1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish (100 words):
This is a solo performance piece that attempts to construct a vocabulary for manhood as an American person of color. It was initially inspired by the false identification of two brown high school athletes as the Boston bombers. I began thinking about what it means to see a brown boy running, what level of threat that creates, what that boy runs from and where he runs to. Using an oral history of hip-hop and studies on black masculinity as basis, Vocab is a letter to my unborn son and an attempt to find a new way to talk about myself.
2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget (50 words):
I would use $300 to compensate my choreographer George Jones, a senior at UArts, $200 to hire a designer to create the soundscape, $200 to hire a lighting designer and $100 to supplement ticket costs for young men of color from The Attic Youth Center who cannot afford to attend.
3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal) (100 words):
Over the past three years, I‘ve crafted two hour-long solo shows (Will You Accept This Friend Request and Always the Bridesmaid) and two collaborative evening-length storytelling shows. I‘ve worked with directors, dramaturgs and other storytellers to divine larger themes and compelling narrative arcs from true events. But each shows has been rooted pulling together autobiographical snapshots. Each has ultimately been about me. I want to push my solo performance into an area in which I‘m less comfortable. I‘m looking to tell bigger stories, to push the physicality of my work and to explore questions that are unresolved for me.
4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community? (100 words):
Vocab is an attempt to painted a multi-faceted picture of black manhood. It seeks to expand the common language we use to talk about men and boys of color. Ultimately, it‘s a piece about creating new possibilities. I‘ve learned from years of storytelling that the ability to frame one‘s own story in words that fit comfortably in one‘s throat is an extraordinary thing. Vocab is just one black gay man talking about manhood and cultural inheritance. But in so doing, I‘m also starting new conversations and, hopefully, giving other men of color new words with which to talk about themselves.