"I can say whatever I want, however I want to say it, in my cultural language,” Nicole Antonette, 30, of Porter, said through a glowing smile.
As our 5-year-olds played together in the Westbrook Community Center pool, she and I talked about her role in The Theater Ensemble of Color (TEoC).
"It's important to be able to share our story without wondering whether it will be received well,” she said.
I nodded my head in agreement, fully relating to the double consciousness people of color often have. I can’t just express an idea, I also have to simultaneously consider the potential impact on the audience and the surrounding environment. The highly influential writer, sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois described it as "always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others."
"What do you think wouldn’t be received well?” I asked her.
Without missing a beat she responded, "Urban culture, slang, hip-hop. Ebonics. It's misunderstood because people have no idea about that culture here."
Prior to my chat with Nicole, I had spoken with TEoC’s Producing Artistic Director Rene Johnson, 31, of Portland. She described how when the group first took form and held auditions, every potential member expressed a variation of the feeling that they “needed this” outlet.
“It was phenomenal,” she recalled.
It’s almost been a year since then. I remember attending their first showcase and feeling such excitement that this group even exists in Maine. I thought of bringing my daughter to a performance so that she could see herself reflected; so that she could know that people who look like her can perform on a stage. She’s told me recently that she would like to sing and dance, but she feels a little shy.
There are presently seven members in the group. The youngest member is Delany Tucker, Nicole's daughter. Delaney expressed interest in joining the group from the very beginning. She wrote and directed an original work titled, "The Baby One.” It tells the tale of a mother and her baby in the grocery store. Baby keeps pulling items off of the shelves. Mother has to repeatedly look for people to clean up the messes her baby makes. Finally, they just go home and Mother sings the baby to sleep after some fussing. Since then, Delaney has written and practiced six more skits.
Now, our daughters splash around in the pool. Delaney swims around with ease and inspires mine to attempt swimming with her face in the water for the first time. When she comes up for air, her grin is triumphant.
“Did you see me, Mama?"
I smile and wonder what Delaney's performances will inspire in her. I imagine her whole face will light up and a dream will spark. That spark? That’s the wonder and power of representation in theater.
Theatre Ensemble of Color is holding auditions! Upcoming projects include Shakespeare’s Othello and fundraising events.
Auditions will be held , at
Mayo Street Arts, 10 Mayo St., Portland
Wanted: members and affiliates
- Ensemble members are required to be at every meeting, hold an administrative position, and perform in every show.
- Affiliates are expected to attend 2 meetings per month, 2 events per month, and perform in 1 show per year.
Each person has up to 10 minutes to demonstrate their capabilities as an artist and perform their particular expression. Last year, out of 31 people auditioning, 28 did original work: monologues, dancing, short stories, improv, clowning, singing, and acrobatics.
There are up to five positions available. This is an opening casting call for all ages, sizes, races, etc. No restrictions. However, there is a particular need for males. Looking for artists willing to challenge themselves and do the hard work required to build an emotionally safe space for creativity to thrive.
Last modified onWednesday, 31 August 2016 11:31