CONSTANCE CASTILLO, 17, poet-activist
And then nearly two years later, Constance, now an undergrad at Columbia and curating an exhibit at The Luggage Store for artists under 21, raised in the Bay Area, wrote this letter.
I arrived at Delinquent in a state of dissonance. I had so many contradictions living inside me, and they defined my identity as an artist and a person in society. Through the making of Delinquent, I overcame the limitations of the opposing distinctions in my self. Listening to you speak about theatre, your approach to creation, and the way you let Delinquent live and breathe inside dissonance inspired me to understand myself in a greater way.
One day in rehearsal, you introduced us to the idea of life in the borderland, the safe space between divisions. I remember this idea weighing strong in my heart, as I was introduced to an ideological safe haven. This idea of a place to rest in cognitive dissonance helped me embrace and accept the different sides of myself. I grew up in the border between English and Spanish, Latin America and the United States. I was raised in the space between a history of struggle, and the strength to overcome. Throughout my life I had never been able to define myself as one thing, American or Latina, poet or artist. This inability to be held by a categorization made me anxious, I felt that I was constantly confronted by my contradictions, constantly being faced with an urgency to choose. I had always felt I would need to decide, between activism and art, memory of the past and accepting the present, being fully Latina or fully American. You helped me realize I could stand in the borderland, refusing dichotomy to make me a contradiction. It is in the blurry lines that I have found who I am.
Delinquent showed me that something powerful happens when different arts come together. The amalgamation of genres and styles that met to create Delinquent showed me I do not have to fill one place as an artist, and that performances do not have to fill one genre. The show lived in the place between arts and activism, not fulfilling expectations for either purpose and instead being something greater and more powerful in the discord of boundaries. Creating the show taught me that really art does can have a social impact. I had never before believed that I could pursue art and activism concurrently, I always believed I would have to someday choose between my passion for art and my compassion for social maladies. Delinquent made me understand that these passions can be stronger when they cross paths; that I could find a home in the place where mediums blend. Finding a bridge between art and activism, from urgent realities to beautiful fictions.
I now realize that it is the dissonance of chords that forms harmonies, and it is the vast amount of life that I stretch my arms to grasp that makes my fingers sing. Today I tap notes on a piano of grey keys.