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The BC Arts Council has awarded me a hearty grant to embark on 12 months of creative research, exploration, and development of a new play that will explore the question:
What is it like to be Black and Rural?
This project is borne out of many things. Yes, as you can imagine it comes in part from our current social and political climate. To be black and to have any vestige of a heart at this time is to be driven to your knees with arms outstretched yearning for answers, for meaning, for Home.
But mostly, this question that seeks to penetrate the lives and the stories of rural Blacks in Canada comes from my own lived experience of Lonely Blackhood. I live as an extreme minority in my little town. Extreme meaning, I can count on my fingers the number of souls around who look like me. As an artist, storyteller, and a hopeless feeler, I am hungry to seek out those who bare my same burden and to hear how they live and move through their experience.
Through this year of research and development, I want to at once, seek to bridge the gaps of loneliness I feel by tangibly reaching out to these black souls scattered across the Canadian countryside, but I also want to use this year to dive in to African and African Diasporic folklore. Yes, it is my intention to seek out stories of the Beginnings of Things, the Why of What is, the How of Where We Are.
It is my vision to weave together the stories of belonging (or lack thereof) and connection to land and place (or lack thereof) of Rural Blacks in Canada to this Afro-Lore. Should I get my way, it will culminate in a resonant, dynamic, full-bodied play, that I can then bring to life on Stage for audiences across the country and beyond. It will be my way to give voice to Blacks like me who are not plugged in to the fervor of activity in the City.
I am grateful, oh so deeply grateful that this endeavor of mine has been validated and supported through the significant financial of the British Columbia Arts Council. Though my knees quake at the task before, my gratitude and sense of responsibility will propel me forward.
May something beautiful come forth. May I move out of the way, so that That Which Should Be Created may come to be.