meet the characters: The Star

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The Star, played by Shadrack. Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-up by Trixi Jones.

This is the energy of Neptune in astrology – exhaustion, letting go, unconditional love. This is The Star in Tarot and Letters to the Universe. 

Today, I am too tired not to believe.

Today, I am too drained to convince myself that it isn’t possible.

Today, it will take all of my energy to worry that I am not good enough, that I am broken, that I am damaged, that I am un-fixable, and I’m already running on an empty tank.

It takes too much effort, too much labour, to maintain a perspective that is built on a foundation of abuse.

I’m too worn for that.

The arduous task of making myself smaller, making myself fit into something that doesn’t belong to me…well, it’s hilariously impossible today.

It’s irrelevant today.

Today, nothing is true except for the fact that I get to have every ounce of respect, safety, and fulfillment I’ve ever needed, wanted, wished for.

I don’t have time for anything other than that.

My heart is too big, today.

meet the characters: The Siren

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Ravyn Wngz plays The Siren and is also the director of Letters to the Universe. Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-up by Trixi Jones.

This is the spirit of The Tower in Tarot. The spirit of The Siren in Letters to the Universe.

Give thanks to destruction. Give thanks to loss. Give thanks to loneliness. Give thanks to endings. Give thanks to the dark night of the soul. Give thanks to whoever and whatever had to leave so you could be a better version of yourself.

Give thanks to violence that made itself clear to you, so you would never once more confuse it with love.

Give thanks to the story you wrote from the place you have never been broken.

Give thanks to the same story that caused more pain than you could have ever imagined.

Give thanks to the story that set you free.

meet the characters: The Healer

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The Healer, played by Miranda Warner. Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-up by Trixi Jones.

A life infused with grief not a bad life. Grieve, just don’t wallow.

When things break or die, put them in the ground. Thank them for what was shared and what was learned. Allow time and space for ceremony, for tears, for sleep, for remembering. Let their life run through you, even after they’re gone. Repeat as much as necessary, and in non-linear time. Just don’t wallow in old bath-water. Luke-warm and steeped with dirt and crusty skin-flakes, serving no need other than to make you feel gross. There is a difference, find it.

Live a life with patience, just not waiting.

Waiting is hanging around for someone/thing to be something for you that it has no desire to be.

Patience is planting seeds from broken glass. Hands nurturing and cultivating new life in the earth, but not rushing the process. Patience is the gift and surprise of witnessing what sprouts into the sky, new love that is all at once familiar and brand new.

The path of a healing is a misunderstood and mysterious one. As if acts of grieving, patience, allowing, receiving, and witnessing could be done without a ferocity and superhuman strength. This is the Strength card in tarot, and the spirit of The Healer in Letters to the Universe.

meet the characters: The Warrior

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Sze-Yang Ade-Lam plays The Warrior and is also the Choreographer in Letters to the Universe. Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-up by Trixi Jones.

Heroes are not just born, we came here on a mission.

We have a job to do. Like slayers, chosen ones, witches, and watchers, we all have a calling. We reincarnated during this monumentally messed up time because the stakes are so high, we have a role to play in the apocalypse, and we’ll be damned before we sit out the fight.

But fighting is not just about the punches, kicks, training, skill, or physical strength. To truly be a hero requires a strength of spirit. A commitment to your mission, no matter what luck you did or didn’t inherit, or what privileges you did or didn’t earn. It all depends on how much you will give to your mission. Your purpose, your end game, your gift, your love.

This is the spirit of The Warrior in Letters to the Universe. Part of what it takes to write an epic tale about your life as a superqueero. This is the Sun in Tarot and Astrology. The Sun is Leo, our mission, our purpose, our ferocity, our love. Night, day, shadow, eclipse, and light.

meet the characters: The Conjurer

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The Conjurer played by Robin Akimbo. Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-up by Trixi Jones.

I once said to a wise mentor: “Yeah, I guess I just need to learn how to let go of control. I guess that’s my problem.” 

She replied: “Girl, don’t go there. As QTBIPOC/woc if we don’t take control of shit, we disappear. It’s not about letting go of control, just: get in control of your control issues.” 

This for us wild, boss, heroic, adventurous, too-much, too-weird, too-intense, too-big-4-ur-worldview, large and in charge unicorns. Being in full control of your control issues means knowing when to lead, when to follow, when to be still, when to race forward, when to listen, when to cuss someone out, when to receive, when to create, when to rest, when to let loose, when to reach out, when to set boundaries.

This is spell casting. Being honest with ourselves and infusing every step we take with intention and purpose. We have the power to create beauty from garbage, and manifest the life we want, individually and collectively.

This is The Magician in the Tarot and the spirit of The Conjurer in Letters to the Universe. This is part of what it takes to write a play from your heart. Know what spell you are casting with your story and don’t under-estimate your magic.

meet the characters: Premonition

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Spirit Guide, Premonition, played by Anabel Khoo. Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-up by Trixi Jones.

The thing you learn after a major loss or trauma, there are significant parts of your experience of it, and your journey out of it, in which you are completely alone.

Even if others have experienced the same/similar grief, even if others are equally impacted, even if support is given and received on the surface or in fragments…

There are parts of our experience that we fundamentally cannot share. We cannot help others or be helped.

The more we beg and plead for someone, anyone, “please witness this…please help me hold this…” 

…the more we learn that we don’t have anyone for those moments but ourselves.

This is sacred number 9. This is the spirit of The Hermit in the Tarot. This is the spirit of Premonition in Letters to the Universe. This is part of what it takes to write a play from your heart.

Embrace the grief, fear, and reward of not looking outward for answers. Lean into the openness and courage of understanding your own interiority. The interiority of your story.

It is letting that interiority love you better than anything else ever has or will. It is the journey of finding joy in your loneliness.

meet the characters: The Storyteller

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“The Storyteller” played by lead performer and playwright, Shaunga Tagore.  Photography by Maxwell Lander. Make-Up by Trixi Jones.

In March 2016 I visited NYC for the first time. Instead of visiting my family like they wanted me to, I said:

“Self – put yourself first this time. You’ve made lots of family trips over the last decade. Go have an adventure on your own instead.” 

A few days into that trip I got the news that my Dad was diagnosed with terminal Cancer. I went to the Brooklyn Bridge and I spoke to the Universe:

“Tell me. How do I get through this?” 

A voice in my head replied:

“Don’t be smaller than you are. Be as big as Broadway.”

Well, how the fuck does that help me?

(Pretty much my thought at the time…)

My Dad ended up passing away in May 2016. This was smack dab in the middle of the process of rehearsing for our first presentation of Letters to the Universe at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s annual Pride Festival (June 2016). I had no choice but to re-write the ending of the play to include my Dad’s death; to send him a goodbye letter.

In 2017 we have been delving back into the script for a second phase of development. We have been digging into the character and story arcs and coming up with exciting results. We are gearing up for a week-long performance run, September 14-17 at The Theatre Centre.

As time passes, little by little, one day at a time, I am learning what it means to live and love as big as Broadway.

A love so big it changes the Universe. This is the spirit of The Storyteller. This is what it takes to bring a play you wrote from your heart to life. It is to believe in the impossible.

Especially if you’re QTBIPOC; a survivor; funding is limited; you never had access to a lot of training; most of the time you don’t know What the Fucks You Are Doing; you’re a sensitive, traumatized, crazy emo femme who just doesn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings…and all the reasons we all know.

You have to believe you can Defy All That Gravity.

Be brave enough to talk to yourself and the Universe and say:

“I’m scared to trust you, but I will.”

Whatever your Mount Everest is, make a deal with the Universe to climb together. Be bigger than Broadway.