Imagining New Suns: Part I by Amara Brady
Updated: Sep 18
During quarantine I have fixated on many things, but a primary focus has been Octavia Butler’s quote, “There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.” As we look towards the future of our industry I want us to do the work of imagining new suns. I hope this can be a tool that helps each of us start to imagine what our new world could look like.
The last time I was in a theatre was March 12th. I walked in the rain part of the way from my home in Flatbush to The Buschwick Starr, for what turned into the closing night performance of my first show as an Associate Producer on Jillian Walker’s SKiNFoLK. During the rainy walk, I reflected…
What was the night initially supposed to be?
A night for Black women and femmes to see the show and discuss in community and understanding.
I reflected on the process...
What would I have changed on my end?
Would I have done it again - made my debut as an associate producer - knowing what I know now?
Months later, I can say that I would have made the same decision.
To clarify, before SKiNFoLK I never really identified as a producer. I produced my own work, sure, but that’s because no one was giving me space so I had to create my own; or because the groups that gave me the space couldn’t afford to pay the people we were working with, which never sits well with me. Still, I never formally produced anyone else’s work. I am an actor and a writer after all, not a producer. (I say fully acknowledging that I have comparable skills because most of my day jobs have been assisting producers, but I digress…) I actually auditioned for this show, by the by, and I obviously was not cast; but when the team asked me to work on SKiNFoLK, I said yes because the show was important, not because I needed the credit or because the fee was so astounding that I had to. I did it because I believe(d) in the show. The biggest thing I had to overcome was my ego. She was wounded from feeling rejected for not being cast and couldn’t imagine working on the show in another capacity. While I respect and acknowledge the emotion, I cannot let ego stop good work when there is good work to be done.
Surmounting our egos - that is primarily what I want to talk with you about in this series. Had I let my ego get in the way then, I would have missed out on a great opportunity to support the community and the work that I claim to love.
When we come out on the other side of this into the new world, it is vital that we will have done, at the very least, some theorizing on how we’re going to be better individually in a way that will help our goal collectively.
Collectivism is defined as the practice or principle of giving a group priority over each individual in it. Collectivism is the basic premise of what I’m proposing. I’m well aware of the downfalls of this definition, so to make it more specific I’ve adjusted our definition: Collectivism 2.0 is defined as seeing self as a part of community. No one is greater than the whole, but each person does matter. I’m going to theorize about what a theatre community under the purview of collectivism could look like. In some ways we’re already doing it, but in other ways, we are failing ourselves, and by proxy, our community.
When theatre returns, or more likely recreates itself, how will we be different? How will we be more like the people we want to see in the industry? Now is the perfect moment to dream it up because we have nothing but time. In the coming articles I’ll talk about what I think collectivism can look like from the perspective of the actor, writer, and producer. In the meantime, if you’re interested in this work, get really specific on the why of your work. Who are you creating for? This is a practice I learned through Jen Waldman’s Studio. I maintain this practice by always reconnecting with my why. Here are some Black women who have been guiding me and forcing me to reconnect:
This quote by Toni Cade Bambara- “The task of the artist is determined always by the status and process and agenda of the community that it already serves. If you’re an artist who identifies with, who springs from, who is serviced by or drafted by a bourgeois capitalist class then that’s the kind of writing you do. Then your job is to maintain status quo, to celebrate exploitation or to guise it in some lovely, romantic way. That’s your job… As a cultural worker who belongs to an oppressed people my job is to make revolution irresistible.”
adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism
This quote by Octavia Butler- “There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns.”
bell hooks’ All About Love
Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
Amara (She/Her/Hers) is a generative artist & cultural dramaturg from Chicago. At the crux of her artistry is uplifting Black women and connecting underserved communities to theatrical experiences. She’s currently in Residence with Experimental Bitch Presents and The Parsnip Ship and created her own production company (Un)Solicited Productions. As an actor she’s been on stage at The Lark, Joe’s Pub, Barrington Stage Co., NYTW, 54 Below, & others. She’s a member of Joe Iconis’ & family As a writer she has been been a semi-finalist for Space on Ryder Farm, an inaugural member of the Showdogs playwriting collective, The Parsnip Ship’s Radio Roots Writers Group, and a member of SHECreates NYC’s Myths and Legends program. Her work has been staged at The Drama League, The Dramatists Guild, Joe’s Pub, and The Wow Cafe Theatre. As a producer she helped put on Theatre Communications Groups National Conference (2019) and was the Associate Producer of the NYT’s Critic Pick, SKiNFoLK by Jillian Walker. Check out her YouTube Series, ‘Skinny & White’ Aren’t Character Traits. In This Paper I’ll Explain. She wants to remind you to resist, check your privilege, & then give some space to Women of Color & Trans Folx. Ashé to the ancestors. All Power to all people.