The theatre artists behind Experimental Bitch Presents knew exactly what they were doing when they named themselves. A feminist producing organization committed to badly behaved, genre-defying performance by womxn+, the company is re-claiming the title. By blowing up the barriers surrounding femininity, feminism and the hierarchies within sexuality and gender, EBP asks us to celebrate, and love, the bitch within us all.
This year, EBP launched its first Bitchin' Collabs Residency, a year-long developmental residency exclusively devoted to works-in-progress by emerging femme artists of color. COVID-19 hit during the program's earliest stages, and EBP pivoted to working with its six inaugural residents—Amara J. Brady, Aizzah Fatima, Santiago Iacinti, Non Kuramoto, Synead Cidney Nichols and Julie Piñero—online.
On August 5, the company will celebrate the summer cohort of residents (made up of Brady, Fatima, and Piñero) and their work with a virtual share night. Free to attend (a donation of $10 is suggested), the event will offer a look the artists' current work, followed by a live discussion with residency curator Miranda Haymon.
"The Bitchin’ Collabs residency program was created to provide an accessible outlet for emerging BIPOC artists to experiment with hybrid forms and to offer audiences an exclusive look into the artistic process," shares Wednesday Sue Derrico, EBP's founding executive director.
"Our season theme, Intergenz, is a season exploring intergenerational art and legacy, with aims to intentionally expand our notion of 'emerging,'" says EBP's artistic director Tatiana Baccari. "We have witnessed a shortage of opportunities for BIPOC & QTPOC femme emerging artists in theatre and performance. This residency, and the EBP mission, aims to provide artistic and producing support to these kinds of artists."
Ahead of the August 5 event, we chat to BC's summer cohort about their works in development, what's driving them as artists, and who inspires them.
Name: Amara J. Brady
Title of the work in development: (poor+virgin) Apocalypse
What is it? A young woman's refusal to face the end of the world without getting laid.
The thing that got me started on this project was: My own reckoning with my anxiety telling me that this was the end and all the things I hadn't accomplished that I so desperately wanted to (like getting laid lol). Also forcing me to reckon with my own internalized fatphobia and all the reading I was doing of adrienne maree brown's Pleasure Activism and listening to Audre Lorde's Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power on repeat.
It's something that I hope makes you... laugh. That's what I want. Times are tough and laughter is what keeps me going, so that's what I want for other people as well.
Something that drives me in my creative work is: The lack of progress I see in our field. If I saw stories like the ones I tell and the people I center, I'd likely sit down.
I'm drawn to art that... is about Black women being loved on and/or learning to love themselves.
A creative question I'm currently wrestling with right now is: What is all this worth. I feel like I've historically given up a lot of myself as an intern, in arts admin, etc. and other things that have been harmful for me, for the sake of building relationships and it never pans out. I did what I was told to do and I'm still getting f*cked over. So I'm trying to figure out what world I can exist in that doesn't feel painful or spiteful, where I'm not so jealous of the success of my friends or peers.
Artists that influence me or whose work I just love: Comedy: Ziwe, Dick Van Dyke. Art: Kehinde Whiley, Spunk Rock, Mikael Owunna. Music: Be Steadwell, L'ogan & the Joneses, Nygel Robinson (also a collaborator on this project), Rosehardt, Mal Devisa, Hozier. Writing: adrienne maree brown, Audre Lorde, Bell Hooks, Walter Kerr, Gina Femia, Marcus Gardley, Aleshea Harris. TV: Random Acts of Flyness, Insecure, Chewing Gum, I May Destroy You.
Name: Julie Piñero
Title of the work in development: Delejos (from afar)
What is it? Delejos is a digital solo show (performed live via Zoom) where I take you on a multi-media journey through my grief after the tragic and unexpected loss of my partner, Jose. It weaves together storytelling, stand-up comedy, live music, and a virtual reality simulation to explore the idea of loss as an experience fundamental to the identity of Latinxs in the U.S.—and showcases what we make from it.
The thing that got me started on this project: A tragedy so unexplainable that I had to invent my own way of explaining it in order to stay afloat.
It's something that I hope makes you... Break all the rules when the sacred rules of your own existence are broken. I hope it makes you explore the surreal sense of possibility that arises when your world is turned upside down. "Hmmm... now that all my furniture is on the ceiling, maybe I can..." *feverishly paints chandelier onto coffee table*
Something that drives me in my creative work is: The idea of continuing my creative partnership with Jose. He (a virtual reality video game designer) and I (a writer and comedian) were creative collaborators (we were starting a band!) and together, we still have so much left to say.
I'm drawn to art that.... Doesn't really fit within the format that people expect it to.
A creative question I'm currently asking myself right now is: How can I make work that energizes my audience in this moment of such collective grief?
Artists that influence me or whose work I just love: Baited by Ziwe, Noname's Twitter feed, Walter Mercado's Legacy, Feel Good, Ramy and Never Have I Ever have been some of my favorite TV shows this year,and I'm also pretty smitten by Love Island Season 5.
Name: Aizzah Fatima
Title of the work in development: Google, It's Complicated!
What is it? It started off as a play, but is turning into something that might live digitally. It's a way for me to make sense of my family's migration from India to Pakistan, then again to the U.S., and all of our collective life experiences that have led me to where I am today as an artist.
The thing that got me started on this project was: My real life experiences working at the tech giant Google, and my struggles with what it means to be an empowered woman even when I live in a country that has yet to pass the equal rights amendment.
It's something that I hope makes you... Laugh a little while reflecting on your own history.
Something that drives me in my creative work is: Sharing the remarkable and untold stories of men and women who are never shown as three-dimensional people in the media we consume.
I'm drawn to art that... Lives at the nexus of social justice and comedy.
A creative question I'm currently wrestling with is: How can I create a satisfying theatre experience for audiences on Zoom?
Artists that influence me or whose work I just love: Right now I'm loving Hannah Gadsby, Michaela Coel, and the creators of Pen15, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle. It's as if they took my entire eighth grade experience, and made a TV show out of it.
Experimental Bitch Presents is led by Artistic Director Tatiana Baccari and Founding Executive Director Wednesday Sue Derrico. Miranda Haymon is the Bitchin’ Collabs curator and Alisha Bhowmik is the virtual technical producer. Learn more about the company here.