VOICE: Why a life in the theatre?
SYDNEY: To empower, to question, to re-imagine myself and the society I’m a part of. What greater life could I live than one that is filled with “doing” and “enacting”
…Theatre has always been my first love because somewhere along the way it has become one of the only communicative forms that I am truly comfortable expressing my personal views and opinions. Perhaps this is because there is a greater risk in the theatrical realm than a one-on-one conversation; perhaps, greater rewards as well. I understand the essential aspect of theatre as not only an expression of an individual’s or people’s values and meanings but it is more extensively an opportunity to re-imagine how our society could be. What is our most fantastical utopia and how can we put this vision on its feet and into our bodies? Or in other words, how do we stage a production? I am a firm believer that thoughts become actions. With this in mind, I jointly recognize the power of the images that the arts and media fields transmit to society; at times, in ways that we could not expect until after the fact. We have the power to open minds, shift behaviors and ultimately rush a ripple of energy through our society.
This thought leads me to my own personal political agenda within the theatre, if I had to pinpoint only one. In my acceptance of a life in the theatre, I dually propose and promote roles, plots, themes, and hierarchies that empower women to become and see themselves as leaders and active, powerful citizens in their lives and the world around them. It’s an understatement when I say that women in American culture are flooded with disempowering images and pre-determined values that define womanhood. Just a few months ago, I tried to think of well-renowned women leaders because I was in search for a role model and an empowering book to read. Quite sadly, I could hardly think of 10 powerful and well-known women leaders. However, I have no doubt that this short list was not a result of the absence of brilliantly strong and bold women, but it was more a symptom of the reality that their stories are not the ones being told – or even worse, skewed perspectives of women are being told. This truth directly influences my involvement and dedication to the theatre. It is the will to envision and embody (by means of theatre-making and community interaction) a socially, morally, and economically equitable utopia for women that keeps me absolutely hooked to theatre.
Once a performative act is committed it cannot be undone. I’ve come to know theatre as not only being a magical experience but a corporeal, very real process of effecting and being affected. I’ve come to understand the “magic of theatre” as more than simply the “liveness” of it. Rather, it is the transmission of ideas from real experiencing bodies on stage to the real subjective audience members. A change, or reaction, occurs in this transaction of thought and image. If we accept this understanding of theatre, imagine the real-life everyday magic that could unfold throughout our society if we shared stories where women are the leading voice of their own experience, not used a mere accessories or ingénues. Imagine who young women in our country could become if they received this gift of image theatre. This performative power is what keeps my heart in the theatre. It’s time to act, to perform, to create, and to empower.