Caring for Your Full Self


Photo: M.J. Chung

Part of the Invisible Diaries series:

Week 10 / Day 4

Week 10 / Day 3

Week 10 / Day 2

Week 10 / Day 1

Introduction

Today started with a welcomed throwback, of course delivered via Zoom meeting. Last semester was the first time I tried my hand at playwriting. To be clear, I am a dramaturg that LOVES being a dramaturg. I don’t view it as a pathway towards another discipline. I am very much content and alarmingly passionate about this role that for some reason remains underpaid (hi capitalism) and elusive (hi sexism).


In my Drama and Theatre in Museum Settings class at The University of Texas at Austin, us graduate students and some undergrads were broken up into teams to create art- and drama-based facilitations for youth groups of varying identities and affiliations. My team of four – director, playwright, two dramaturgs (yes, a special bounty!) – was charged with theatremaking for the youth mentorship program GirlForward, through the lens of a specific painting in the Blanton Museum of Art, in Austin, TX. I find it laughable that, pre-Covid, the main theme for us to create around was wellness; that was GirlForward’s chosen programming topic of the year. My team queried, what does wellness look like as it relates to mind, body, and spirit? What do we need to take care of ourselves and each other?


Two months into the project, we shifted it to an online space as Covid-19 emerged and presented new questions regarding wellness and taking care. Now my play featured college students working on a group project via a Zoom sleepover. To be honest, I was super disappointed in this reorienting/rewriting. By now we’ve seen the countless op-eds on Zoom fatigue and the calls for theatre institutions to hold please. Our professor graciously presented us with the option to pass on real-time (synchronous) facilitations and instead focus on scripting and models of evaluating our proposed programs. All groups decided to carry on, curious as to what Zoom drama pedagogy could look like.


The play, Girl, Be Well!, transcended our process/virtual production as methods and strategies for centering wellness and care became vital to our new every day. I find it heartening that I had the space to deeply interrogate what I need to be well, and to imagine ways of fulfilling those needs. Of course, wellness is intimate and looks/feels different for all kinds of bodies. But how cool to introduce this conversation to a group of teens during one of the most challenging moments in recent hist