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Learning to play well with others

I would like to play well with others.

I used to. Growing up, I had to; with seven kids in the family, you share your toys or someone is going to get an actual piece of leftover two-by-four in the face. Plus we were all sporty, so we could do a pickup game of soccer just on our own and to be honest, big sprawling board games like Risk and Monopoly were pretty epic.

But at school, I was a bit of an outcast—for my family’s poverty, for my incipient nerdiness, my weight—so I wasn’t in demand for a lot of teams. When there were artificial collectives for academic projects or student associations, I was rarely in a position of power, and yet in those same groups, I frequently ended up carrying the lion’s share of the work. I just wanted to make The Thing happen—hi, super keen nerd girl here!—and other people coasted on my labor.

Many of the projects I have taken on in my adult years have followed the same pattern: solo because I want to get shit done. And the groups that I worked with, for performance purposes, frequently wound up with conflicts, if not outright implosions, because I wanted to get shit done, sometimes at the expense of group process and consistent ethics and people’s feelings.

I stopped trying to do those things and decided to focus on my solo work. As my touring schedule got more intense, it was easy to pretend like wanting to work by myself was ENTIRELY my artistic choice, that it wasn’t some flaw or trauma of my own that I couldn’t work through.

What? I was touring! I was never in the same place for more than five months at a time, and usually I was passing through places for just a week or two at a time. How was I supposed to meet anyone to play with? How could I set regular writing dates with other performers? How could I go to networking events or other people’s shows when I wasn’t in any one town long enough to do it? I convinced myself of the futility of such endeavours, and accepted my lonely lot.

For a time. Except I kept seeing what other people were doing in collaboration with each other, great shows and writing, really interesting cross-disciplinary happenings and zines and videos. Here in Berlin the potential is real and exciting, so really feel it, this tiny, almost infinitesimal nudge…

You could do that, it says. You could get in there and play. You’re in Berlin for a while, go on, try it out, ask people, get involved. If not here, where else is it going to happen?

These are all very reasonable words that my subconscious tries to whisper in my ear. I shrink a little inside and shake my head, or puff up in self-importance at my loner status, I’m a rebel, I do things on my own, nobody else is going to do it the way I want things done, I play by my own rules.

But to be honest, I’m tired of worrying about everything on my own. Some art is better in collaboration. I want to play with others, which I think means I’m going to have to figure out some new rules soon.

*****

Always looking for interesting opportunities and new performing connections, but the core of my vision remains true: making space for those awkward conversations around authentic sex, sexuality, and relationships. If you also think those conversations are important to have, then consider becoming a patron of mine on Patreon. 

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