In 1992, I saw Guillermo Gomez Pena in his performance art piece "1991 (A Performance Chronicle of the Rediscovery of America by the Warrior for Gringostroika)" a one person piece marking 500 years of colonization/genocide of the Americas. The layering of social critique, historical context, outrageous High Tech King character, and stunning set and costume pieces was an experience impossible for me to imagine until I witnessed this piece. Blown away by the performance, my most pressing impulse when it ended, was, "This is what I want to do with my life."
Raised in a working class, immigrant of color from South Asia household, I did not go to the theater. Charlie's Angels, Hindi language films, and Hindu rituals were my reference to play making, and my friends and I would recreate these oddly mixed up worlds on the grounds of the Rindge Towers in North Cambridge, MA.
As a child in the 1970's, I had the privilege of growing up in the afterbirth of Feminist and Black Liberation movements. Fighting for justice was on my mind and over the years I was schooled by many fierce Women of Color in critical thinking, community organizing, and art making. Gomez-Pena's performance piece brought it all together.
Audre Lorde wrote, "...the question of social protest and art is inseparable for me. I can't say it is an either-or proposition. Art for art's sake doesn't really exist for me. What I saw was wrong, and I had to speak up. I loved poetry, and I loved words. But what was beautiful had to serve the purpose of changing my life, or I would have died. If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That's the beginning of social protest."
My work lies near the crossroads of these extraordinary artists and thinkers. Structurally, my plays and performance pieces layer the personal, political, and spirit worlds where individuals struggle with revenge, ambition or duty, and commune with the dead against a backdrop of social crisis. Intersectionality of form and content is as present in my work as it is in my every day life.