Can you tell me how the title Lay Hold to the Softest Throat came about?

The title came a long time ago. It reminds me of something flowery from an ancient text. From another unspecified time that evokes a sort of mythology for me. The title refers to singing, to vulnerable expression; it’s connected to the heart, to the inside. We make strange sounds. The throat as an organ and as an object is strange. What does it mean to get soft, for the throat to soften? That’s probably one of the first questions I asked myself for this project.

What if my throat were soft? What if I allow myself to share something emotional? It’s as if at some point it seemed impossible for me, in contemporary dance, to express a kind of earnestness, except subversively (as protection?). Anyways, I had also realized that I stopped singing for several years and was actually terrified to use my voice — some early-twenties perfectionism rearing its head or something — and it connected to this moment of encountering Grotowski.

Thankfully, since seeding this project in 2018–19, and certainly since collaborating with Malik Nashad Sharpe the last many years, the stage has felt more and more like a “yes space” where almost anything can happen, and the question of what’s good or bad, in or out, has in many ways fallen away.


What interested you about reviving the work of Jerzy Grotowski? What’s your position vis-à-vis that master director?

I wanted to go back to Grotowski, not as academic research or even archivally, but to what his work had activated in me. What interested and excited me was a connection to the sacred, to this “holy actor” and, at the time, the asceticism of his work pulled me as well. The latter had a kind of perverse effect. What I retained from his approach is a desire to connect to what is deemed essential.

But implicit in that desire was also getting rid of what is deemed “nonessential”. So, as I reopened up my relationship to my voice, I also wanted to go back and fold myself again into his words-world, but this time without the violence of trying to purify or eradicate any part of me or anyone else. I feel really tender about it. The “sacred actor” needed to become a sacred swamp monster.

It’s important for me to mention that I don’t take a critical stance against his work, as I have only associatively engaged it. Rather, I am asking myself what my fascination at the time precluded me from understanding until I really came into my whole self, imperfect as ever. And it’s super fun to intentionally relish in and be inspired by the aesthetic drama of his early directing.


The text takes up a fair bit of space. How was it created?

Grotowski was a master of theatre, which I definitely am not. But there was a desire to write a play together and to “act” together, to play the expert. We wrote a text. It’s a surreal text, made of associations, ideas. There’s no explicit logic to it — or rather, Romy, Alanna, and I likely have differing ideas of what these logics could be.

I like when things don’t fit together, but are stuck side by side. I love a paradox with no resolve. What’s important to me is that everything I consider sacred is part of the piece, whether it’s complexity, multiplicity, depth, disgust, absurdity, the underworld, paradise, harmony, dissonance.


Lay Hold to the Softest Throat evokes our relationship to the mysterious. Can you tell us more about the sharing we’re being invited into?

I guess there is a desire for the audience to happen upon a world that feels unplaceable. Like we don’t know exactly where we are or what’s going on. This could sound like a power move between the stage and the audience, but that’s not what I’m interested in; I mean evoking a feeling of not knowing that might lend itself to anticipation or a suspension of expectations. The feeling of watching a banal accident, a naive ritual, or someone emphatically lip-syncing not knowing that you’re watching. The place of both real alchemy and oblivious cringe.

You’re invited into a kind of embarrassing honesty, which is a value I associate with discovery and play — both qualities inherent to the meeting place between where the worlds of children and chaos and the worlds of adult responsibility and care collide. We’re in an imaginary space as much as we are in the theatre, and sometimes the piece bottoms out and we’re nowhere, in the sacred trash can.