Over the next six months, I am working with Ragged Wing Ensemble to create a performance called the Multiverse. As the process coach, I support the performers and director in recognizing the interpersonal dynamics that play out for many of us in mixed race spaces.
The participants are an extremely diverse group of folx—race, gender, age, ability. Some will make their appearance in the blog after the mounting of the show. What is so exciting about working with them is that we get to explore habits of mind both individually and in groups. We get to explore the habits or patterns that make up the bulk of how we interact with one another.
I am committed to nonviolence and honesty, supporting my clients through examining systems and habits that undermine these ideas is the basis of most of my work. The way in which we have been taught to react and relate to one another is often the opposite of these two concepts. In relationships we are taught to lie a little, to subvert our own needs in order to make the group work better. Or, we learn to use outbursts, crying, manipulation or a number of other tactics to get our needs met. All this is based on our conditioning, how we grow up in our families, the way we were treated in school, or the expectation of our role in our communities. We all have a character to play; we have masks and craft our habits to fit the roles we feel need to be expressed at a certain time. Our gender, race, age and ability impact and intensify these roles and determine how we express ourselves in relationship to others.
My support for the performers has been to provide tools to examine these habits and strategies around reactions. We spend time getting to know one another, talking about family history, expectations, pain points and personal triumph. We examine potential triggers and the assumptions we make about others in relationship to ourselves. Each of us has the belief that our experience is solitary. Many of us believe that our suffering is different, more intense or unknown to others. When we practice tools of reflection, we begin to see that we all have pain and that our reactions are made up of past experiences and often have little to do with the situation that is unfolding at that moment.
What if instead of reacting to trigger moments and judging the missteps of those we interact with, we examined our need to be right and hold power, our accumulated history, our vulnerability?
We are examining if there is a way to hold our own accountability, to craft a home inside our ourselves for our own safety and at the same time be responsible to our community? When we craft our own spaces of sanctuary rather than expecting others to hold that space for us, we recognize the humanness of our fellow travelers (performers, collaborators, kin, etc.) and that gives us the space to heal and respond in a way that is both honest and nonviolent.
The goal is to reduce the violence we inflict on others as well as reduce the amount of violence we each experience. In this way we can explore what a world of multiple viewpoints might look like. How would it be different if we came to the table as equals rather than placing whiteness, consumerism and patriarchy at the center?
Can you hold your own responsibilities? What are you willing to let others experience and not feel the need to control? Can you give have your ideology be at the center? Can you be in community with others, shoulder-to-shoulder and only take up your percent of space?