- Continuing the Conversation: Responses to Gabriela Serena Sanchez and Quiara Alegría Hudes
In August 2018, Gabriela Serena Sanchez and Quiara Alegría Hudes delivered a dialogic keynote address at the Association for Theatre in Higher Education conference in Boston. Theatre Topics decided to publish the full transcript of their speech in this issue, and to ask four people who were there to respond to what they said. Here is what they wrote.
Martine Kei Green-Rogers: “Honesty and Collective Liberation”
I have to start by acknowledging that I think it is funny I was asked to respond to this keynote. Many of the questions and thoughts brought up by Sanchez and Hudes are ones that I have ruminated, pondered, and wrestled with over the past few years.
For example, as Hudes states in the keynote, “maybe you gotta turn back on yourself for real revolution to be possible.” I think about this every time I take a dramaturgy gig or teaching position. Why am I interested in this project or institution? How will I grow as an artist, scholar, and educator by working at/with this organization or institution? Will my voice be valued or am I there just to help with their diversity optics?
For a moment of honesty, tempered with humility, my career has gained much traction as a result of my current position as president of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, but it has also left me in some vulnerable situations. Running an organization is always difficult, but is additionally hard when you are constantly in the position of needing/having to explain how and why you are in that position to critics and detractors. When I was asked to consider the presidency, I found myself asking all the aforementioned questions and wrestling with the answers.
I also find myself asking these same questions about my life in higher education. In some respects, having to explain why I am there has decreased over the years. But now it is about proving my competency to remain. Many of these trials and hurdles in higher education became less tolerable once I understood that professional decorum is defined by white male standards of behavior that are not applied universally. Passion in a black female body is read as anger and dangerous. I have learned the hard way that confronting patronizing behavior from colleagues (especially when my body is the only such body in a department) is one of the most dangerous things I could do if I want to keep my sanity (let alone my job).
Resultantly, I reckoned with the disappointment when I have discovered that my presence was only wished for because of the ways in which I identify (as opposed to my artistry and knowledge). I simultaneously raged and chuckled in the moments in which I found out that I was “let into the room” because of optics, but eventually valued for my knowledge. I cried when people, organizations, institutions, and systems let me down. I rallied when I knew a place could do and be better. I eschewed the syllabi, course descriptions, and ways of doing things I inherited from institutions and [End Page E-15] organizations and revamped them to expose buried and forgotten voices. I spent summers carefully balancing the amazing multitudes of scripts and textbooks and subverting expectations and definitions of “Western drama.” I washed my hands of places that decided I was “trouble,” and refused to be silent about the treatment I endured at those places. Although I need to admit that this last point has both gotten me into trouble and provided comfort (knowing that others of historically marginalized groups have the information needed to decide if working at that place was the correct choice for them). Despite the personal and professional risks, I (more importantly) learned that the “politics of politeness” has not and will never be polite to me in return, so I almost always choose to speak my mind.
All of this said, I understand on an experienced and reflective level what Hudes meant when she said “to love...