It’s been a difficult year for many and a developmental one for me. In addition to successfully raising 30K for local Black and Native noncis artists and being named one among the Marsha P. Johnson Institute Organizer Class of 2020 , I’ve been selected as one of four artists for 20% Theatre Company’s prestigious offering Q-STAGE: New Work Series . The work I’m producing is currently entitled Mx. 4 Minneapolis. Mx. (they/them) is a nonbinary Black trans person running for Mayor of Minneapolis--and in many times is already the Mayor of Minneapolis--but this is no ordinary campaign. They are offering themselves up as host for the Spirit of Mayor before you, their beloved community and will dance with the poisonous nature of Minneapolis City Hall and the natural process of communal election. Before I knew I got into this program, before the onslaught of COVID-19, and before Minneapolis hit national headlines for being the birthplace of the current uprising, I was already visioning this piece. I’m grateful because there couldn’t be a more critical time for it.
Mayor Frey has failed us, insulted us, blamed us for a proportionately destructive response to the death of our kin. City Council got on stage and made grey area commitments. Some of them are pushing reform plans and feel good methodologies that are not adapted to the emergencies we’re now experiencing. None of which are explicitly Black trans women and femme centered and none of which are abolitionist in nature. In my time on the Minneapolis Arts Commission and the Transgender Equity Council, interacting with this branch of local government over the last year, I’ve seen two types of leaders emerge from these crises: Those trying to maintain what was and those trying to make a grey area out of what is. Meanwhile, as an unpaid, unemployed, Black trans leader on both of those boards, I produced Black trans women and femme centered abolitionist work. I am expertly equipped to break my people out of a binary and bring City leadership to a third option.
Next year, City leaders will be up for reelection, including the Mayor. I became fascinated with this role from a spiritual-artistic perspective because to me, Mayor is a role highest in the community without being totally disconnected from it. The people of Minneapolis have a right to envision a Mayor that acts like it. We have the right to a Mayor who considers and responds to the spiritual impact of state violence. We have the right to a Mayor who wants to dismantle and defund the police. We have a right to a Mayor who does not tell us that change is slow, but bends Time itself to bring change to us. Mx. will be my vision of the most heightened version of that Mayor of Minneapolis. I want to bring about a Mayor of Minneapolis so purely in the direction of abolition and Black justice that the people of Minneapolis will never again be confused about what that looks like. Cause Mayor Frey and reform ain’t it.
I need my community to support me while I generate this important work over the next few months. It’s easy to see the value of throwing $25 towards groceries, bills, medications or other types of emergency for a trans person. I bet it feels really good too. And I need you to see the value in also putting money towards trans artistry. I need my community to show me that you’re not just swooping in and covering what should be basic survival needs when it comes to Black trans folks. Show me that you want us recognized for our invaluable cultural contributions.
Mx. isn’t just Black and trans because I am. Mx. is Black and trans because as I’ve said before, Black and Native noncis artists are the real city makers. Noncis artists are always remaking the world from within violent lack of resources and our work is constantly consumed, though never named and rarely adequately supported. The City of Minneapolis you may not be surprised to learn, makes the most money from the sale and taxation of this land. To quote Marcela Michelle, the curator of Q-Stage and artistic director for 20% “We’re the culture honey. And the culture comes first. Then the buildings come.”
This piece will premiere in February of 2021. In the aftermath of this national election and before the local one, when it’s cold and sad in the depth of a COVID-19 laced winter. You will need it to carry on. Don’t allow me to struggle while producing it. The money will pay me to produce it and some of it I will reinvest in production aspects of the show.
Current resources/investments (~15K):
20% Theatre Company will be providing a stipend for me as a selected artist is $1200 and a design budget amount at $200. They are also covering other related expenses for the Q-STAGE program as a whole - like marketing, other design assistance/tech/stage manager, possibly rehearsal space, etc.
The Coven has generously awarded me one of their highly coveted community memberships, so I will have COVID safe workspace covered during the writing phase.
A local Deaf artisan textile specialist will be working with me on a special effects costume piece.
Eric Canlas, a filipinx, nonbinary trans, movement trainer will be custom creating physical training for this show and creating physical innovation with camera operation.
Hair, makeup, lighting will be from my personal acquisitions over the years and rehearsal will be done in my home, valuing over $10,000 in space and materials.
If you contribute over a thousand dollars to this project, I will grant you access to a Producers Circle. You will receive production updates, notes, behind the scenes materials and photos, invitations to exclusive workshops of the piece and production credit. If you are trans and contribute over a thousand dollars to this project, you will receive all of the above and I will publicly refer to you as Daddy or your gender euphoric equivalent thereof.
Want to know more about Commarrah? Head to Commarrah.com and follow them on Tiktok, Twitter, and Instagram as @Cocoabash
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