“Someone complimented me on my English last summer. This was my response.”

This is a new performance piece I wrote for the VASTA Cabaret in London this summer at my alma mater, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. I workshopped it at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, which I am quite proud to say that I am now summer faculty there, teaching Voice and Speech.

This piece has lived in me for over a year now, as the actual incident that opens the performance happened during the summer of 2013 in Brooklyn. I felt like it was important to highlight the idea that oppression does not come in only explicit, hateful forms but from the educated and millennial peers that I hang out and work with in my progressive circles.

When microaggressions happen, I don’t always want to confront the person and give them some diatribe about social justice; sometimes, I just want to drink my fucking cocktail. Storytelling and performance allow me to express all the things I think and feel in that moment when I was made to feel small. And hopefully, I can share it with more people this way and they will be more open to seeing their own complicity in these structures because performance leads to a type of distanced perspective that gives us more space to reflect.

A number of people have asked me what my process is for creating this type of work. For this piece in particular, I allowed it to sit in me for many months, not putting anything on paper. A month or so before Perry-Mansfield, I made a basic Mind Map of major milestones that I wanted to cover. Then I began to look up songs and lyrics to see how I could weave them into my stories.

After over a year of blogging about voice and identity and culture and social justice and theatre, it is wonderful to create something that is exactly the thing I’d find online and want to post about anyway. I’m grateful to my Hofstra, Seoul, Perry-Mansfield, and VASTA families for all their support through this process.

3 thoughts on ““Someone complimented me on my English last summer. This was my response.”

  1. Reblogged this on Red Thread Broken and commented:
    I’ve been asked by nosy women, “How long have you been studying English?” and by airport security, padding me down, “Excuse me, do you speak a little bit of English?” Obviously, the airport isn’t the place to get into a conversation about race, privilege, and power, so I just say yes and go along with it. Even though I remain silent, it doesn’t mean the words don’t hurt. These words are a recurring reminder that I am seen as a perpetual foreigner in my country of citizenship, the country in which I was raised, and the country I love and call home.

  2. Reblogged this on breathetocreate and commented:
    Always thinking about voice and identity… take a watch/listen of Amy Ginther performing in Central School of Speech and Drama in London at the Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association annual conference this past summer.

  3. Amy, What a heart- and gut-wrenching, beautifully raw and real piece. Keep telling your story. It resonates in so many directions! A pebble–or a nice large rock–dropped into the pond of human communication to rip out and make waves of deeper awareness and connection.

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