Opinion: My LGBTQIA + community has been a crucial space for my creative growth. Here is what I learned.

Zablit (she / she) is a host, performer, writer, artistic engagement program manager at the Old Globe, and originally from San Diego.

How does a recent theater graduate build a career in San Diego? When I graduated from college in 2016 and returned to my hometown of San Diego, I had a BFA and didn’t know where to use it. Not knowing how to start a career in the creative arts, I instead joined the nonprofit sector as part of daytime refugee resettlement. It wasn’t until a friend told me about a call for tenders from Hillcrest performer and producer Lilly Holiday that I found a way to keep creating my own night shift. From then on, my LGBTQIA + community has been a crucial space for my creative growth.

Lilly’s Pink Boombox Productions performance group costs nothing to join; anyone could take his stage if they showed up and prepared something – anything, as I found out. At each of the monthly shows, I had the opportunity to develop a new number and try different methods to invite the creativity of the audience. I liked to ask questions and I liked the theater; that’s why I got a double specialization in journalism and drama at school. By asking audience members questions to create original multimedia stories, dances and narratives, I was able to reimagine how to express these passions. How might participants’ memories, perspectives and imaginations fuel a real-time performance? This Mad Libs style of community storytelling was born out of a desire to invite audience members to collaborate and relate the themes of what they watch to their own memories and experiences.

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Over the following years, I developed this practice of collaborative, question-based artistic performance. I had some of the most excruciatingly humiliating performances of my life when the experiments publicly failed. I’ve also had, by far, some of the funniest performances of my life (working with an audience to rewrite a breakup email and turn it into a jukebox musical comes to mind). The audience was warm, adventurous, grateful and courageous. Each month was a new experience, and Lilly Holiday was there every step of the way to offer crucial notes, but most of all firm and unwavering support to allow me to find my voice.

Although I eventually started working at the Old Globe as a manager of artistic engagement programs, my time as a regular performer in a Hillcrest troupe was my only creative outlet for a long period of post-graduation limbo. . My LGBTQIA + community was an artistic hotbed when I didn’t have one: no other accessible path, no other place to invest in my own voice and my creative power, nowhere to expand my skills and experience as a creator with agency on my own work.

Fast forward to the closing of The Old Globe in March 2020. The artistic engagement department was looking for ways to stay connected to the community in a time of social isolation and distance, and I offered my practice of personal performance as a tool. The word up! artistic engagement program was born. Over the next year on YouTube, I interacted with audiences and featured local artists and community members, collaborating on original artwork in real time.

This summer, Word Up! became Word Up! Live, a hybrid in-person and live-streamed program in which the audience can join me and featured guests at Old Globe Square in person, or in the chat of a simultaneous YouTube live stream, to participate. With a custom set by guest stars and Globe technical production staff, professional video production by Anthill Creative Technology, and a local musicians only soundtrack curated by Miki Vale, Word Up! Live seems surreal to me in the way it has become. The summer is marked by the community, collaboration and celebration of so many San Diego’s who have made their own contribution to the arts community.

It is only fitting that this pride season, I close the loop with a word centered on pride! starring the incredible drag artist and director Jaye Piper Rosewell. We will be working with the audience in person and the audience live on YouTube to create a new song based on the original “What’s in a Name?” by Rosewell. explore the theme of pride in relation to names and their meanings, particularly with regard to queer identity. Conversation prompts range from “How amazing are you? »At least thoughtful« Name a sport thing! “

Much like my collaborative performances on the Hillcrest stages, we’ll be taking risks, such as a voguing competition to the sound of California Tower bells and a participatory audience clip shot on location by videographer Eboni Harvey. (In the experimental spirit of my community acts at Hillcrest, every Word Up! Live this summer will include at least one experience that could very well fail.) The dress code for June 25 is “drag optional,” and we have a team of amazing artists contributing to this event including Farah Dinga, Valeria Vega, Miki Vale, Beto Soto, Gerry Flores and more.

Visit theoldglobe.org for details on summer schedule and free reservations.

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About Pia Miller

Pia Miller

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