I strongly believe that words give things power, but I also can be indecisive. So, while many folks struggle with keeping resolutions, I’ve struggled to even make them. Several years ago, I stopped making resolutions altogether, and, instead, I started setting intentions. I began choosing just one word to carry through the year. The first word I chose (or, the first word that chose me) was audacity.
Generally speaking, I’m pretty understated—subtle, laidback in the cut, not exactly a wall flower but lowkey enough. I prefer listening to talking, and I don’t feel the need to contribute unless I’m adding something of value. But we live in a pro-extrovert society, and the squeaky wheel gets the oil or whatever. So, a little audacity couldn’t hurt, right? The year I set my intention to be audacious, I didn’t create an action plan, per se, I just held the word in my head and in my heart. I opened myself up to opportunities to practice audacity.
One opportunity came in the form of a Facebook post by the annual DC Black Theatre Festival. They were hosting a one-act slam and were calling for work. I was in grad school at the time taking a playwriting class. We’d written a few short scenes, and a couple of mine had received positive feedback from my professor and colleagues. Pre-audacity, I would have scrolled right passed the post, thinking things like, I don’t have the experience, or that’s not for me, or even who do I think I am?
Instead, I took one of my ten-minute plays and submitted it to the DC Black Theatre Festival one-act slam competition. And they accepted it (WTH moment #1). I reached out to my sister in Jersey who was doing some acting at the time and her old college roommate in Queens who had studied performance. I asked them to do this ten-minute two-hander (a play with 2 main characters) in DC for free. They said yes (WTH moment #2). The old college roommate even knew a director in NYC who would rehearse the piece—also for free (WTH moment #3).
Now I had actors and a director. I pulled costumes and props. I flew halfway across the country to stage an original 10-minute play in a competition where the only prize was bragging rights. You might say I was doing the most. But I would have gone back east that summer anyway to visit family, and I did have friends to visit in DC. So, I flew into Newark airport and, after visiting with the family, my cast and I packed into my sister’s car and drove to DC.
We participated and advanced to the finals (which WTH moment is this? I’ve lost count). I knew winning would be a longshot, but what I didn’t know was that the competition would continue into the next day. All finalists had to put on their plays a second time, and the audience would judge. I found this out after my actors had packed it in and gone back to New York and New Jersey.
I’d come too far—literally—to forfeit, so I hustled. I knew virtually no one in the theatre community, but I sent a couple Facebook messages to my professor and a few classmates asking if anyone could connect me with actors in DC for a short, same-day, script-in-hand performance. Lo’ and behold! Somebody knew somebody and put me in contact with two incredible Black actresses who—sight unseen—showed up to do this piece. (Shout out to Maya Jackson and Celeste Jones). They were local. They were available. They were phenomenal. In less than 24 hours, mama had a brand-new cast.
The actresses met me at the venue, I gave them the script, we ran through it a few times, and then it was curtains up. We didn’t win. It was the DC Black Theatre Festival, after all; we were up against local talent with friends and fans in the audience. But the fact that I submitted my play, had it selected, cast it not once—but twice (one of those times with actors I’d never met), directed it (did I mention I’d never directed before?), and placed runner-up in my first play competition still felt like pretty boss moves.
That was the biggest adventure I had in my year of audacity, and the experience set me on a path… I’m at a place now where I’m more willing to just go for it, and I don’t really embarrass too easily—well, I guess it’s more accurate to say that since almost everything embarrasses me anyway, I’m free to do whatever I want.
Since my year of audacity, I have continued my tradition of intention, choosing just one word (okay, maybe two) for the new year. My other words have included: intuition, ease, courage, confrontation, and this year’s word, release. It’s too soon to say what’s going to come of it. But just like with audacity, I’m holding it in my head and in my heart and leaving myself open for opportunities to practice.
What are you opening yourself up to this year?Leave a Comment