CALL FOR PERFORMERS
Casting Delinquent was difficult. I had a clear vision but I doubted my ability to manifest. I find it always awkward to intentionally seek out non-white collaborators, especially when I am intentionally seeking young artists from diverse cultural identities and contexts, and most especially when it is to participate in a process directed, and in many ways defined and controlled, by me, a middle aged white dude.
I met Meghan in a bar presenting a queer cabaret. She had been a student of Jess Curtis at UC Berkeley and was aware of my project but had missed the deadline to apply. Seeing that she wasn’t white and assuming that she was queer or at least Bay Area queer (meaning hip to the issues, aesthetics and oppressions), I immediately welcomed her to send me to apply. In one of our first email exchanges she confronted me with a question about the ethics and problematics of inviting marginalized youth of color to be the material for my art.
“I think your topic of inquiry now is interesting and I, myself, am curious of a few things. I am wondering what your own interest in the juvenile justice system is? It seems as though you're calling out to youth of marginalized groups, youth of color, and desire diverse bodies and voices. Creating a diverse cast is definitely important when taking on projects, and I'd love to know what brought you to this theme. I guess I should just say that in the past couple of years I've gotten myself involved in projects where I felt there was this subtle occurrence of a privileged choreographer or director putting this "other" body, culture, voice, etc. onstage without much reflection on why, the power involved in that interaction, and/or the multiple ways cultural appropriation can occur. I don't mean to sound accusatory, I am very interested in your project and don't know anything about you- I just want to put that out on the line right away and open a dialogue because of recent performance experiences and my own sensitivity to such occurrences.”
I can’t find my response so I’ve emailed Meghan to see if she archived it. What I remember is that I was both nervous and relieved to have my own concerns externalized, made visible, and even better brought into discourse. I felt a need to defend myself, which often brings out my clearest articulation. I also knew that I had already provoked one of the key issues I wanted to address: how do we make art on urgent political issues with a sensitivity to white and male supremacist tendencies and colonial assumptions endemic to the liberal do-gooder, and yet not be paralyzed by political correctness (especially within an art world that is deeply embedded in these systems)?
Following is the call for performers that I distributed by email to everyone I knew in the Bay Area working with young artists in high schools, universities, and social services, in addition to SF Circus Center, Youth Speaks, Destiny Arts, H.O.M.E.Y., The Beat Within and various dance networks. Although, I was attentive to sending it to more people of color than to white people, the majority of respondents were white. I accepted most performers from what they wrote to me, without any direct experience of their artistic talent.
CALL FOR PERFORMERS
Director Keith Hennessy (Circo Zero) seeks a diverse cast of seven Bay Area youth and young adults for DELINQUENT, an interdisciplinary and collaborative performance project. DELINQUENT uses the juvenile justice system as a starting point for inquiry and expression about society’s influence on the body, voice, community. Artists in all disciplines are encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to artists who have had personal experience with police, courts, juvenile hall, gang injunctions, curfews.
For further info and to apply: