Audience Blog

Audience Blog #2 – Joecephus Martin aka skipp coon (Asheville)

Audience Blog #2 – Joecephus Martin aka skipp coon (Asheville)

Progress Theatre’s “Audience Blog” features responses to live PT performances written exclusively by show attendees we meet on tour.

How did you hear about PT? — From Carlton Turner.

Which performance did you see? When? Where? The Burnin’ @ Alternate ROOTS in Asheville, NC.

Was this your first PT show? — Yes.

When was last time you made progress? — Recently, I’m starting to accept and understand more about my worldview and how it impacts and influences my work.

A Spiritual Experience

In my experiences in creative spaces, the liberal nature of artists tends to create a culture where White aggression and power reign supreme. It leaves Black folks who are clammering for acceptance, at worst, and funding, at best, to compete for secondary (or as times currently have it tertiary) status. Here, the conversations between Black folks is about the work and the process of navigating spaces that are largely White and monied.

In some of these spaces, you meet an artist or see a work that moves you. In the conversations that follows, the narrative is different. It’s not light; it’s a real conversation about the creation of an artist. In those moments, you see pieces of yourself as art, you see your private self shown publicly. You feel it in a way that only you and the artist can understand.

I remember my wife putting our son to bed and telling her I wanted to go see “the piece that Carlton is in.” We said goodnight, and I left quietly to see what he had been creating. The lights dimmed and the show began. One of the first things I saw: a Black woman tending to the needs of a White woman. That Black face and those Black words told a full story. At that point, I saw that there were two plays—the one I saw, and the one I felt. If you can feel the play, you get to peak just beyond DuBois’ veil.

There are the pained half smiles and the sorrowful dances that all contradict the dialogue. It’s intentional. This is the play you feel. I felt it. I still feel it. It impacted my work and my perspective on not only theater, but on work in and of itself. Black art is a clock, it tells the time of Black people. It creates the spaces where the masses can finally see and feel their best selves. Seeing a work that feels like your “Black” feels is a spiritual experience. The Burnin’ is a spiritual experience at its highest level. We need more work that speaks in this way.

skipp coon is a husband, father, son, visual and performing artist. His world is colored brightly, in shades of red, black and green. skipp is a native of Jafrica (aka Jackson, MS). He is a by-product of growing up in Mississippi, a state with rich history, deep pain and great potential. Check out his latest music video “Blacker” here.

⇐⇐ Read Audience Blog #1: “The Right Notes” by Samantha Galarza

Read Audience Blog #3: “Trauma Time” by Naphtali Leyland Fields ⇒⇒

Progress Theatre

January 20th, 2015

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