This past month has been a whirlwind of theatre and workshops and panels. There have been weeks of little sleep and crazy schedules. Days of family members asking if they would be seeing me at all. But as I sit here tonight, watching one last Women’s Theatre Festival panel, there’s a certain sadness that it’s over. The hope, the goal, is that all of the wonderful things we experienced in the last month carries over. But it is a work in progress, and I think we all know it won’t happen immediately. Meanwhile, we go back to our other productions. We carry the goal with us. We hope that we see changes, both little and big.
For myself – I’ll hope the strong women and allies I worked with in Decision Height continue reaching for their goals. Two of them graduate college this year, two of them are just starting. Bright young women on the verge of something grand – all hope and unclouded joy at this creature we call the stage. I hope that the work we’ve done opens a door a little wider for each of them as they venture forth. Three of the technicians are still in high school. Two young men, one young women – ALL wonderful and inquisitive, with a drive to learn and share all they can. We gave them the chance to share those skills, to hone them...to see how it works in a production with mostly women. That it’s really no different. That it runs just as smoothly. That there’s no reason for the gender inequality.
I’ll hope I can carry a bit of the confidence being in a shop with only women gave me. I learned so much more than I taught in the Scenic Design workshop I helped present. I confronted fears I didn’t realize I was feeling. So much camaraderie and empowerment came from that room. Suddenly, I wasn’t fearing that I’m not good enough to play with the boys. There was no deep breath, no little voice saying they’ll figure out I’m not really good at this. No apologizing for my abilities or lack there of. Sadly, it’s not a so much a fear inspired by anyone I’ve worked with – it’s a societal fear. It’s somehow ingrained. But in that scene shop, with other women, all those unvoiced fears slipped away. It was just support and humor and laughter. Mistakes were made, advice was given. I walked out of there feeling strong. I could take on the world.
I wish I could bottle the essence of this festival – all the moments when you could feel the strength in the room; all the a-ha moments; the moments where your mind expanded just a little bit and you saw with perfect clarity WHY we were doing this. Why we needed this. There were so many beautiful performances that showed the Triangle what women in theatre could do. But behind the scenes in those productions, and in workshops and panels – we showed OURSELVES what we could do. And what we want to keep doing. I’m going to miss this, and can’t wait for next year’s festival.
Ami Kirk Jones
Sept. 3, 2016