Script Excerpt: Authenticity (Scene 4)

[Women enter and spread out across the stage, inhaling/exhaling, breathing the words and performing a gestural sequence.]

Aisha: Police your borders.  Lock yourself up tight. Seal up those crevices.

Meida: Be careful of the seeping, seeping, seeping

Abra: The seeping that creeps through the porous spaces left open

Felicia: The seeping that wafts in through your nostrils. Wiggles its way into your open eyes

Meida: Finds its way into the parting of your lips. Quietly growing.  Coming out of your body.

Abra: In the way you walk and talk

Aisha: So quiet in its presence

Felicia: You don’t even know it’s there

[Women rise and begin to perform movements, building a polyrhythm. End in a line at left of center.  A soundscape of women’s recorded voices plays as they perform ensemble movement.  Sound: Track #7 begins. Sound is continuous into Tracks #8 (Authenticity conversation) & #9 (Jimi Hendrix).]

Meida: These bodies are their own unique sites of evidence.  The very traces of something that is not so easily said.

Aisha: So why do we seem to give more value to the spoken and the written?  Is the word really the only way to articulate blackness across the globe?  The only to make it conscious?  I don’t think so…

Felicia: And so we are searching for the methods we employ, the actions we take to “do” black culture across geographies.  What are the practices and traditions, the kinetic examples of black culture as capital being exchanged and absorbed, internalized and exported: humming, hair braiding, testifying, playing the dozens, Yo mama jokes, cracking, talking to the screen, loud laughter, telling stories, learning by doing and imitating…

Abra: When we encounter other kinds of blackness, what do we do with that moment? Do I use the knowledge I already have, applying it to it my own body as I try these new black cultural garments on?  How do they fit?  Where are they too small? Too big?  Just right?

Meida: Who am I tricking when I wear these other black stories on my body?  Am I searching to be authentic, to get it right and fit in? Or is this a strategy to gain familiarity, to come closer to identifying and understanding what black means outside of the US or even Chicago?  Wearing these other stories of blackness can mean looking for ways to adapt these other stories to fit my own lifestyle, finding what is useful and contesting the things that aren’t productive.  Any you better believe that we are always in conversation, always receiving and giving out, always weighing our own stories of blackness against the ones we meet.

[Music transitions into a soundtrack based on our conversation on “authenticity.” Women perform ‘gestures of blackness.]

[Direct transition to Hendrix dance.]

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