While theatre has been on pause, Mars Storm Rucker has pressed play on healing.
Before the theatre shutdown, Rucker made their mark with their high-octane energy and dynamic dance moves as Tina Turner’s sister Alline and an Ikette in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. As a Black non-binary artist, their performance was also significant for non-binary representation on Broadway, an industry which remains heavily rooted in a binary outlook on gender.
Not only did their presence inspire audience members while they were onstage, but the conversations Rucker had with the Tina creative team also inspired tangible change offstage. As they said in an interview with The Ensemblist, “Before the production started, I received a phone call from our stage manager asking what I needed to make the process most comfortable for me…When I stepped into the rehearsal room for the first time, the director and choreographer expressed to me that they were willing to learn and willing to have me call them out when they messed up or said something that made me uncomfortable.”
Now, Rucker is channeling their authenticity to provide a space of Black healing and Black joy in their upcoming EP, variations in green (produced by Cam Dasher and mastered by Hannah Jocelyn), which releases May 11. “I wrote the first song to this EP two years ago and sat on it,” says Rucker. “When spirit told me it was time, I expanded on that. I wrote a lot of these songs in isolation during COVID as a healing process for myself.”
Get to know Rucker in the Q&A below.
What project(s) are you working on currently?
I’m putting out my EP based in Black sound healing, based in ancestral conversation. The project is called variations in green. Each song sits under the umbrella of green based in my synesthesia. Green stands for healing, it stands for balance, for comfort. It stands for growth, and this project focuses on growth of the spirit. In addition to this, I’m working on creating a video based fashion show with a Black woman who creates clothes for marginalized bodies (Princess Victome). My music will be orchestrations that open up to a world of Black joy, Black peace, and Black fashion.
Where are you finding inspiration?
I’m finding inspiration from my people, from our strength, from Black trans creatives that find joy in a world set up for our sadness. I find inspiration from my ancestors. I am deeply spiritual. They speak to me at all times, lifting me, giving me guidance, teaching me grace. I find inspiration in rest.
How has your artistic credo evolved in the past year?
It’s evolved in that I am finally releasing music. In addition to being an actor, dancer, singer and auditioning/working, I stepped out on talents that I was afraid of. I was also born to make music. I was born to make healing music. It’s in my blood. I allowed myself to expand my talents and that has allowed me to fly!
What perspective do you bring to the artistic landscape?
I come from the lens of radical politic and centering the most marginalized folks in my work. Centering the healing of Black, Black fat, Black dark skin, Black trans and queer individuals whose healing aren’t thought of.
How do you navigate working in a field where you are constantly subject to critique?
I think it’s important to take things with a grain of salt and also analyze the politic in which people are critiquing you. Critique absolutely can be oppressive. But in the case that it isn’t, see how it can help you grow. If it’s not serving you, let it float away.
How do cultivate joy in your life when you’re not creating?
I find joy in my love life, in my beautiful lesbian relationship, amongst my Black trans and queer community, I find joy in fashion, and I find joy in being around other Black queer artists.
What do you want to bring to theatre when it returns?
I think it’s more what should theatre bring to Black trans people when it returns. I’ll bring me always. I’m not sure what theatre will bring.
Follow Rucker on Instagram.