This week's TDM Instructor Spotlight features Gross-Loh Lecturer on Theater, Dance & Media Jeffrey L. Page! Jeffrey is a director and choreographer who taught TDM 148P: Koteba Performance: Traditions of the Banana this semester.
What excites you about working in TDM?
TDM centralizes Theatre, Dance, and Media as its core philosophical mode of operation and study. I have yet to witness this kind of work. As an artist who aims to dismantle racist structures and xenophobia through the art that I create, I must bring together such powerful genres to topple divisive forms of oppression. For too long, we have looked at art through the elitist gaze from the peak of the mountaintop, but it was Mos Def who said that "You know what's going on with Hip-Hop? Whatever's happening with us […], Hip-Hop won't get better until the people get better." In this sense, the Might Mos Def is speaking about how art is a self-portrait of the human spirit, and it bypasses the masks that we wear to reflect the very soul of who we are. TDM, for me, amalgamates the division of art into something centralized and, therefore, stronger. I am excited to be part of this thinking around how art can pull together its most disparate powers and parts to help fortify and galvanize the human spirit.
What’s an upcoming project you have that you’re excited about?
I am really excited to be co-directing with Diane Paulus and choreographing the upcoming Broadway revival of 1776, which will begin at the American Repertory Theater. I am excited to see a new day in American politics and how art will play a major role in readying people to understand something new about the world we live in. I have been building Trojan Women as a blues opera that urgently reflects grievances in a way for people to see something new about our current socio-political standing. I am also excited about a new musical that I am directing in Tokyo, Japan, which confronts issues around gender politics.
What’s something you’re excited about happening in the arts community right now?
Hope is diametrically opposite to fear. Hope clears the way for optimism, while fear breeds pessimism. The art that most interests me is activist in nature, and it unpacks and reveals gradations of radical hope. It causes us to think big and want things that are bigger than ourselves alone. In his essay, Nobody Knows My Name, James Baldwin recalls how he was scolded by Richard Wright, telling him that all art is protest. I believe this to be true, and I hope to create the kind of art that reifies, examines, causes a shift in how we think about each other.