June 2016 – NCF & Fresh Milk Emerging Director Residency Programme
Confident, 6ft 2, 175 pounds, Renelde Headley is set on world domination, with the power of Love and Creativity. Through singing, acting, dancing, directing and any other art form she chooses to master, she is determined to spread her message of empowerment and freedom worldwide. She cautions that “Freedom comes with the responsibility of being aware of others and their right/desire to be free. – Mankind must not lose his compassion.” She hopes that through her self-expression and work, she can share concepts that encourage others to embrace and unify their multifaceted selves.
“It is possible to be strong, no nonsense and sensitive all at once.” To this end she is often drawn to work that explores Identity – be it cultural, social, racial or personal. This because the various concepts of identity that exist, though constantly evolving or perhaps sharing similar elements, offer unique perspectives that inform the way the world functions: this, in turn, allows constant investigation and experimentation.
With her positive attitude, critical eye and arsenal of talents, Renelde will prove by example that being tough and sensitive don’t have to be juxtapositions. You can enjoy every minute of life just being yourself, once you “…know who you are and strive to be the best of who that is.”
My first week at Fresh Milk has been a welcomed respite from the hustle and bustle of the everyday. It was extremely encouraging to be in the company of fellow artists doing their art while, most importantly, doing my own. My view this week has been mostly of the Colleen Lewis Reading Room, which I must say is a very “bad” view to have, as I spent most of the week reading and perusing the library!
As I would sit and read a sampling of the books on culture and race as well as on theatre practice and directing styles, I’d often be able to look up and see Torika reading or tapping away at her computer and Anisah bent over her drawings and spy Katherine through the window working on the deck. Amidst working on our individual projects, the four of us would stop to have little conversations where we’d pick each other’s brains about various topics or just get to know each other a little better. This was very encouraging for me because it allowed me to think outside the confines of my field since they are all visual/fine artists.
My second and sad to say final week at Fresh Milk brought me outside a lot more. As I got more comfortable in the space I’d walk about and play with the puppies or eat snacks out on the deck as well as talk to Katherine, Anisah and Torika, when I needed to step away from the monotony of thinking. This week’s conversations included my hope that I’d hear a monkey on the roof, just once. At the same time, the studio was a hive of activity this week with presentations to UNESCO representatives being made by Katherine, Torika and Anisah and myself.
I spent most of my time delving into the script, conceptualising the work and all-round prepping to meet the actors, Shea Best and Teila Williams. When I met with them, we were off to a strong start discussing character development and the over-all themes and concept. We also were able to experiment with movement and investigate how that impacts/ strengthens a theatre piece.
Over-all the experience, though short, has been extremely rewarding. Having the chance to experience a programme that supports and allows you to investigate your art without the pressure of deadlines or “production” makes me feel like I’ll be a much stronger artist because of it.