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.