THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Johnnay Leenay

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I am a directing apprentice/co-directing Morning Rituals with powerhouse Lisa Marie Brimmer for the brilliant Rica De La Concha!
 
2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? Queer and Trans folks need spaces dedicated to sharing their complex lived experiences with other queer and trans folks. It is crucial for us to see other people who experience similar struggles, victories, and worries and it is equally important to be able to see the spectrum of what it means to embrace these identities today. It allows the community to be vulnerable with one another and to be critical.  Stories are most powerful when they are for us, by us, and about us and The Naked I fully commits to this.
 
3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I? My blackness and queerness. My need to be around artists who dream far beyond this world and allow me to do the same.
 
4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? I have a hard time defining myself as an artist. I am just starting to feel comfortable using the word curator and convener but that is the beauty of this production. It allows you to test, and screw up, and learn, and grow. Artist have such a special place in the world and I am trying to be as inspiring as I have been inspired.
 
5. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work? Some days I feel like a walking talking social issue. I am an outspoken mixed race queer feminist. All of my identities inform how I view the world and that informs how I view art. I am envisioning a world where all my identities are welcomed and embraced and art allows me to get closer and closer to this utopia that I am redefining every day.

6. What other artists or shows have inspired you?Erin Sharkey and Junauda Petrus give me goosebumps. Whatever they touch is gold. Adja Gildersleve forces me to question and embrace my blackness. Albert Conteh. His vulnerability on stage allows me to feel soft. Sun Yung Shin is my favorite person to follow on Facebook. Mackenzie Owens. If I could buy all of her work I would. I could go on and on. The Twin Cities are overflowing with talent! You aren’t paying attention if you are not inspired.

7. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? Exploring the queer art scene, gearing up for Queertopia 2018, celebrating the 14 days of Valentine’s Day, trying to find the perfect pair of thrifted overalls, facetiming with my best friends, eating ice cream, and pretending Lena Waithe is my girlfriend.

8. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when…….  I feel understood.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

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THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Allison Knauss

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I’m one of the directing apprentices for this project, and specifically I worked on Just Google It by Aubri Drake, with director Hannah Stein.

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? These are stories that don’t get told anywhere else. We’re lucky in the Twin Cities to have several companies telling queer stories, but it’s merely a drop in the bucket of cis straight white stories. There is something magical in seeing something of yourself on stage, and THE NAKED I lets us see things we rarely ever see.

3. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? Most of my experience has been as a stage manager, so I generally bring an organized and precise eye to plays and projects that I’m working on. I’m excited at the opportunity to stretch my creativity through this apprentice directing role.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Esther Sandvik

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? This will be my very first time performing in a play of any kind, ever. I’m performing in a piece called “Portrait of Infertility” by M. Hendrickx.

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? The Naked I tells stories for and about the LGBTQ+ community that can help make people feel seen and heard. It’s important for people to see that their feelings and experiences are more normal than maybe society or their community shows them.

3. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work? Black Lives Matter. A reason I wanted to be involved is that I feel like 20% Theatre does a good job of trying to ensure that not only one type of story is told, and that they are also mindful when hiring and casting to ensure people in those stories are being represented.

4. What other artists or shows have inspired you? I have been to many pieces put on by 20% Theatre Company, and I also love going to musicals. My admiration for theatre and the different ways that artists can make one feel inspired me to try it for myself.

5. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? I’m currently in the last phase of my grad program and work full-time, but whenever those aren’t taking up my time I enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially when there’s snow on the ground!

6. Finish this sentence:  I feel the most naked when… Trying something new in front of strangers! Awkward!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, TJ Carley

Wyatt and Teege1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? This is my third time performing in a Naked I production. I have collaborated with other artists, I’ve performed a piece another artist wrote, but this time I am performing my own story, Four Words.
 
2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? Stories in The Naked I are important because they are our own stories. Real life stories, not some fabrication or over-simplification of queer lives. This show gives all of us, but specifically trans and gender-nonconforming people a chance to tell their stories.


3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I? 
As an older trans guy, I wanted my piece to reflect how much my life and the world around me has changed in the 10 years I have been on testosterone. This year, I’ve added “cancer survivor” to my identity, and while it’s not something I often share, I think it’s something that people, regardless of gender, can relate to.

4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? Ha, Ha, that’s funny. I don’t have a background as an artist. I make my living as a scientist, but I do have a creative writing degree. The open call for The Naked I productions allowed me to submit my writing. That writing has created opportunities for me to perform. My only artistic experiences are with The Naked I.

5. What other artists or shows have inspired you? I have met many wonderful artists and directors through each Naked I production. Each cast brings it’s own unique flavor to the production. It’s a big extended family I feel fortunate to be part of.

6. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? I love to read, write, travel, take pictures, and try to keep up with two 6 month old puppies!

7. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when……. I’m uncontrollably emotional.

 

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Ayesha Adu

thumbnail1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I’m performing the monologue “Triad” by Sara Kerr – and my character is a biracial, queer triplet who is socially stereotyped by society and unaccepted by her grandmother.

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? It’s important to tell these stories, because they are somebody else’s stories, too. We are not alone. The more transparent we are with our own stories, the better chance we have in the fight against inequality.

3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I?  While I am not a triplet (I’m actually an only child), I am a biracial, queer individual and grew up with everyone having an opinion of how I should behave. I wasn’t black enough, I was too white, and I am non-politically queer.

4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? I am a filmmaker and screenwriter. This is my first acting experience. I’m bringing my skills of observation to the table as I observe what my character is going through, and I, also, observe the audience’s reactions.

5. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?
Equality and equanimity are very important to me. I’m still learning how these inform my work. All I can say is that the message of my feature length screenplay, Stardust, that I’m writing now is all about being yourself, being transparent and authentic. It’s through these exercises that you can believe in yourself as an equal and have the presence that demands to be respected and treated this way.

6. What other artists or shows have inspired you? I perform with the Dykes Do Drag troupe, and it’s a wonderful experience. Everyone is incredibly talented. They’re like family to me. Heather Spears, the founder and producer, says we’re misfit toys here to entertain the community. It’s Minnesota’s own Saturday Night Live. You should go!

7. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? My hobby is filmmaking which I hope to make a living at some day… Otherwise, I spend time with good friends.

8. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when…….  I’m on a promising first date, or when people see or read my art for the first time.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 1-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Collins Hilton

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1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D?  I’m the Director for Hunta Williams’ original piece titled “Gender Identity / Same Person”

2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? All of the stories told in THE NAKED I (TNI) are told by and for the queer community – for once, authentic stories told by the people affected by them.

For me, watching the various pieces I feel this intense sense of comfort around the lack of ‘you’re not telling my story right’ because often the person onstage is telling their own story. Often, but not all the time. This is where I believe the magic comes in. The casting was done in such an intentional way that if the performer isn’t also the writer/creator, they have parallel identities so they can still perform authentically.

This intentionality is so important, and something I haven’t seen in other performance spaces, movies, TV, theatre, etc. I believe this is one of the small pieces that makes the stories in TNI as powerful as they are.

3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I? This is a complicated question, because as a director I don’t believe it’s my place to be expressing my identity in the show, but it is all over the process behind it. I’m Directing a piece in ASL, a language that I know conversationally. I’ve been working with two kick-ass interpreters (Alex and Asher) to work with my kick-ass actor, who is Deaf. Alex, Asher and I are all white non-cis folks, all supporting Hunta, a Deaf trans black man, tell his story. Of course identity is going to come up in the rehearsal room!

Gender, Language, Race, and Ability are everywhere. The intersections of my gender as a trans person, my ability to hear, and my whiteness have all come into play during this process, as have the gender, language, race, and ability of Alex, Asher and Hunta. In the rehearsal room we’ll often stop and talk about the barriers we’re having, such as Turning ASL into written English, Black ASL VS. ASL, East Coast VS. Midwest Communication Styles, etc. Once we’ve worked through it, or acknowledge that it exists, we are able to move forward. I believe that it’s everyone’s willingness to be vulnerable in the room that has made this successful.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I work with an awesome team.

4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? It’s funny, my first solo-directing experience was on a project based off of The Vagina Monologues that looked very similar to TNI.

My Historically Women’s college had a history of performing The Vagina Monologues (“VagMons” as it became affectionately known) every Valentines day. My first year, group of queer students rallied to replace the production with something that told the stories of more than cisgender women, something that would better represent “the student body of Mount Holyoke”. Thus, The Student Body was born.

Every year a Director applies with a theme and is chosen to facilitate the process from submissions to performance. The first year it was about Gender and Sexuality in homage to VagMons. I was the second director and chose to create a show about Ability.

It was incredibly refreshing to create a space for authentic conversation around the performance. I’m excited for that process to come with TNI.

5. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?
The representation of Queer people across industries. I want real queer people playing real queer people telling real queer stories. Why is that so difficult?

6. What other artists or shows have inspired you? I’m inspired by collaboration, by artists who can truly combine the thoughts and ideas of others to create something new and beautiful. I’ve tried to bring that to all aspects of my theatre work. I firmly believe that together we are able to create something so much greater than if any one of us had tried alone. Because of this, I’m constantly asking questions and leaning on the community around me to weigh in on things I’m working on. I am a community-driven-creator.

7. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? Movie Pass. I want Movie Pass to pay me to be their brand ambassador. Everyone should get movie pass. I Love Movie Pass. I do not understand how they plan to turn a profit. It’s a subscription service, $11 a month, and you get to see one movie in theatres every 24 hours. That’s it. I’ve been seeing SO MANY movies I would not have seen. I’ve become a snob for certain theatres because they have those fancy reclining seats. I’m all for it. Get Movie Pass.

8. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when……. I let people spiritually into my life.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!

Featured THE TERROR FANTASTIC artist: Daniel Mauleón

00100sPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20171020142114901_COVER1. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? Have you been involved with 20% Theatre in the past and, if so, in what ways?

My focus in art is writing scripts for comics (and a few plays). I like to explore the juxtaposition of words and images. Often this is on the page, as opposed to a stage but there is a lot of overlap with the visual story telling of theatre. This is my first time working for 20% if you don’t consider chauffeuring Shalee to and from rehearsals.

2. How did you get into projection design, and what has it been like to specifically design for The Terror Fantastic?
 
Projection design is both new and old for me. There’s certainly a lot of overlap with comic illustration and visual storytelling that comes into the play. Plus I have a weird love for Powerpoint. However, taking what’s in my minds eye and putting it to paper or—er—projections is a different story.

My first theatre projections were for a Fringe show last summer. That required a more cartoony look and for a show I wrote. So I was mindful to not write anything out of my skillset. Terror Fantastic challenged me to stretch as a visual artist creating illustrations that were fantastical in nature but grounded in a realistic depiction.

Terror Fantastic has also given me the chance to start learning Qlab, which was another fun hurdle and I’m glad to add it to my tool belt.

 
3. Why do you feel it is important to share this story/the story(ies) of this production with the community?
 

Like all 20% Theatre productions, The Terror Fantastic is filled with layers of necessary stories for generally under represented groups. Personally, I connect to Iz’s relationship to anxiety as it’s been something I’ve been working with most of my life.

For me, anxiety can cause shame as I react irrationally to false stimulus. No matter how much I understand something logically there are times I cannot help but act on fear. All the while considering in what ways my trepidation can help me.

I see a lot of truth in the shared performance of Addison and Hillary. The way anxiety rears its ugly head, while other times can provide a sense of comfort.
 
4. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform the art you create?
 
As a writer with plenty privilege, I think it’s important to challenge the systems that center me while pushing away others. In my chosen genre of super hero narratives that often means examining portrayals of masculinity, or providing heroes that marginalized children can see themselves reflected in. 
 
7. When you’re not rehearsing for The Terror Fantastic, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?
 

I’m excited to open so that I can play some video games. There’s also a lot of movies out that I’m excited to see. And I guess I should spend some time writing, but I also miss my cats.

8. In The Terror Fantastic, we get to experience some of the main characters’ fantasies. What are some things you fantasize about?

I mean, being a full-time artist would be pretty great. It’s one thing to write comic books off as a taxable expense. It’d be nice to consider reading them as part of a 9-5.