Neighborhood well being is the main focus of Your Therapeutic is Killing Me on the Cara Mía Theater – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Price

More than 18 months into the coronavirus pandemic, a new play explores the inequalities of care within the larger community. The Cara Mía Theater is presenting Virginia Grises Your Healing is Killing Me as a free community tour from August 19-22.

Your Healing is Killing Me is the culmination of a three month project in which Grise has worked with community members from every neighborhood or cultural promoter who have created “community toolboxes” for collective caring and positive community change.

This community tour is part of the ArtsActivate 2021 program, partially supported by the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, a todo dar productions, the Art of Change Agency, the Community Language Cooperative, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Howlround Theater Commons.

The Cara Mía Theater encourages the audience to appear in comfortable, exercise-ready clothing as it becomes part of this experience, which is part performance, part writing, and movement workshop.

Cara Mía Theater

Director Kenda Ware, playwright Virginia Grise, and performer Florinda Bryant are joined by spectators during an interactive dance party on stage as they wrap up a performance of Your Healing is Killing Me. The photo was taken by Cara Mía during the Latinidades Festival of New Works 2019.

Grise talks about the inspiration for Your Healing is Killing Me and the creation of ecologies of care.

ABC-DFW: What has led you to the topic of healing and different ideas about healing in different communities?

Virginia Grise: The title of the manifesto is Your Healing is Killing Me. It is not a manifesto about healing, but about political and artistic practice. It is a performance manifesto about the structural forces that try to kill us, harm us and our communities. Based on the lessons learned in San Antonio free health clinics and New York acupuncture schools from the treatments and consequences of curanderas, abortion doctors, Marxist artists, community health workers and civic dermatologists, the performance manifesto prompts us to identify the context and conditions in ours Communities that cause us emotional and physical suffering and asks how we can defend ourselves against what harms us so that we can build living communities.

ABC-DFW: Why is it important to make this project a community tour?

VG: Your Healing is Killing Me speaks about and to intersecting communities and people, including black, brown, Asian and indigenous communities, as well as women, working class and queer people. As a project that raises community health issues, I saw this as an opportunity to build and learn with the local Dallas community. The Community Tour is designed not just as a performance, but as an intervention, a call to informed collective action, to exchange strategies and resources to counter systemic violence, with a commitment to building communities of care. The performance itself is part conversation, part writing, part movement and will be interactive. In addition to being a model for community engagement, the tour is a different approach to outreach and community building. All this work also leads to the actual workshop production of the show, which will open at the end of September as part of the Cara Mía Theater’s Latinidades festival.

ABC-DFW: You have worked with community members to develop “community toolboxes”. What is in these toolboxes and what did you learn about collective care through this process?

VG: The community toolboxes are not intended to provide “answers”, but rather to share stories, tools, recetas and strategies. As opposed to sharing a right path, such as organizing a campaign, the Toolbox lives as an open source document to archive the many and varied ways in which communities are already engaging in self-defense and movement building. We developed this model for collecting information together with the Art of Change Agency in Tucson. This is the first time we’ve had the chance to work with community-designed toolboxes in Texas.

Cara Mia Theater Your healing is killing me Pleasant Grove Crew

Cara Mía Theater

The Pleasant Grove Crew, Priscilla Rice, Tamitha Curiel, and Lyrique Jaye organized a community reading group to read Your Healing is Killing Me together.

People identify and document resources from their own communities, so every toolbox is different. Bachman Lake creates a toolbox that includes artistic workshops for teenagers; Pleasant Grove recorded a language justice statement and also organized a reading group to read Your Healing is Killing Me together; the Oak Cliff performance will include a social justice mass, and they designed their toolbox so people can actually take them home on the day of the performance.

I believe we can actually start when we bring together a community of people hardest hit by the health system crisis in this country to take part in a series of workshops where we begin to be creative about what killing us and our communities to regain a system of life and knowledge production that helps reorganize community health.

ABC-DFW: There is a companion piece, “This is a Manifesto!” That allows people to share their perspective. How do you help people – regardless of their writing experience – to express themselves?

VG: The slogan for the Manifesto Writing Workshop is, “You don’t have to be a writer to participate, you just have to have something you want to say.” We will find out what you have to say through writing, talking to one another and through movement. The workshop is really intended as an opportunity to explore your own voice, your own desires, your own dreams and create a space where people can articulate these ideas and share them with others.

ABC-DFW: What is the healing like in the community as we grapple with this pandemic?

VG: The pandemic has really exposed health disparities that affect both race and class. In Dallas, just look at I-30 as an example of the clear division between the communities that divide a city. If we want to speak of “healing,” we have to address and eliminate these gaps, these differences. The questions I ask myself with this work are: How do we create ecologies of care in the face of state violence? How do we dream when our communities are attacked? What are our collective tools for self-defense against these attacks? My goal as an artist is to create spaces for movement, mutual help, joy and celebration right in the middle – to study and think together, work and collaborate together, think and create together. I actively try to create spaces in which we can dream together, imagine ourselves and build a world in which we are all free.

Cara Mia Theater_ Your Healing is Killing Me 2019

Cara Mía Theater

The performer Florinda Bryant performs Your Healing is Killing Me in Cara Mías Latinidades Festival of New Works 2019.

Performances in English will be held on August 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the Pleasant Grove Center and August 21 at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. A bilingual performance will be shown at 2:00 p.m. in the Bachman Lake Pavilion.

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