by Shontina Vernon
Where am I in this?
She is in it for herself.
That’s not a bad thing.
I almost didn’t write this post. I sort of left the theatre after Dana’s Michel’s YELLOW TOWEL wanting to rid myself of the experience of having seen it. Okay, maybe that’s dramatic. I wanted to un-see it in the presence of those I’d seen it with (preposition left here intentionally). Living in Seattle for me has been such a steady uncomfortable descent into a realm of whiteness that is generally eschewed where I’m from, that I try to ignore that gaze as much as possible in the realm of my work and imagination. I have a visceral, nauseous response to whiteness encroaching on my storytelling space. I feel it like fight or flight, for which usually I lean into the latter. “Why is it...
by Joyce S.C. Liao
Joyce Liao is a post-disciplinary artist from Seattle, often using improvised and choreographed movement, writing, videos or visual images as her creative media. This piece of writing is a reflection of the story woven in her mind while watching the performance.
Yellow Towel was a very sad piece to experience. There was no way to exit. The stage was white - so white that it was brighter than the backdrop of a million-dollar MTV showroom, but you knew that it happened in the corner of a house of poverty and substance addition, where the parents barely made enough money to feed their kids. They may be addicted to alcohol, cocaine or other kinds of drugs; the woman you saw on the stage could be a crack baby - or that her nervous system was perhaps damaged from excessive alcohol consumption; her entire body was tremulous, convulsive, spastic and distorted; it took her...
The Stranger's Rich Smith on Yellow Towel:
The one-person show emerges from a poem Canadian dancer and former marketing executive Michel wrote as an exercise during a dance class. The poem's about her hair, and, according to press materials, it recalls a time when, as a child, Michel would "drape a yellow towel on her head to emulate the blond girls at school."
In the show, Michel embodies a character who wants to accomplish pretty mundane, domestic tasks: eat, drink, cook, clean, play jams and dance like nobody's watching. But none of that's easy. When she speaks she cycles through...
by Dylan Ward
Coming out of tonights performacne of "Yellow Towel" all I can think is that I saw things that were familiar, but not to my life. There's a specific separation between me and the person I saw or might of seen onstage (the character) that I simultaneously wanted to be empathetic towards but never in the same situation.
What is to be done when you recognize something, or think you do?
Do you call it out? Do you try to help?
We might be tempted to say this speaks volumes, but what are we saying to ourselves?
In a sense, we always see ourselves when we watch a character; they are made from the threads of recognition we have; indeed the character of anyone is the same. The person we see we see because we recognize them to be similar to someone else, reinforcing who you thought they might be, and making the whole situation dangerously, and speedily inaccurate.
So what is to be done?
by Daemond Arrindell
When I walked into On the Boards last night to view Dana Michel’s Yellow Towel I was already in a mindset of comparisons. It’s often how I process, by comparing things. It’s the wonder of simile and metaphors and the workings of a poet. Kendrick Lamar’s new album, or rather EP “untitled. unmastered” was set to drop at midnight and as hip hop’s most influential artist currently (in my opinion) I was primed to see what would come of it after the immense success and risk taking and historical relevance that was his previous album To Pimp a Butterfly. See? Comparison.
In the case of Dana Michel’s show I was drawing a comparison to something much older – Whoopi Goldberg’s Tony Award winning one-woman show. The one that arguably got her cast as “Celie” in The Color Purple. In Whoopi’s case, she’s playing four different characters, in the pre-politically correct 80s, one of whom is a little girl, who wears a t-shirt on her head to mimic...
by Calie Swedberg
i am a blonde woman.
i am a blonde woman who grows my hair out twelve inches or more at a time in order to chop it off and donate it.
i am a person who takes pride in my blonde hair.
i imagine it as a wig on the head of some white child with no hair of her own. i imagine her joyful.
there is a wig on stage, made up of some blonde hair.
a black woman. a blonde wig.
i have never before considered what my blonde hair might mean to that black woman.
Yellow Towel is a deep and unrelenting investigation.
it is very quiet. until it is quite loud.
it is very white. until it is green.
it begins with the lights still up on the audience.
they fade so slowly.
the stage, so white, reflects light in a way that never allows the audience to hide.
i was trapped in my awareness of others.
OtB Ambassador Luzviminda Lulu Carpenter talks with Seattle Contemporary Black Choreographers (Jade Solomon, OtB Ambassador Dani Tirrell, Randy Ford) and with Yellow Towel creator Dana Michel on her LuluNation Talk show on Hollow Earth Radio.
Listen to the broadcast.
Learn more about the LuluNation show.
Calling Seattle-ites from age 13 to 75! Join Brooklyn-based theater artists 600 HIGHWAYMEN as they develop a new project in a residency at OtB from April 5 to April 23, 2016. No experience is necessary. The artists are looking for a wide range of humans to help them in building their new project, THE FEVER. Participants will be paid a stipend.
Learn more about the residency here.
Learn more about 600 HIGHWAYMEN, read press reviews and check out other work here.