Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Practivist of the Week - E. Amato

Practivist of the Week - E. Amato

[Editor's note: E. Amato would like you to know that she is the editor of Zestyverse in the interests of full disclosure!]

How old are you, if you don't mind?

What is the main focus of your practivism at this time and how does that manifest? 

The main focus of my practivism at this time is creating live performance events that promote diversity, sustainability, and connection. After over a decade of promoting and producing events, I have begun to percolate a formula that allows maximum connection with the audience and sustainability for artists, audience, organizers and community. As a promoter and producer, I have always made sure there is parity on my stages between genders, orientation, age, ability, ethnicity, etc. In my time promoting, I have seen this parity decrease elsewhere. The lack of women on festival stages this past season has been well-documented, for example. My practivism is refocused on this issue for my own events, as I find it has renewed importance.

In 2013, I did an event called Secret Door featuring poets and musicians. It was in a tiny space that we designed specifically for the event. The evening took on a life of its own - the barrier between artist and audience erased itself and collaborations formed. This model has wider applications and can be partnered with community needs to develop audiences, spaces and creative relationships in ways that are financially sustainable. In order to learn and experiment more, I've accepted a place in the MFA, Creative Producing program at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. In order to get there, I still need financial support, so I've begun a crowd fund to help.

What route did you take to get here?

The longest possible one! I began as a performer, who decided to direct. I've always written. I went into film production, which gave me a huge amount of down time between jobs as well as a strong sense of things being far too big and taking far too long. The combination of these led me - indirectly, of course - to get on stage and read some of my poems. I loved the immediacy and the audience being right in front of me instead of in a a darkened movie theatre 24 months from now. This led to a B-career as a performance poet. With the organizational skills I had from production and my voice as a poet, many encouraged me to start my own venue. My unpredictable work schedule made me start with one-off events that I knew I could actually attend! This led to hosting,then a monthly venue, and the Fringe Festival, Edinburgh, among other things. Now I had three full-time careers! I did this for about ten years. Then I fell. My body did not bounce back - my resilience was worn out. I had a vision of what I wanted to build, but I did not have the strength, focus, or resources. It was frustrating and even debilitating in its own right. Getting back on my feet was a lot of work - I'm not sure I'm even all the way there, yet.

But there was also inner work to do - did I still have the commitment to the vision I had before everything went so wrong? I knew that in order to achieve this goal of the MFA and building a creative entrepreneurship I need more than one  hundred percent commitment. I felt sparks, but I knew sparks weren't enough. I continued to self care and meditate, stretch and strengthen. 

Eventually a flashpoint showed up - that place where I had to commit or choose another path. I knew that this was not a dream I could let go. I embraced with the strength that I had, but I knew I'd need to create community support around me to fully enable this vision. 

This is a great way to start this journey, as I feel sustainable arts require community involvement and collective choice-making. The entertainment industry's practices lag far behind where we actually are in 2015. In order to move them into the world we are living in, we have to move away from a hierarchical and pedagogical model of taste and presentation and towards one that will engage people viscerally. People need strong engagement now to counter the large amounts of time we spend partially engaged through our devices or altogether disengaged. 

I hope I've answered the questions! i'm so used to being the one asking! If you're a Zesty fan, a fan of any of my work or just stopping by and like the sound of all this, you can support by donating, sharing or just sending great energy! Thank you!


Laura Bernstein said...

So excited to see where your journey takes you next!

E. Amato said...

Thank you!!!!! Me, too!