Amanda and I met on the first day of Grade 9 Drama class at St. Elizabeth Catholic High School in Thornhill. We sat across from one another in the introductory circle. During high school drama class, we played opposite of one another in scene studies of Lysistrata, Private Lives, and in productions like Tony and Tina’s Wedding, and Guys and Dolls. We became best friends, and danced Prom King-ish and Prom Queen-ish at our highschool prom.
Amanda and I both grew up in a Catholic and Italian-Canadian world. We were both religious as kids: she was an alter-person, and I dreamed of being a priest when I was seven years old. That changed for both of us quickly. And, for many reasons, both Amanda and I felt like outsiders in our respective communities. This is partly where “madonnanera” comes from: the Black Madonna, a Catholic icon, and in Italy, the patron saint of queers and outsiders.
When we met in Fall of 2015 in my parents basement to begin a creation process for BODY SO FLUORESCENT, we were both entering into a very new relationship. Yes we performed together, we partied together, we cried together: but we had never created together before. I remember us making a list of what we wanted the process to be like, what we didn’t want the process to be like, our hopes, and our fears.
Fast forward to last night: five years later, global pandemic, the American elections never end. We meet on Zoom, a platform neither of us knew about until this year. We have an opportunity to talk about the piece again. Each time we have this opportunity, we step into so many wells. The conversation last night covered the more sinister moments of the play. We talked about blackface, did a bit of research on minstrelsy, spoke about the cake-walk, camp, drag race, and the appropriation of language and turns of phrases in white hetero pop culture. We talked about floating heads: in the play, there is a moment where a tight-spot appears on Amanda’s face as her character is having an anxiety attack in the club. Is there an opportunity to use projections to summon some of the more sinister ghosts in the play? Floating heads appearing? (We’re still coming down from Halloween, and a Zoom horror movie is definitely in production right now).
This time to talk is vital. We’ve spent four years slapping this piece together-- a really useful exercise in getting something on its feet, making decisions, and “do now, think later.” But to have time to walk through some of the doors in the play, and explore the room in more detail allows us to share a deeper and more visceral production when we’re ready to come together again. We agree to come to next week’s meeting with more research on the topics listed above.
We also decide to create a Pinterest board, and each week for the rest of our residency, we will both be doing some image research around the world of Lights, Set, and Costume. By the time theatres are open again, our hope is that we’re ready to go with robust dramaturgical research as well as image research for designers. We also expect to have a more intimate relationship with the complex relationships between characters in our piece. We look forward to sharing these images within this blog, and bring you into our journey.