Ten Questions – Annalisa Dias
1. What was your most memorable theatrical experience as a child?
Actually, I have a very vivid memory of seeing the ballet Giselle. My mom used to take my sister and me to all kinds of performing arts fairly regularly, and for whatever reason, I have a very distinct memory of being powerfully moved by this particular performance.
2. Is there a production you wish you’d seen?
I don’t know that I have any regrets about not seeing something at any particular point. I believe everything we’ve experienced shapes us as we are, so as I am right now, I’m grateful for all the work I’ve witnessed thus far.
3. Who was the person who made the biggest impact on your career?
I’ve been very fortunate in the last several years to have worked on a number of projects with Kathleen Akerley (playwright, director, and Artistic Director of Longacre Lea). She’s been a fabulous collaborator, mentor, and friend, and I was very glad to have her direct the world premiere of 4380 Nights at DC’s Signature Theatre this past January. I’d also say that Larissa FastHorse (playwright and Co-Founder of Indigenous Direction) has made a huge impact on my career by introducing me to TCG, where she helped to nominate me for the 2016 Rising Leaders of Color cohort. My work with TCG has helped me get a better understanding of the national theatre landscape. And, I also have to mention Joe Calarco (playwright, director, and Director of New Works at Signature Theatre). He really was the person who challenged me to write 4380 Nights in the first place and acted as a champion of that play all through its life to date.
4. Who are your heroes (writing/composing etc. or otherwise?)
This might be a strange way to answer this question, but I’m actually not super interested in the notion of heroes. I find the hero narrative to be rooted in individualist exceptionalism, which is a building block of capitalist white supremacy. I’m inspired by communities, collaboratives, and people who find ways to disagree fruitfully. I love the work that Theatre of the Oppressed NYC does. I’m inspired by StoryShift and the folx from Another Gulf is Possible.
5. If you could be anyone (past, present or fictional) who would you choose to be and why?
I’m still trying to figure out how to be myself in the past, present, and future! (And maybe in fiction, too.)
6. If you could have a love affair with anyone (past, present or fictional), who would you choose?
A dear friend of mine once shared the Derek Walcott poem “Love after Love” with me, and it maybe seems apt here.
“…You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart…”
7. When you sit down to work, what must you have with you in the room?
I usually light a candle or incense when I’m writing words. Or if I’m working on movement, comfy clothes and plenty of water.
8. When you’re in despair with a piece of work, how do you maneuver out of that?
If I really can’t find what comes next, I usually read something wholly unrelated to what I’m working on. I find it makes other areas of my brain light up and loosens whatever knots I’ve tied myself into.
9. If you hadn’t become a dramatist, what profession would you have chosen?
These days, I keep thinking pretty seriously about whether I might be of use in law or public policy. It’s dark times, and I do actually grapple with how best to be of service to my community.
10. Which of all your works is your favorite, and why?
I hope I haven’t written it yet! Though, in effort not to dodge the question, I’m excited about my piece called the earth, that is sufficient because with it I’m exploring the notion of process as play. Theatre as ecology. This piece is in process now and will be produced in fall 2019 by The Welders in Washington DC.
ANNALISA DIAS is a citizen artist, community organizer, and award-winning theatre maker working at the intersection of racial justice and care for the earth. She is a Producing Playwright with The Welders, a DC playwright’s collective; and is Co-Founder of the DC Coalition for Theatre & Social Justice. Produced plays include: 4380 Nights, Servant Of The Wind, One Word More, A Legacy Of Chains, and To Defend Freedom. More information: annalisadias.weebly.com Twitter: @ajdm Instagram: @annalisadias
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