Saturday, June 12, 2010

support black women artists

This is a guest post by RVCBard, a Black woman and HBCU graduate too close to thirtysomething for her own comfort. Playwright, web marketing strategist, and sometime film and theater reviewer, RVCBard identifies as a lot of things: queer, Black, Jewish, woman, and more. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, she now lives in Brooklyn.

Starting in October of last year, I've been putting together Tulpa, or Anne & Me, my second full-length play.

It started as something of a lark. Frustrated with discussions about race going in predictable directions (definitely including much of what gets said here at SWPD) and still not feeling heard or understood, I dug into my passion for theatre to create examples of how those conversations should go. Since then, expanded into a series of vignettes and then the first (and second and third -- now fourth) draft of a play. Even the very rough drafts of Tulpa, or Anne & Me have received some encouraging feedback, which motivated me to stick with it even through my own insecurities and apprehensions about putting it on stage.

The writing of Tulpa, or Anne&Me led to forming Crossroads Theatre Project. Crossroads is my answer to Dead White Guy theatre and Chitlin Circuit plays. Basically, Crossroads Theatre Project empowers Black playwrights by giving us a more central role in the development of our own work. None of that submitting our scripts to contests, festivals, artistic directors, and so on and hoping that someone will find us worthy to put on stage. We're geared more toward seeking collaborators who understand our works and want to put them on their feet. We're not asking if people want to do our work. We're saying, "We're doing this. Are you coming with us?"

For now, Tulpa, or Anne & Me is the play in the hot seat. Tulpa, or Anne & Me is a full-length, quasi-autobiographical play that confronts the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality through pop culture, womanism, and Tibetan mysticism.

What would you do if Anne Hathaway crawled out of your TV? What would you talk about? If the conversation turned to race, what would you say? How would you reach across America's thorny racial history to connect with each other as human beings?

Raw, intimate, and unapologetic, "Tulpa, or Anne & Me" begins the conversation about race that Black women and White women have never been allowed to have. Until now.

So far, Tulpa, or Anne&Me has had a cold reading at The Cell Theatre (as part of the Blackboard Play Reading Series), an improv staged reading at WOW Cafe Theatre, and is currently working with Cinder Block Theatre Company for a staged reading. Of course, I'd love to see how far this project can go, but my goal is a 2 or 3 week run of a full production here in NYC (although if there are some folks in other cities who want to put this piece on after that initial production, shoot me an email: rvcbard[at]gmail[dot]com).

So if you're wondering how to fight racism, seeking reassurance that you're not racist, struggling to find a place in social justice efforts, or going through stages of anti-racism awareness, you could do a lot worse than supporting Crossroads Theatre Project. Unfortunately, you won't be able perpetuate the idea that LGBTQ means White, forget that Black women are more than just strong, or touch Black women's hair (although Anne does that -- so if you're in NYC on June 23 at 8PM, you can experience it vicariously!). At the very least, you can donate money and know where it goes.

Donate now!


  1. interesting. the word 'tulpa' in tibetan means something like 'thought-created being'. it's like a very vivid meditation visualization; indeed, SO vivid that Tulpas created by powerful, accomplished yogis/yoginis can take on an externalized kind of pseudo-life of their own and even(so it is said)be seen by others.

  2. Cool, wish I lived in NYC. Let me know when it hits youtube.

  3. thumbs up RVCBard....
    thumbs UP!

  4. Not going to be in NY, and no free money at the moment, but I've read some of the stuff on your LJ, and I hope it goes well because it looks like a great play.

  5. This sounds really awesome. These days I'm spending my time on a different coast, but as a former NYer I'll definitely rec this to friends still in the metro area.

    Here's to you and to a kick ass opening night!

  6. I will miss your play by one day! I'm in NYC June 24 or 25 through the 28th. You wouldn't happen to have any other readings/discussions during this time, would you? Are you willing to sell the script?

  7. @TLS:

    At this time, no copies of the script are for sale, but depending on what happens, I may be able to provide video or something.


    (Every little bit helps - even just $10. All you have to do is click the logo.)

  8. Sigh, everything really does happen in NY.

    I will send you some support. I look forward to seeing this someday!!!

  9. @TLS (and everyone else):

    Actually, the script is available as part of the donation structure. I talk more about that (with details for the budget) at my blog. You know, so you'll know what your money is going toward.

  10. I just contributed, and hopefully lots of other people did too. Good luck with the production! Here's hoping it's successful enough to go on the road and come to Boston...

  11. @Jon R:

    Thanks! BTW, could you e-mail me your contact info so I can send you an autographed copy of the current script?


  12. I don't have any money to donate (though I'd love to), but I saw this: "Design and/or build our website."

    I could design a website if you're interested. I have a website and I like designing sites and coding stuff, so I'd be cool with it. :)

    I've read "Anne & Me" before and I must say I really love it. The characters are all so engaging and it's also funny. Good luck with your project!

  13. @Holly:

    Send me an e-mail and let's talk.

  14. I am also writing a script on this subject; mine focuses on the culpability of whites who see themselves as non-racist. I wish you every success with your play.

  15. @RVCBard

    I just made a donation, I hope you hit your goals! I'm a long-time lurker on SWPD but I've read parts of your script on your LJ, and I'm excited that you're taking this next step with it. Good luck!

  16. @Kelebe:

    Thank you so much!


    Thanks so much for your contributions. They really help. Just so you know - I am serious about sending autographed copies of the script for donating at least $50 (USD).

    So far I've sent out 3 scripts, but at this rate I might have to buy stock in stamps or FedEx Kinko's or something.

  17. Update: So the staged reading came and went. According to everyone but me*, it went great.

    Right now I'm gearing up for a workshop production. The support I got so far will help a great deal with that.

    Thanks so much.

    (*Just FYI - I'm the worst person to ask about these things because I invariably believe that I suck.)

  18. Update: Another staged reading is slated for November 12 here in NYC (time and venue TBA).

    I've done some major revisions with the script and posted them to my LiveJournal. And I've started a new blog, Ars Marginal, that's a no-holds-barred examination arts and entertainment from a marginalized POV. Feel free to join the open discussion there. I've got some questions for the readers, and I'm sure you have questions for me. Why don't you join in?


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