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This is My Heart for You

The 2020 tour is "This is My Heart For You" by Silas House 

"This is My Heart For You" combines lyrical dialogue with striking movement, blending the conscious and subconscious, to tell the heart-warming tale of young people trying to find love and acceptance in their close-knit community. When two boys are kicked out of their local swimming pool for exhibiting gay behavior it sets off a firestorm in their town, dividing everyone, and plunging their town into a national scandal. Will the boys be able to find  acceptance within their community? With themes of love, acceptance, finding yourself and being true to yourself, this show will take you on an emotional journey. 
Director's Notes: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” ~Mayo Angelo

Recently, I attended an arts conference an attended the keynote session titled, “Dismantling Barriers that Exclude.” The speaker, Wanda Knight, asked us, as I am asking you now, to: “Cross and fold your arms in front of your chest. Then, uncross, and do it again, only this time, do it the opposite direction.” She asked if it felt odd or uncomfortable, which it did (and still does). Ms. Knight noted the same awkward, uneasy feeling often occurs when we address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. Doing what is right often thrusts us out of our comfort zone, though occupying that new place is necessary as we “work to create empowering spaces and dismantle barriers.” This discomfort is why working against injustice requires bravery.

Two years ago I was approached about directing "This is My Heart for You" for The Little Company. I turned down the opportunity almost immediately. I considered the idea of sending my college students into communities that may not be receptive to the themes and subject matter of this play, and what that might look like. Truthfully, I was afraid. For the past 17 years, maybe my whole life, I have worked to remain neutral when any conversation surfaced dealing with “hot button” topics. I didn’t want to be judged by my choices and have those choices affect my work in the community with children and their families.

During the past year my decision to NOT produce the show began to weigh heavily on my heart. It had raised awareness within myself. I became more attentive to the plethora of stories emerging from middle school aged children and older—stories filled with confusion, fear, sadness, and hatred. My heart broke.

I began to ask myself: What can I do? How can I help? Why is this happening? How could this be happening? So, I picked the script back up, and this time when I read the story, I realized I had to bring this story to life! By doing so, I found my voice and we, the cast and crew, potentially offer voices to those who have not found theirs, or who have been stifled. I hope to provide new perspectives and create an empowering, liberated space where we can learn with each other how to break down and dismantle barriers. I choose to begin by offering a vocabulary needed to navigate the difficult conversations about acceptance. I want to arm people with an arsenal of weapons filled with love and the understanding that actions lead to change. Human beings all have beliefs, faiths, and religious ideals. However, rather than vilify or ridicule each other, we must look at the complexities of all beliefs.

During this production process, I encouraged everyone involved to work from a place of love. I asked them to reveal the conflict inherent in the play while withholding judgment towards those whose deep religious views place them on the opposite side of the issue. I challenged everyone, and House reminded me, “to portray the region in its full complexity, with all of its positives and negatives”. In the preface to this play, Silas House writes about his desire for a “prayer for all things to get better.” I want this play to be that prayer. We all need understanding and compassion.

Onstage I have played with time, space, and energy during my process. House has written a play that, much like his novels, is filled with a language that is so fluid it dances upon the stage as a brush to canvas. Some of the moments are difficult to watch, but as you experience the story, I hope you are encouraged to remember what is important: love, friendship, family, home and loyalty.

I ask you, as Wanda Knight challenged me, to keep your hands “outstretched, unfolded, unclenched, everything but uncertain,” And when you cross your arms across your chest, do it in the opposite direction, so that you can remind yourself how important love and acceptance are in the world with all of the human race regardless of gender, race, sexual preference or identity, religion or political views.

“When you know better, you do better.” ~ Maya Angelo

-Octavia Biggs