Benefiting: Frank Silvera Writers Workshop
Produced by Twinbiz
Written by Yvette X (aka Yvette Heyliger)
Against all odds and emboldened by the 1960′s Black Arts Movement, Yvette X comes to terms with her politically-incorrect ancestry and stakes a claim as a dramatist in the American Theatre.
- Tue 6/5/12 – 6:00pm
- Fri 6/8/12 – 8:30pm
- Sun 6/10/12 – 4:00pm
- Sun 6/17/12 – 3:00pm
Answers by Yvette Heyliger (Playwright)
Karen Tortora-Lee’s Question
How did you come up with the title for your show?
Yvette: The title of my show came from a line in the play which says, “…I feel compelled to create a safe, inclusive space that builds a bridge to Baraka and the other writers of the Black Arts Movement; writers who were the forerunners of multiculturalism and whose legacy to the melting pot was to tell their own stories, their own way, and to get those stories to the masses “by any means necessary.”
Diánna Martin’s Question
If you were going to invite 5 people (from the past or present) to see your show – who would you invite … and why?
Yvette: I would invite Amiri Baraka because he is credited with having started the Black Arts Movement. I would invite my high school drama teacher so she could hear me recite a “Black poem.” I would invite my deceased mother, and hope that she would be proud of how I’ve put our lives onstage to illuminate issues that are meaningful to me. I would invite Barak Obama because I discuss a period in history when an African American president was not even imagined. Last but not least, I would invite an influential government official who can spearhead legislation which ensures that women theatre artists get equal production opportunities from institutions that benefit from government arts funding.
Antonio Minino’s Question
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made for your art and was it worth it?
Yvette: I would say the biggest sacrifice would be having a spotlessly clean house and money in the bank due to trying to make a life in the theatre (I still have hope for money in the bank!). No, I’m not sure if it was worth it… But, when my eulogy is read, will anyone really care if I kept a spotless house? I don’t know. I do know that I am inexplicably driven to make my mark in this world; to use my time on earth to make a difference; to change lives for the better with my work, one ticket buyer at a time.
Geoffrey Paddy Johnson’s Question
Was there any unexpected discovery made during the development of this production and can you share it with us?
Yvette: The most unexpected discovery is that, after nearly 30 years, I still have some acting chops! I have not been on the other side of the footlights since playing Claire’s (Phylicia Rashad) sister, “Aunt Sarah” on Cosby Show. Soon after, I married and focused my creative attention on raising my kids and writing plays. Eventually I started directing and producing. Bridge to Baraka is my first one woman show, so I feel as though my life has come full circle. However, acting again is not exactly like riding a bike—it can be very physical, even aerobic! You have to be in shape to be an actor. On top of that, I am used to actors saying my words, not me saying my words! A facility for speech and diction used to be there without me having to think about it. Now I have to look at exercising not just my body but my tongue! I have a newfound respect for what actors have to do to stay on top and in shape in this business, especially when doing one of my plays!
Michelle Augello-Page’s Question
What do you hope the audience receives from the experience of seeing this show?
Yvette: In the beginning of the play I proclaim, “I am not a man. I am not white. I am not young. But I have the audacity to write plays for the American Theatre featuring roles for leading women.” Women theatre artists get less than 20% of production opportunities nationwide. Women of color get even less than half of that, and at one time it was even as low as 1%. Up against these odds, what gives me the chutzpah to keep going as a playwright in this business? Well, when I discovered the Black Arts Movement, I realized that I was standing on the shoulders of artistic warriors who could not be denied a place in the canon of American arts and literature. If African Americans facing relentless racism in the 60’s could do it, then surely we women facing an on-going lack of parity in theatrical opportunities and equal pay can do it in the new millennium.