Q: Very briefly, what inspired The White Dress?
R: I’ve been gender policed my whole life - because of my tenor and pallor of voice, because of my body language, just because I didn’t fit the traditional binary mold of gender identity. I’ve been made to feel that who I am is abnormal and wrong. And that’s simply not the case. So I decided to write about it. I knew I needed to let people like me know that we are beautiful just the way we are.
Q: Your play deals with themes including racism the LGBT community, gender identity, homophobia, interracial families, religion, etc. Was it always your intention to address these themes in your in the play and how they intersect with people of color/marginalized groups? Or did these intersections unfold during the writing process?
R: When writing the piece, I didn’t necessarily identify or assign themes I wanted to address. I knew who the characters were that I wanted to be in the world of the play. I knew what they wanted or needed. And I had a strong idea of how they would get there. Then, I just let them speak. The play is what they wanted to say. It’s their truth. And if they touched on certain salient themes, amen and hallelu!
Q: Why is it important for you to tell this story in the current political climate of the U.S.?
R: We have to be visible. The socio-political climate now is motivated to erase and disenfranchise those outside of a particular vision of this country. So we counter-balance those impulses by simply being here. Our presence alone is power. It shows that we won’t be moved or silenced or rendered invisible. We will ride out this storm like we have ridden out others and, in the end, we will STILL be here. Stories like THE WHITE DRESS memorialize our current civic insistence.
Q: What can audiences expect from the New York City production that might have been different from the Los Angeles production?
A: Well, in Los Angeles, we did a staged reading of the piece. It was minimally staged behind music stands and it was lights up, lights down. Here in NYC, we are giving a muscular staging of the play with set, costumes, lighting, and sound. Because much of the storytelling is told through dance and movement work (alongside traditional modalities like scene work and soliloquy), it will give a full, breathing vision of how this story is meant to be told. Expect some FABULOUS dances, some new scenes from me, and even a new ending.
Q: Can you tell us about your other upcoming projects that you are working on that we can look forward to in the near future?
A: You know I stay hustling! I’m working on a web series about gentrification with one of my heroes Boni B. Alvarez, directed by my newfound friend Leland Montgomery. Ten years later, I’m revisiting my first full length play Orange Woman with my dear friend and ever-inspiring collaborator Lovell Holder. I’m collaborating with the lovely Michael Alvarez on an adaptation of an Oscar Wilde play. And I’ve got a queer-themed period short film in pre-production, directed by Lovell. So, yes, I’m busy. (And I didn’t even tell y’all about the musicals - that’s for another interview, really).
The White Dress runs through Sunday November 5, 2017. For more info and to purchase tickets click here. Use the discount FLOUNCE for $12 tixs.