. They always treated us real gentle, like real ladies. We were in the front. She was on my lap. Kaboom! Nothing I remember. I just remember losing breath, seeing Neecy, my sister, everywhere. She was multiplied many many many many many many many many many many many many times. All around me was Neecy dancing, holding me, hugging me cheek to cheek, tugging my ears, kissing my eyelids. Every part of her was singing this song we made up as kids. Angel oh angel my angel, oh angel. I was in bliss. I was erupting, all these new explosions of me. It was all of me was embraced by her. She kept singing, and I kept saying, "Neecy, oh Neecy, my Neecy. Isn't this the best day" (applause) Rhonda Rhodes, do you have a question for Stacy My question is, how does, no, let me rephrase that, does, and if so, how does, your spirit, your ancestry, and your people play a role in your artistic process While you're answering me, who are your people in that context They do play a role in the process. I see folks, I smell things, I hear things that are clearly not from me when I'm working. The more that I allow, the more that they are present. I think some of them are my ancestral folks, but I also think that they are the ancestry of the work that I'm supposed to do, or they may be either, there's lots of my bloodline that I don't know, so it may be bloodline. I think that it's been a process for me to embrace their presence and allow their input as completely as possible. That's the process of me, to keep allowing them as completely as possible. There's an excerpt from a new play that Jessica is working on, and we're going to have Alva Davis and Mya Buaten read this excerpt. Oh, interesting. That we read the stage directions at the top No. No. Okay. (laughs) 10,000 10,000. That's exactly what I said. My library extends to every room, even the kitchen and bathroom. Nothing like poetry in the kitchen, I always say, or when you're taking a shit first thing in the morning. I call it communing with God. Does the word shit offend you I understand that Filipinos are very gracious and refined. I can certainly curtail I love cursing. Do you You know I find it astonishing that you've never read or even God help me heard of Borgens given the fact that you call your personable library infinite, which is not only amusing but prescient, given the fact that I've read your poems right here, and can see that you have an ear, or shall we say released imagination and curiosity. Curiosity is essential, for without it you can't call yourself a writer and certainly not a poet, no matter how many twinkling metaphors you might string up like Christmas lights in here. Is it daring or rigor or honesty behind those festive Christmas lights then, it won't matter. You understand Now Borgens, despite being blind He's blind Blind, yes, but that did not stop the work. (laughter) And though I am not a fan of everything, I believe you should soak it all up like a sponge, even that quasi-mystical esoteric nonsense about tigers and female Chinese pirates. This is my theory, and only my theory, so you can dismiss it at any time. The blind man can't help himself. He's a repressed fairy, and probably a benign fascist to boot. Is benign fascist an oxymoron (laughs) Borges is Argentine, after all, and like a lot of Latin men, quite enormous boy, which I certainly don't mind. I adore pussy, but I've danced the tango with gorgeous fairies from Buenos Aires, and as you've probably heard, I'll try anything once, but fascism No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, fascism's different. It's like a cockroach. You can't dabble from it. You can't avoid it. You can't forget it exists. You can't be timid and let that fucking cockroach get away. You have to act fast. (laughter) Kill them on sight, even if it means using your bare hands or feet. We have giant ones in the Philippines called impestecklen. They fly. Impes Well, there you go. Flying fascists. And there's a dirty war going on in your mother country as we speak, just like the one in Chile and Argentina. Of course my theory about Borges has been called nutty and incoherent but I'm too old to give a shit about those assholes in New York. Here, a somewhat clunky translation by some Brit I've never heard of. Brits has no ears for the rhythms of Spanish, but it's better than nothing. Bring the blind man back when you're done, and you can borrow something else. Really You live close by. You deliver my mail. Come whenever you want, and pick out a book or two or three. Would you like a copy of my new translations of Lorca's poetry I can inscribe it. Wow, thank you Devlin. I love Lorca. Most young people do. (laughter) Watch you don't end up imitating them too much. Lorca's too easy to love. (applause) I had to cross my legs. (laughter) Wow, thank you. Jessica, do you have a question for Ms. Vanye I do. I even wrote it down, but I'm just gonna do what these other fabulous women have done. You know this comes from, Daniel and I earlier this year, went to see you in Rickard Maxwell's dystopian cowboy extravaganza called Samara, and we were blown away by the blame, the ensemble. Most of all we were blown away by you because it's a very challenging piece, and you were singing, you were doing poetry monologues. It was very physical. I means everyone was rolling around on the floor, and I'm wondering, given your long and illustrious and adventurous career in the theater as a performer, from Janay's The Blacks to the recent very playful Good Person of Szechuan, and then the Maxwell piece, what is it about these very different and very challenging works that entices you as a performer I think I find it a little difficult to answer that question directly because you are speaking about my performance in two different plays. What excites me always is the text, the word, and the beginning of the word, and once I have that excitement in a play that challenges my understanding of what it is to be a particular human being, then I become involved, and I don't know what that really answers. JESSICA: It does, it does. The text. Thank you. Beautiful segue, speaking of text, right I would ask Vining and Rhonda to read an excerpt of a play that they both were actually in in production of mine called Phoenix Fabrique. Gal Yes ma'am, yes ma'am Watch this here. No thank you, ma'am. What's that there Don't recall. Yes you do. Don't know at all. Yes you do. I'd rather get going, let morning come. What's that there, gal Fire the youth. How's that go Gonna string him first, gonna burn him last. And what between Shouts and hints. Why is that I don't recall. It looked too wild I don't recall. Is chin too high I don't recall. He took too long. Hurts my eyes. What's all that Camera flash. They make a picture. Picture the past. They're smiling so. Kick them a nigger. Good hats and dresses. They don't have a doctor, pick them a nig. Pickles and pie. They pick my Chaz. Send if to their family. Send it to their friends. Yes ma'am, yes ma'am. Wish you was here. Ella, Ella Yes ma'am What's that there That there is Chaz. Is not. Yes ma'am, it is. That burnt up meat Yes ma'am, yes ma'am. That blackened bone Yes sir, yes sir. Where's his face They picked it clean. All the men All those birds. Is that you Ella Is that me where Waking in the night Please don't hear. Climbing that tree Got to get him down. What will you see Just my hands. What, no ax My own bare hands. Your hands are stained. Where's he go We'll bury the meat. Where's he go. We'll bury the bone. His precious bones. They got his bones. What about his soul How he gonna rise His precious soul. Never you mind. I'll make him back. No such thing. Fashion his bones, conjure his blood. No gal, cast the light. Cast the light The light of the van. All answers in that night. (applause) I have a question for Mya. Shoot. Those of you who may not know Mya, Mya is one of the finest actors I've ever seen in my life, and I knew that from the first time that I met you when you were at Fordham, and it's a thing that you just know, that there's a particular gift that a person has. It doesn't mean that everyone else isn't wonderful at what they do, but there's some people that just have that extra thing. Thank you. I think of that as part of the call of the river, right We've talked a lot in the past about this question of the call and response, which is so key to our cultural tradition. What called to you What drew you to performance, and do you, at this moment in our culture and politic, feel that it is the most viable thing for you to be doing in response Well, Daniel, thank you for that question. I think what called to me was a responsibility that I didn't understand at the time. I started performing very very young on. I started out step dancing and mime dancing, and I came from a place that was disenfranchised, impoverished, and it seemed like performance was the better option, and so at the time what called to me was release, and a search for a voice, because I kept hearing around me that being from where I was from, you had to, it meant that you would end up a certain way, but something about performing and acting and dancing allowed me to find my own voice, so that's what originally called to me, and now there is nothing else I would rather be doing. There's nothing else I can, looking at the, I'm talking so long, but that question is a lot, so, (laughs) with such division and divide in our country right now, I'm sure it's always been there, but for me, I feel that so strongly now in a way that I didn't before, and it seems so stark. There's also this question of what do you do How do I help When it all seems so massive and so beyond you, and what I have is my voice, what I have is my mind and my creativity, and my curiosity. I don't have answers, and I think that's the beauty in art right now because there are a lot of answers being thrown. There are a lot of that aren't answers. They're just individual truths, so yeah, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing, and that's scary. DANIEL: May we hear a bit of your piece AC, will you read some of Mya Guaten's work Spinning and swimming and searching. I'm trying to dismantle too many years of tending towards quiet and silence, and mouth seals so deep in the way that I was brought up, donning obedience like a king's robe, squelching and choking on words I wish to say. Somehow it seems I no longer know how to speak my truth. It gets lost, it gets scorched, dissipating into a million places. I'm trying to catch it all, trying to learn with it feels like to finally breathe again. I have an earthen name, and she is Ya. Name I was given at birth, but Ya Amawakwa Waten. Ya Amawakwa Waten. Ya from Yamadan, for born on Thursday, Amawakwa for she that fights, Waten for help that goes a long way. Name only given to babies destined as Ashianti queen mothers, butchered by American blacks who, generations scarred by the door of no return, had no clue that my name brings you a little closer to home, your home, that place where they lied and told you you could never return to, so they bathed, no, brainwashed you, that drowns you in the Atlantic. Now we still afraid to swim of the water of the weight of the flow of the depth, steadily survive and try to catch our, catch our breath, until another brother screams, "I can't breathe." (applause) That went way better than I could ever do. (laughs) You all got work. (laughter) Rhonda, do you have a question for Stacy I've already asked the question. You did, that's right. But I have all kinds of questions. (laughter) Don't get me started. All right, so let's go Jessica, if you would read Helga Davis's piece. A bird smashed insides out, eyes open, turned in a woman smashed, insides out, eyes open, turned in a friend, a menace, a question, a battering dead, a mess, a wish, a bit of money neatly folded, tucked away, a bit of money neatly folded, tucked away, a bit of money neatly folded, tucked away, a limit, a lien, a member, a face remembered, a deed remembered, a window of opportunity and distraction. That way, that bitch, that over there, that time, that shit on a back of your pants, that one time, pass me that time, and I'll find time for woman, for one, one who say stepped outside today, thought I left everything I knew behind thoughtless acts, courageous ones, every chance to change my mind. On my way, so much to see, there I was, standing at the crossroads, and when I opened my eyes, I was at the water. I was at the water. I poured myself into the mouth of the water, my hopes and dreams going into the mouth of the water, cried and smiled myself to sleep, into the mouth of the water, died, came alive, into the mouth of the water, then found that I was the water, that I was the water, that I was the water, and the water was me. This was a story, a story about a woman, about a woman that begins with a man's search of water, and the water, turns out, was me, was me. This was a story about me. (applause) It's always just so interesting to hear, to hear the, it's in my head and in a completely different voice, right Different rhythm and different everything, and so to hear it back in this way, okay, you already know that, but still, there's something about the word in the mouth of the other that illuminates, reminds, and points in a direction that can be different than the one we aimed it at, so this is really a beautiful thing. Thank you so much. And thank you for what you did with my words, the two of you. I think that's the pleasure. I'm curious about music that influences you, the music, not just of the words, but the music that you listen to. When I was reading your text, all I can hear is music. It feels very much like a kind of cravat. Is it a piano solo or a horn solo (hums musical tune) What music It's interesting because as a young writer, I used music to propel me in my writing. To this day, I listen to everything. I listen to a lot of Miles in the electric period, and I listen to a lot of opera, depending on what I'm writing, and also a lot of Latin music, but as sung by women, like Concha Wekah, so that puts me in a certain frame, and the way the language flows, and then of course there's all that in song and art ensemble that was important as I was coming up as a writer and that showed me different rhythms, and dissonance the important of it, and rock and roll always, always, always, always, always. Were you all part of each other's communities also Did you know that you Yeah, I liked to collaborate with music, and I had a band when I was younger. You know, it taught me so much. I'm a self-taught writer, just from reading and listening to other writers, so the music took it to another place. But that's such a big thing because it means then that if you're a writer, you're a writer. You don't have an excuse for not writing. You can't say, "Oh, well I don't have a degree in, and I haven't gone to." If it's in you to do, yeah, it's your work to do. I agree, yes. I think it's so important that people hear that, because so often I think we think we need another kind of validation and permission to do what it is that is in us. Especially now. I think that's pushed on other people, and I used to teach and tell them, "You really don't need to be here." (laughter and applause) There is one of many wonderful things that have happened recently in the midst of all the craziness, and one wonderful thing is that Robyn McCaulie is now back in New York full time, yeah. (applause) One of the great things, can you give us a little news, maybe, about your piece coming up Yes. The fliers aren't out yet, as we said back in the day, now it's all online. I'm doing my recent work Sugar at Live Arts in February. (applause) DANIEL: We're gonna experience a little piece of that, and Mya, you'll bring it. MYA: Falling down in somebody's living room in Prague, I'm desperate for food, desperate for sugar. Sirens, sirens in foreign cities, grateful for fish sticks and soup. Sleeping only in dreams, backstage awards, horses pounding in dreams, boats and drowning musicians, my heart pumps. Breathe away full of horror, fear in God, no solution, where is love Angels call, children fall, guns everywhere, forgive me Jesus. People rush through alleyways, calling out windows, "Peace Lord, peace and salvation!" Trucks in couches and books, broken pianos move in the night. Still, I hear the trucks. They come in the night. Who's in charge I swallow hard back in America. The end of the century shifting like the end of time. In a famous working-class city no longer black with the soot that helped people pay bills, now full of unemployed people, black and white, down by the river asking me if my father had worked in the ovens in the war. I said, and poets such the outside of cafes, hoping for somebody to listen again. (applause) Robbie A question for my space twin, Helga Davis I'm gonna ask as I plot it. As an extraordinary person in this world, could you say some ways that you have gotten through as an extraordinary person in this world One of the things that I've practicing, and it really is a practice, for the last several years is saying yes, just that, to say yes, to whatever it is, to say first, "Yes." It's the biggest lesson, I think, that I've learned, is to just say yes, and then, to continue to practice community, a real community putting one's body in the line of fire, putting one's life in the places where you want to see change. For me, it's not an accident that we are around this table, not only because we know Daniel, but because yours are the eyes, the stories, the songs, the hands that I hold, that I gather with me when I sit in the morning, and I have a friend who, she has a son. When he was first born, before he would sleep at night, she would say, "Who loves you" and he would actually fall asleep, Nathan, trying to name all of the people that he knew loved him, and I do a very similar thing, especially in these times. For me, one of the hardest things to remember, sometimes, is it doesn't matter the noise and the chaos that I am loved and held by people seen and unseen, and so every morning, when I wake up, I light a candle and I sit, and I begin to name them, then I say yes, and then I say thank you, and then I go. ROBBIE: Thank you. Thank you. DANIEL: As you can tell, we all considered a question, and it was important that we didn't share that beforehand, but I would begin now to ask you to consider a question that you might want to bring to this group of people, as we continue. There will be space for your questions. Ms. Viney, I asked you to think of a question for me. (audience hoots) How does your gender affect your creative impulse, particularly as the initiator of something that is not yet developed I was just in Cairo with Keneza Shaw, and at one point I looked to her and said, "You have been one of my great teachers," even though I've only known her a short time, because she's tall, and she's long, and she has to look like this to see people, and her mind, she refuses to make it small to make anyone else comfortable, so it gets to operate at a rev that allows her to do the work in real time, and I said, "Thank you for teaching me something about being in my body again," so my answer for you has to do with, I think on some level I make work to remember what it is to be embodied, and I sometimes feel like I'm a little girl and a little boy hiding inside of a man, waiting for the woman who is the goddess to arrive, and it's a community in here, and so when a piece is gestating at the very very very very beginning, they run and tell me like (knocks on table) "Come look, come meet her," and that's Martha Dixon we read. They said, "Come look," and that's Eleanor. Julama being the biggest example of something that come from a way, and they literally change my physiology as I work. I gain weight, I lose weight. I have aches and pains. They change me, and they bring their wounds, and they demand that I engage their wounds, and then they bring their magic, and they demand that I learn the spells, and when I've done both, there's a peace, but it is absolutely, gender is big, and the work that I still have to do at 47 is to ask myself again and again when they go, and when the little girl goes to play, and the little boy goes to sleep, and the goddess has gone into the dark side of the moon, what do I do And I don't know yet. Thank you Thank you. Mya Yes. Do you have a question for Rhonda Suzanna Anna Rawlson I do. Love that you know my middle name. Suzanne, that's my mom's name. Is it Yeah. So Rhonda, okay, so I've been pondering the words success and failure so strongly, I've been out of school two minutes, and I'm like I'm failing at everything, so I want to know from you, you're a person whose artistry, person, and career, I highly admire, and it looks like success to me. I've often heard that you don't, no one actually fails at anything, right, that you just don't produce the intended result. You're just putting an opinion onto the thing, and that it's just an illusion, so I wonder from you, do you agree with that How do you handle failure How do you see success If failure is an illusion, is success also an illusion Just how do you view those things Okay. I think that one can fail if their definition of success is finite. If I need to get into that college to be successful, then I could fail, but I don't tend to think of it like that, so to answer your question, I don't know that I have, (laughs) my version of success, and I do feel successful, but it's a practice. It's a daily deepening, and Stacy mentioned it in her answer to me. It's a daily moment we, releasing of me to let my ancestors and that spirit flow through me, and a momently ability to mine and go deeper and engage the roles and engage the magic, and be as big as I'm afraid to be, and those kinds of things, but it's a moment to moment thing, and I can, I can almost touch it now and miss it the next minute, and almost get it again, but that practice, imagery of a river just came to me, that river, it's not finite, like if I get there, I've made it. It's a moment to moment trying and hitting and missing and trying again, and asking a different question, and looking at it upside down. So I feel successful when I practice that, when I practice that as an artist, when I practice that as a mother, when I practice that as a friend and as a daughter, and sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't, and then I have to try it again and tweak it, you know Because of that, I don't have a big issue about age, like I don't have a big like, "I'm 46, I was supposed to have done X, Y, and Z," because it's that moment to moment thing, and it makes me want to wake up in the morning and try again. That's what I got. One other tiny thought came about gender that I feel is actually connected to this idea of not being finite, and Taneesha Christie is here, another extraordinary performance artist, and we shared another mentor, Rebecca Rice, and I wanted this again called our missing Laurie Carlos, call her name, and thinking about if you have, everyone got one of the fliers, and in the inside, there's this map of, when I asked everyone about their influences, and their people, and so this is a tiny portion of that, and we hope you'll add to this, right Take this home and add to this, but that we're connected in a very particular way, but some of the most extraordinary teachings happen because of the odd ways that we come together and the odd ways that we relate with one another, and I'm working on a book that's kind of what we're talking about, and one of the things I remember is how often Rebecca, Cathy Garnyon, there were a number of people who were mentors to me, would be talking, and they would be like, "Girl" and it wasn't a slip. I knew they saw me as their little sister, as much as they saw me as a little brother, and I knew they were indoctrinating me into this work with some of that in their spirit, right, and so the question then becomes if we see one another and we see things in one another that are incongruous, but loud to us, maybe it's a really good thing to cultivate that, right We're gonna do one thing, and then we're gonna come to you. Rhonda, will you lead us I will lead you. I love what you said, Helga, about no matter what's going on around the craziness that you can know you're loved and you're held, and a lot of what I write about in my songs is that feeling of I have the ability to feel loved or I have the ability to control my whole personal freedom, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, no matter what, and so the song that I wrote is of that, and I will give you the beat. (hums soulful music) Ain't nobody's job to make you happy, Nobody's job to pull you through. Ain't nobody want to give you sunshine, That light's inside of you. Ain't nobody gonna seek your freedom, Your heart will lead you through. You're the one to choose how you feel, And nobody's business that you do. When I was a little girl, I waited for my prince to come. Who came come on the morning rain. Morning. I wanted him to bring the sun. I wanted to make my life all that I was dreamed of. Give me peace. Give me hope. Make me smile. And fill my heart with love. As time flew. The thought grew deep inside my head of still songs. A simple choice. This is what I sang. Ain't nobody's job to make you happy, Nobody's job to pull you through. Ain't nobody want to give you sunshine. That light's inside of you. Ain't nobody gonna seek your freedom. Your heart will lead you through. You're the one to choose how you feel, And nobody's business if you do. Nobody's business if I do. It's nobody's business what I do. Stand upon my own two feet. Nobody said the road would be easy. It's harder than I thought it would be. Now that I can dance, I'm dancing to my every beat. This joy, this hope, this peace. I have, the world will give it to me. World didn't give it to me. As time flew. A thought grew. Deep inside my hair. A still small voice. This is what they said. Ain't nobody's job to make you happy. Nobody's job to pull you through. Ain't nobody want to give you sunshine. That light's inside of you. Ain't nobody gonna seek your freedom. Your heart will lead you through. You're the one to choose how you feel, And nobody's business if you do. Ain't nobody's business if I do. Ain't nobody's business if I do. Nobody's business if I do. But if you try. The power is inside of you. If you can command it. Then nothing can stand in your way. If I do. Ain't nobody's job to make you happy. Nobody's job to pull you through. Ain't nobody gonna give you sunshine. That light's inside of you. Ain't nobody gonna seek your freedom. Your heart will lead you through. You're the one to choose how you feel, And nobody's business if you do. Ain't nobody's business if I do. If I do. Ain't nobody's business. Ain't nobody's business if I do. Nobody's business. (applause) Before this extraordinary group, do you have any questions, any comments, any things that you would like to offer or things you'd like to receive Can we do what we said what do we need, and what did you say earlier My needs are vast. (laughter) DANIEL: Any questions I'm gonna give the mic just because we're live streaming. AUDIENCE: Hi, thank you you all so much for sharing and having this conversation, it's amazing. I have to figure out my question. I'm not really sure. Daniel, you asked Mya about a calling, and then I think Robbie, you talked about for it to be free, you had to let go of this need to be better, and then Mya, you talked about responsibilities, so I guess my question is how can you tell the difference between a true calling and a false sense of needing to be better and do better, and part of me, what's inspiring this question is because I'm an artist, I'm an actress. I teach, and right now I'm teaching in a juvenile detention center, and so I go over there, and I inspire these girls, and I can teach them to find their artistic voice, but then afterwards you're still in jail. You shouldn't be here, so what am I doing about that My question is how do you guess between a true calling, and a false sense of meaning or needing to do better All I can say is that if you're called, you feel it, you know it, and you can feel yourself mocking it, and you can keep teaching that as well. People know no matter where they are, can call out. Things happen inside prisons and so forth, and the theater that originated inside. These are hard ladies to do, but the call is something that pulls one, and you can feel yourself blocking it, and so you need to keep taking the chains off. AUDIENCE: Thank you. DANIEL: Other questions Let me bring the mic to you. AUDIENCE: Hi. I'm curious in today's world, like today, if your individual performance art or art making, your creative practice, what role you think that live performance or you individually have in correcting today That's a tough word, correcting. Sure is. Is that what you want to use in your question AUDIENCE: Maybe that's too individual to me, but I guess in whatever way you think art can, should, be pushing us forward socially, politically, in our narratives and the way we see people, how is that manifesting that for you today if at all Well, for me, I think each artist would have a different, maybe not, answer, but it would be interesting to hear from everyone, and I don't know if I'm hearing your question right, but I think when I write, you know, the artists I know and love and respect, do the work, because as Robbie says, it's calling you, and it's the way you engage with the world, and whether that changes anything, I don't know. All I know is I write a scene that feels true to me, that there is a truth in the fiction I create. There is some kind of maybe you're striving for some kind of honesty that is like a mirror that you hold up to the world, and whoever's ready to receive it will receive it. Now I don't know if Donald Trump gives a shit, because he's a moron, and he does not respond to this stuff, so I really feel powerless to change that terror we live with, okay I can only do what I can do, and I think that oftentimes, all we can hope for is we might surprise someone, who's not one of the converted, maybe someone who accidentally walked into the nightclub or theater or the performing space, or the Nick Cave installation and happened upon Helga handing out a gun as part of her performance, and you see that metaphor of this beautiful art, and this beautiful woman offering a gun. It's a poem to me. It's not the answer that gonna change all this brutality and chaos and terror, because I think that's the world. That's human, you know We're terrible to each other, but I think some of us artists were interested in holding up that mirror and just maybe people look at what's in that mirror and say, "Ah, I understand a little bit about what I do, or what my fellow human beings do." It's a kind of way of achieving some kind of embrace of even the terror. I don't know if I'm answering your question, but I don't strive to, I don't feel that I have that kind of power. We have the power to hold the mirror up. I want to. I think I started out wanting to change the world. You did. Well, I've found that, like Jessica, one does the work, and hopefully it affects people, and because you want to change the world, that's part of your voice. If I can chime in, most of the songs that I write help me to untangle whatever is is I'm in, and usually what I, at least, I was gonna say recently, but for some time, I've been untangling my feelings of powerlessness because I can't change a shooter on the 32nd floor. I have no absolutely no power over that. I cannot change Trump or any of that. I cannot change Puerto Rico. I can't change any of that right now, but I do have power. I have power over something. It's over myself, but it's over how I see it or how I view it or how I align with it or don't align with it or how I speak about it or how I, do I digest it Do I not digest it There's a power in that, and most of my songs are kind of looking at where do I have power I'm raising a boy. I have power in that. I have relationships, and there's power in that. This is powerful, what you've done tonight, so I'm looking always for where do I have power, and how can I then use that as hopefully a force for at least my opinion of good outside of myself. Just to add to that, I think, don't be fooled by this idea of saying yes, that it's some kind of feel good, embrace everybody and everything kind of thing. It is not that. It is also about expanding our ability to hold complexity. That's what saying yes is for me, so that I can take a porcelain gun in the middle of a performance and point it at someone while I'm in a gown singing an aria. It's saying yes to many many many many things, including acknowledging that I have a killer in me, right, and then unless that killer is allowed to speak, to cry, to mourn, then no one will sleep, because she's in me, so it is also about saying yes to the things in ourselves, in the way that we hurt, that we enjoy hurting, because there is that too, and remembering that I'm not interested in changing anyone, because I don't want you to try to change me. I am clear about that. What I can do to be closer to you, and what I hope you would do in order to be closer to me is to expand your idea of what it is to be close to me, and what you are willing to tolerate from me in order to see me, and if we're not doing that, we're not really talking about anything, or we are only talking. We're going to wrap, and in conclusion, and in response to your question as well, I think it must have been about seven years ago, Ronnie, and I saw you. As I often do, I will pass you on the street randomly, not randomly, and you came up to me, and I remember this. You grabbed me by my wrist, and you said, "Life is motion, life is motion, life is motion," and then you moved on. (laughter) And that's how I remember this conversation going. We wrote a song about it. It's called This Favorite Song, and we sing in the show, but I think that idea and this idea of the river that we started with, that one of the things that the mechanism that the moment we're in comes out of depends upon is paralysis, and so motion is the means to a process that may lead you to the questions that you need, but you gotta move, and I want to thank all of you for moving us so deeply today, and back at the beginning again, right on time, there she is, for moving us, and thank you, thank you, thank you to Prelude and to Android and to everyone for inviting us here. What an honor to be with you, and we're gonna clear for the next performance, but I'm sure we can gather in the lobby if you want to have remarks with folks. Thank you. (applause)