February 24, 2017 was the start to one of the most transformative weeks of my life: the weeks leading up to this date being equally as impactful. Along with two of my fellow classmates, I was given the difficult task of researching the “why” behind the uprising of the Alt-Right movement. As I began to investigate the ideologies of this ‘far-right’ group, it was important to me that I did not categorize these people as being conservatives or Republicans, but instead, separate from any political affiliation: followers of an extremist group. It was crucial that I dismissed any of the preconceived notions that I had about the Alt-Right in order to ensure that I accurately understood who these members were, how and why they became a part of this movement, and what beliefs they possess. If you would have asked me to describe the followers of this extremist group before my research journey, I would have called them racists; however, it is not that simple. The Alt-Right is a complex body of people who hold numerous beliefs that would suggest that they are racist, nationalist, misogynistic, fascist, xenophobic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic: to peg them to a single definition would dismiss the complexities of this group.
February 27, 2017: Meeting Davey Anderson.
After weeks of research, the time had finally arrived where I would be able to incorporate my findings into the creation of a new play under the leadership, direction, and guidance of Davey Anderson. Over the span of five days, I partook in a collaborative devising process that allowed me to morph my two life passions, theater and social activism, into one, truly relevant piece of work. The people involved in this weeklong intensive workshop were uniquely diverse: born in different countries, of different ethnic backgrounds, all providing inimitable, thought-provoking perceptions and observations about the people in the Alt-Right. It was evident to me that Davey strived to bring awareness to the racial climate that exists in America in the most accurate and truthful way. He took interest in knowing how we as a country were being affected by the current political and social atmosphere, and how we were individually impacted by the research we had gathered. In order to obtain our rawest re-actions and opinions about the subject matter, Davey had us participate in a series of improvisation exercises that often challenged us to imagine situations that were uncomfortable and dehumanizing. The most memorable activity was one where I was instructed to become a member of the Alt-Right. This task forced me to contradict my personal morals and beliefs because I had to fully adopt their ideologies, and use hurtful rhetoric and vulgar language in order to embody the characteristics of this extremist group.
My week in Scotland was unforgettable. I was surrounded by a group of artists who were interested in shining light on a movement that threatens the well-being of others. I am excited to continue working on the development of this play with the creative minds, passion, and talent of my fellow castmates and production team. Although the subject matter is disheartening, I am grateful to be a part of a company that will bring awareness to an extremist group that aims to threaten equality and incite fear, hatred, and violence into the minds and hearts of people. As we move forward, we will be asked to engage with uncomfortable material and scenarios; however, I am a firm believer that uncomfortable conversations are the ones that need to be discussed. I am optimistic that The Abode will spark necessary conversations, while simultaneously making people cognizant of a despairing truth.