Audience Blog

Audience Blog #11: Clara Marsh (Houston)

Audience Blog #11: Clara Marsh (Houston)

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?   — Through my school, HSPVA. We did a workshop with some of the company members from The Burnin’.

Was this your first PT performance, workshop or engagement?   — Yes, It was my first.

When was the last time you made progress?   — I was somewhat of an ambassador for the show The Revolutionists at Main Street Theatre. The show is about 4 badass women in the French Revolution, and being an ambassador, gave me a way to spread a message of empowerment around school. At least 10 of my peers went to see the show, and twice as many came to talk to me about the show and we chatted about gender equality, and the evolution of gender roles.

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Listening & Learning: Empowering Accountability

The Burnin’ set fire to my soul. As a White, middle class, cis, heterosexual woman, my privilege is immense. That privilege had me bogged down, had me squashing myself, had me biting my tongue, and had me fearful. The artists at Progress Theatre, woke me up, and rekindled my activist heart. I remember as a kid, running around the house with sweatbands on shouting “girl power!” at the top of my lungs. They found that kid, and empowered her to speak again. They reached out their hand to me, and helped me to have the confidence to open my heart and listen. Let me define empowered: raised up, advised, supported, kicked in the butt. They lit a fire under my ass that has, as ensemble-member Rebekah said, made it so that “I can no longer encounter the world on a day to day basis, without being conscious of race.” On the car ride home, my mother, who had come to the show with me, asked me somewhat tearfully. “What can I do, as an old, southern, White woman?” This was my response:

“You just be you. You can’t help the fact that you were raised in the south, by two White parents, and I don’t expect you to. Just like I can’t help the fact that I have racist inclinations because of my upbringing and societal influence. You have raised me to be better than you. You have raised me to be more open than you. You have raised me so that I will teach my children to be better than me. I don’t blame you, but I will challenge you, just as The Burnin’ challenged me. I will no longer remain silent, but I will approach issues with love. I will listen to my Black brothers and sisters, and then I will speak. I will LISTEN.”

I see life on a spectrum. As much as it pains me immensely to say; racists, homophobes, and misogynists are humans, and have lives, and had mothers, and may have children. The way to change minds is to change hearts, so I must approach them from my heart. That doesn’t mean I don’t really, really want to punch them in the nose. A wise mentor once told me ‘When you speak from your heart, the world will open up to you.’ So if you have anger in your heart, feel it. If you have sadness in your heart, feel it. If you have guilt in your heart, feel it. If you have longing in your heart, feel it. Then, BREATHE. Then, find a family that will help you process it, and help you find a way to effectively channel that energy, as you put it out into the universe.

I can proudly say, that I have entered a family, and I expect them to hold me accountable to the standards I have set for myself, just as they expect me to continue to learn, and listen, and love.

Clara Marsh is a theatre senior at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, TX. She has been a Girl Scout for 10 years, is Vice President of the International Thespian Society at her school, is a member of the National Honor Society. She is also a Teaching Assistant at Main Street Theater’s Summer Performing Arts Camp. Clara can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/clara.marsh.52

⇐⇐ Read Audience Blog #10: “Making Progress” by Andrea Casas

Read Audience Blog #12: “Super Power: Unshakeable Emotions” by Avery Neveille Thompson ⇒⇒

Progress Theatre

December 29th, 2016

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