5 Questions Answered
Posted on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 0:12 AM
By Danielle Pinnock, Writer & Performer, BODY/COURAGE
1. Birth of an idea: What was the moment that you knew you had to tell this story? When did the impulse arise? Where were you in time and space?
I was in my wood paneled dorm room in Birmingham, UK when the idea for Body/Courage came about. I was in grad school at Birmingham School of Acting, and this production started as a Master's dissertation there. I only performed five interviews. I wanted to see more representation of people who looked like me telling stories about body image. As a Caribbean-American plus sized actor, I wanted to also focus on stories not just about weight but on a wider spectrum of body acceptance.
2. You seem to have a knack for allowing people the space to tell their story. It seems to be a kind of a gift. Where does this come from?
Thank you for the lovely compliment! My Grandma would tell me when I was younger, that I had a face that would make people tell their business. I never knew what that meant as a kid. In my early 20s people would come up to me at random and share their stories with me—on the bus, in the frozen food section at the grocery store, in line at the bank! The world we live in now ALWAYS has to be connected to something: online, text, email, etc. People are spending so much time connecting to these THINGS that we are rarely spending the time to connect with each other. So when I interview people for this show, I give them my full attention, we meet in a comfortable environment, and I give them the space to tell me what is on their minds.
3. All these stories are rich, powerful and moving. What does it feel like to receive a story?
You have to erase all judgements when receiving a story. Once judgement arises it clouds the ability to become open. I have had some tough interviews that aren't featured in the world premiere, but which have changed me as an artist. You have to be a blank slate in these interviews and just receive the information and give everyone the chance to let their story shine.
4. Of all the stories, was there one in particular that really caught you off guard or surprised you?
There is a section of the show dealing with race & body image. Last month, I did interviews with former KKK and skinhead members. The thing that surprised me with both of these interviews is these two men, who never met each other, began and left these hate groups for the same reason. They live in two different states and have never met each other. When interviewing the former member of the Klan he went into detail of the hate crimes he carried out. At the end of the interview, he apologized to me; even though he has been out of this organization for over 30 years, he still is making amends to people of color.
5. With this new version of BODY/COURAGE, you've added in your own personal narrative. What has that experience been like?
It has been scary and exciting. It has taken me five years to gather the courage to add my own story to this play. It was so easy to hide in behind the mask and stories of others on stage for so long. This is the first time the mask is coming off, and it such a healing moment for myself as an artist.
Writer & Performer, BODY/COURAGE