MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'm Molly and you're listening to Any Other Anything's?
So, Dienae welcome to Any Other Anything's?
MOLLY: Hi, would you like to start with a bit of a check-in and an introduction?
DIENAE: Yeah that sounds good. Um, so my name is Dienae. I use they/them pronouns. I have a background in dance but, my current creative practice is mostly performance-art-dance-theater type-stuff and I've been doing stuff with Grey Box for two years now, I think about two years.
DIENAE: Um, and then how much like check-in wise, I'm doing good. I worked all day uh, but from home so I'm pretty chill and I'm excited for dinner later. How are you Molly?
MOLLY: Um, I'm doing well thank you. I had a liner before this, so I might do a part two to that later. Um, but yeah doing all right. It's been a lot of adulting and, so I have that like fatigue that comes with having to do grown-up things but. necessary things. Um, would you like to lead us through a grounding activity and a warm-up or share your favorites?
DIENAE: Yeah let me think about that. I don't know if I've prepared enough. Um, I guess a grounding-like breathing exercise that I like to do a lot is just square breathing so, when you like to trace a rectangle with your eyes and you like breathe in on like the short ends and you hold on the long ends. So we could do that, if you want?
MOLLY: Yeah walk us through that.
DIENAE: Cool. So I'm going to use my laptop screen as my rectangle so, I'm going to trace up the left side with my eyeballs while I inhale. And, then I'll trace across the top edge while I hold that inhale and then when I get to the other corner I'll trace down the right side of the screen while I exhale and then I'd hold my exhale while I trace across the bottom of the screen and now I'm just doing it again with less talking because it's hard to breathe and hold my breath and talk. So, that's like an exercise that I like to do, like a little breathing thing.
MOLLY: Yeah and I really I appreciate it being like with the screen too since we're on it so often right now. Um, and I recently heard someone talk about like slowing how we look with our eyes uh and imagining like a little ladybug walking and we just follow it. So, I just I just took a ladybug for a walk around my screen so thank you for that.
DIENAE: Oh that's so nice. I like that. Um, and then like a warm up so I guess movement wise. I like that from the very beginning I start with like my spine, so I do a lot of like, um I don't know I have tension my shoulders so I do a lot of like like really like concave in the belly kind of like circular motions and, then I'll like hold on like a side and get the stretch in my like armpit-torso area. It's crazy, because when I was like a kid doing dance I never felt these side stretches and I was like why is the future have me do this stuff that doesn't feel like anything but, the older I get the more tension I get in like my torso-area and it is a stretch.
MOLLY: That's so real.Um, thank you for that. My back appreciates you very much, as is my neck and shoulders; wonderful. Um, thank you for sharing those and leaving us through the little little crumbs of grounding and warm-ups, um would you maybe talk a little bit more about your involvement with Grey Box Collective over the past few years?
DIENAE: Yeah. So, the first thing I did with Grey Box Collective was It's Not That Simple 2018, and I don't remember which iteration of It's Not That Simple that was.
MOLLY: Uh technically four, but we'll go with that, yeah.
DIENAE: Cool. Yeah so it was the fourth run of that show um, and it was a pretty like rapid fire rehearsal process we put together the entire show in what like three four months or something um..
DIENAE: ...so yeah.
MOLLY: It might have been less than that. I think it might have been like eight weeks.
DIENAE: Maybe, it was. I'm just like yeah sugar coating in my memory um it was like really speedy and our rehearsals were really long and twice a week and it was just like a really intense process but really good. Um, I was definitely in like a time of my life where I needed a lot of rehearsal time to like you know deal with my life stuff that was going on, so I really appreciated having like um this regular space to be creative with other creatives and also the rehearsal process was so like um, it was difficult because the subject matter is difficult, because it's about rape culture and all that kind of stuff. But, um the group that like the cast working with and then you. When you were directing it felt really like gentle and like um, uh safe, you know. So it's just like a nice, it was nice to be able to like get out and be around other people for like a lot of hours per week knowing that we were all working towards like a shared goal and that we all had like the best interests of the others in mind. Does that make sense? That was rambly.
MOLLY: Yeah, no I appreciate rambling. Go for it.
DIENAE: Yeah. So, then...
MOLLY: Yeah you're going, go for it.
DIENAE: Yeah, yeah so that was the first thing um and then after that I think the next thing I did was an excerpt performance of um the show about the shame.
MOLLY: Yes, yeah Fool Me Once...Fool Me Twice at the conference.
DIENAE: Yeah, yeah. That little excerpt performance, um , I think it was we performed it like a child's play right in that building.
DIENAE: So that was really fun and I really enjoyed that experience because I remember I like saw that show before it was taken to the Fringe Festival in Colorado, right?
DIENAE: I remember watching it and being like 'oh this is so rad' like, Grey Box like this continues to be like cool and, interesting to me and this work is cool and, interesting to me and, it was really fun to get to like try that movement and text and like vibe on, even if it was like again like a short rehearsal process and like a short show excerpt that we did.
MOLLY: Yeah, yeah it was. But still one of like my favorite clips is your um interpretive dance of the menstrual cycle.
DIENAE: Yeah whenever, if I can make fun of a concert dance like I'm having a good time.
DIENAE: Yeah that was fun and, then after that I think is when started um the the director like a three-step phase thing where it was like the new director series right and then...
MOLLY: Yeah it's gone through several names, but yeah.
DIENAE: Yeah, yeah so that's when I started like um creating and like directing works of my own. Um, and in that period I've done two iterations of Thanks For Tuning In and Please Stop Staring or whatever the title is it's like some of those words and maybe, more and maybe, less. But, the two versions of that show um which was like kind of my first like stepping into of like um, really playing around with like set design and like um using like the technology of available in performance. And then, most recently I like directed, co-directed performed in um a piece called asses and seats and that was a show that we did over Zoom. Um and I was like I think Grey Box Collectives first like a virtual show in the age of COVID, right?
MOLLY: Yeah, yeah you've had like a lot of really pivotal Grey Box show moments over the years. The year, all two of them. But, yeah I think I'd like to to talk more about Thanks For Tuning In um from the first iteration to the second one. Both of them like heavily influenced with technology, um before it was like the thing that we had to do um and could you talk through kind of the setup for each of those and the evolution of the technology component?
DIENAE: Yeah, so the first iteration um which that was done in like May 2019, right?
DIENAE: Yeah sets on that one for you but, that was um had a cast of two people um and one of the artists was performing on the stage in the artist box and then the other artist was performing in the bathroom of the artist box and we were seeing her perform via Instagram live so, we had one like actually live performer like you could see her in the flesh in front of you and then the other performer you could only see like through your phone like you have to go to Instagram like open up the live stream that she was doing over that app. Um yeah and that's how that was formatted.
DIENAE: Do you actually want me talk any more about that? Or...
MOLLY: Maybe, just in like how did you-you started there, how did you come up with that? I don't think I actually know that. How did you decide to have one performer in the bathroom on Instagram um and then one performer live?
DIENAE: I think the main reason I made that choice was because like it was really hard to plan a rehearsal schedule with everybody, like all three of us.
DIENAE: Yeah, so I started out being like okay, well I guess I'll like rehearse with like you on Tuesdays and, you on like Thursdays or whatever, and maybe we'll meet someday at one point. Um, but I was actually gonna try to like have it be like more like a traditional performance where they're both on the stage together you know um, but like the more we did that and it was it was pretty quick into the process where I was like this isn't working um but, I realized I was like this isn't gonna work. They can't perform together if they've never ever like rehearsed together, which isn't like a you can't ever do that, you know. Like, I know lots of people do shows like that all the time, but um it's not what I wanted and I was trying to like find like a different way to have them perform like together, but in a way that wouldn't feel so like rushed at the end, like okay and then you like touch arms and then you're like crossing over, you know.
DIENAE: So I was trying to get around the fact that we couldn't rehearse together, so I figured if we can't rehearse together they'll just perform separately and then finally like the way to like bring in the separate player the audience. This is where I came to up with the Instagram live idea, because we all have our phones, you know.
DIENAE: So, yeah if she's on the phone we can see her.
MOLLY: That's great! I had no idea that was the actual like place where that idea began, um and what a happy accident especially, like as it evolved into the second iteration. You want to talk through that evolution?
DIENAE: Yeah. Yeah, so just to go back to what you were saying that is like where it began was just me being like well we can't rehearse together you know like I didn't make the decision to be like I want to do a piece with technology. Um, and I wouldn't, because I'm deeply uncomfortable with most technology. Like, that headset I couldn't begin to tell you why it didn't work and how it could work. Um, but yeah so then the next iteration came with a bunch more technology that I didn't understand, but I just um I moved up from like having two formers to three performers and I wanted to keep the same kind of theme of having just one performer on the stage. Um, so then I had to find two like separate areas for the other two to go. I also to find two separate ways of streaming in for the other two to like be visible to the audience and that's where like the different technologies and screens came into play so like, um two computer screens, I think. I think there was like a like a laptop screen like a computer monitor and then two tv screens, I think and then there was um a projected image onto like the duvet cover that I'm sitting on right now actually.
MOLLY: [LAUGHS] That's great.
DIENAE: So, there are all those screens and then there's also like a moment where the audience is prompted to open up their phones to go to Instagram to watch Preston. Um, yeah so that's what that like ramping up looks like and like since I'm so um, trying to learn but like not so savvy with technology. Um, I also recruited a friend of mine, Sophia, to be like the set designer like tech-manager person and she was like so helpful and like such an important part of the process, because she was able to like hear what I was saying with my jumbled words and incorrect terminology and she's able to like draw out like a set, like she's like, 'okay I think what you're saying is you want these screens here and this screen over there to have that happen we have to have these chords in these places' and that was just like a blessing.
DIENAE: I couldn't have done it without her.
MOLLY: Yeah. I remember you'd ask me like what kind of technology do we have in inventory and I was like here are the pictures of the things that we have, uh here are the different ends of the plugs, and I don't know how they all go together. Um, so I-I feel that um I also say like I don't think I realized that you felt uncomfortable with technology or that because, I think of like how you've worked the Zoom performances um, and just like completely rocked at them you seem so comfortable with technology. So there's a there's whatever you're doing for that like you're you're faking it well or whatever, um...
DIENAE: Thank you.
MOLLY: ...you seem very drawn to it.
DIENAE: Yeah it's super fun I think it's really interesting to look at and play with, and I think what you might be seeing is just me being um curious about like what's possible with Zoom. Um, so like I'm like playing around with settings and stuff and seeing what kind of like cool creative things come out of it but like I couldn't connect this Zoom call to like the tv out there I don't know how to do that.
DIENAE: So like functional things that would be helpful to my roommates I don't know how to do it.
MOLLY: [LAUGHS] Awesome! Um, since you're talking about Zoom let's just go right into the Zoom performance.
MOLLY: Yeah just like it was almost exactly a year after the original iteration of um, Thanks For Tuning In.
DIENAE: Yeah so that one was called asses and seats. Molly reached out to like everyone at Grey Box I think to be like 'hey let me know if you're interested in doing like a virtual performance' and I was interested um and the original like intention was to have like a third iteration of Thanks For Tuning In, that like theme stuff. Um, but then once we got into like the rehearsal process um it's like other things that we were interested in that weren't related to like kind of like the themes and ideas behind those other shows, you know. Also, I think an important part of the Thanks For Tuning In series thing, is um having like the one live person you know and having it'd be like an option to see these other screens of the other performers, but so that doesn't fully like align with like the capabilities of Zoom, you know. So, it just became totally different um and it was fun because I took on like a performer role, as well as like a director-e role um, yeah so that change is also nice.
MOLLY: Yeah like even though technically asses in seats has a different name than like, Thanks For Tuning In and Please Stop Staring. I think he like added an exclamation point, at one point one of the iterations has the exclamation point and one doesn't. I don't know which one's which.
DIENAE: Yeah. There's I don't know it's like Thanks For Tuning In, Tune Into My Live Stream, Stop Staring, there's like those phrases.
MOLLY: Oh that's what that was.
DIENAE: Yeah they sound so similar but, they are different and yeah. Even when we were rehearsing and like doing the run I like got the names wrong, so...
DIENAE: ...like you know, 'so that show we're doing.'
MOLLY: Yeah. Thanks For Tuning In um, so could you talk about the journey of the content, like we've talked about form now with with technology? Um that's just things that be our lives right now. Um, but could you also talk about the evolution of the content from all three of those performances?
DIENAE: Yeah, yeah totally. So, um the first two performances that we're talking about like the, Thanks For Tuning In, Tune Into My Live Stream, Stop Staring those two shows um, the theme behind those was about like um the idea of like surveillance and um being visibly queer in public and um kind-of like the what it is like navigate the public areas as like a visibly queer person but, also like how it feels to like have to do that, if that makes sense?
DIENAE: Yeah I guess some just like key words out of that are just like surveillance, queer, public. Um, yeah so those pieces are kind of trying to show just like um the audience like the feeling of being surveilled slash um being the surveiller. Um, and then the second iteration of it obviously like developed the idea more and there I kind of...Um oh sorry to go back the first iteration was kind of like, like the aesthetic was kind of like pool beach going summertime, you know. So we were in like...
MOLLY: That flamingo thing.
DIENAE: Yeah, yeah so the performers were like in swimsuits and like beach hats and there's like this blow up like um lounge chair thing that we had on the stage. Um, and that was because I think like beaches and pools and anywhere with swimsuits is like a pretty like hot spot for is it visibly queer like especially, trans-people to feel like really like watched and monitored and like evaluated. Um, and then the next iteration we kept a little bit of like that pool theme we had we were wearing like swimsuits and there was a lot of sunscreen involved at one point, um and then I also brought in the setting of like the airport you know like TSA-security.
DIENAE: Because that's you know another place where like visibly queer and trans people especially go through a lot of like heavy monitoring and heavy like evaluation and, you know can you step aside I gotta pat you down because, there's something in the exit that doesn't match what I thought you should have, you know, so. That's the theme and content in those shows and then for asses and seats. Um, it was an all queer cast again um this time was an all trans-cast which was super exciting all non-binary cast. Um, and in this one our the content matter was less around like um being like monitored and watched but more around like um like we kind of stepped into the role of the watcher so, we were like watching each other through the screen and then um thinking about like how connection happens through a screen um, and also how we like continue developing our identities and how we feel about ourselves through a screen um, because we're seeing ourselves a lot more and like hearing ourselves a lot more with like the feedback of like the Zoom calls. So that was the content for that.
MOLLY: Yeah it's kind of wild that it has ended for now. Um, pause for now, maybe. Uh you started with this very like what is it to be in public and then ultimately ended up in these very private spaces of bedrooms. Um, which I-I don't think I quite saw that evolution until like you really set it up in that way. So then how content generation wise, like your creative process, obviously the screen feels like a little bit of an outlier in terms of creating on on Zoom but, as you went into the rehearsal spaces did that process change? And, evolve as well?
DIENAE: Did it change from like in person rehearsals to Zoom rehearsals or from like show one to show two to show three?
MOLLY: That one.
DIENAE: The second one? Okay.
DIENAE: Cool, yeah. So, um the first show I did um the performers girl that I like knew pretty well and like had close relationships with outside of like performing art like spaces, so those rehearsals were like pretty casual they usually happened at my house, um and yeah it was like a really casual environment. And, then the content generation I used for that was a lot of like um using gestures which I learned from you and It's Not That Simple rehearsal process. So asking the artists to come up with like different gestures in response to like, like what gestures would you make when you're feeling uncomfortable in public or what gestures that you make when you are feeling comfortable in public and, then like what gestures you make when you're feeling comfortable in private. So I use a lot of gesture work especially, in that first process. Um, and then I also did a few interviews with people so I interviewed the two artists that are performing and I also interviewed Lizbet, who's another Grey Box artist. Um, and we were talking about like their experience as being queer in public and like what safety feels like, what being watched feels like, um so I used that interview material and I like pulled some words from there and those words um, I used some of them to create movement and then I also used some of them just as text in the piece. So there was a part where Haley was like ripping out magazine pages and the magazine pages had like um big black letters of that said like self-expression, like gender identity or like that kind of thing. Um, and it took forever to write and fill in um but yeah so that's where like those words came from is the interview process. And, then with the second project or the second show I was working with artists that I like was familiar with but like didn't know very well yeah or like knew less well, you know.
DIENAE: Um, and that was really fun too because, I got to like get to know people through the creative process which was cool and then there I-I used gestures again so, I use gestures like um, like how do you interact with your phone when you like see something you don't like, or like what if you see something that you are really interested in. So, kind of like micro gestures like interacting with like your head and like your hand I also asked the artist to like um walk across the room like you're staring at someone across the street and like walk across the room like you're the one being stared at so, that's where some of that movement came from. And, then what else did I do? Oh I also like um like miming for like a base content generation source so I would ask the performers to be like pretend like you're going through airport security and like do all the motions that you would do when you're like taking off your shoes and like doing the arm lifting thing and stuff um and then taking that like string of like movements that's pretty like pedestrian and like um literal and, then just like massaging it and like play doing it by like speeding it up or slowing it down or making it bigger or like um louder or flingier. I love to make things flinger.
DIENAE: That's an important editing tool for me.
MOLLY: [LAUGHS] Always or is that like something that's relatively new?
DIENAE: Um, I think as long as I've been interested in like creating things, I've been I've liked flinging things.
MOLLY: That's great.
DIENAE: Yeah I took a I went to like the salt dance intensive at the U of U in like 2016. And, that was like a pretty formative summer for me of like coming into like my identity and being confident and creating things that felt like true to me and not just like, um true to what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Um, yeah it was a good summer. But, one of the classes I took as part of the intensive was called Hot Mess with Alex Cudding, and it was such a transformative experience um the it was about just kind of like getting as ugly and weird and unappealing and aesthetically gross as possible. And, then like pulling out pieces from that like content generation that can then be used for like something you actually want to show people.
MOLLY: Love it!
MOLLY: We need more of that.
DIENAE: Oh it was so much fun!
MOLLY: Yeah, that sounds like great.
DIENAE: I loved the whole show of that.
MOLLY: Oh yeah. Mm-hmm.
DIENAE: Like, diving in just stays ugly.
MOLLY: Yeah and like great title for a workshop.
DIENAE: Ooh yeah that was fun.
MOLLY: Yeah. Um, okay so there's lots of flinginess coming into play um from like making the airport gestures more flingy. I see that now it makes a lot of sense. Um, so then what did that process look like? Also, I'd say like it is a bit of a pivot to go into a process thinking it's the third iteration of a show you've done, I mean we should just clarify like when we say multiple iterations it, essentially feels like an evolution or it's never just re-staging anything. It's not a copy paste it's, it's a basically a new show um with like prior research done. Um, so back we go um going into a rehearsal process thinking it's third iteration of something you've done and then shifting it um what really gave you that impulse of this needs to this seems to be something that it wasn't originally intended to be?
DIENAE: Yeah it was pretty pretty quick into the process that I realized that it just came out of like um I was asking questions of the cast, um and what was coming out of it like the things that were related to like the content matter around the first two shows was just not nearly as interesting as like the content matter that was coming out that wasn't related, you know.
MOLLY: Ooh okay.
DIENAE: So it was just a matter of like um this is not interesting over this medium and this is interesting over this medium and I'm like gesturing to do two different sides. I realized podcasts are not a visual medium but, I...
MOLLY: Dance problems. Um, yeah. Um, okay yeah so then it must have been pretty early on what were some of the questions if I may ask um if you care to answer. What were some of the questions or indicators that came up for you?
DIENAE: Yeah I don't think I could like reset the question verbatim or anything but some of the questions are things like, how do you like, how do you perceive the way you're perceived, if that makes sense?
DIENAE: So, like how are you internalizing the ways that other people may understand you but, also recognizing that like how you think someone understands you is fully your own like projection of what you think of yourself, you know. Um, so that was kind of trying to like get to the bottom of the question of like being in public and being seen and judged and stuff. Um, but I think through that question kind of like that journey I took with the question just now was where I was like, oh like what I think somebody else thinks of me says a lot more about me than about them, because I don't I can't remind you know so like I'm just like having my own judgment of myself but I've been applying to them and, then yeah. So that's kind of where the the personal came in and how this um, yeah. So that's how it kind of turned into like a more like personal thing versus like a public thing so how do you like see yourself in the privacy of your own home, how do you see yourself in a Zoom call, yeah. So that's kind of like where that shift happened. Did that answer the question or make any sense at all?
MOLLY: It made sense. I don't I don't know if it answered the question, it was great.
MOLLY: Um I worry less about the answers to questions and more about just like the content as a whole which I think is quite interesting. Um, so then thinking of of your time with Grey Box Collective and the work that you've created um, what what have you really valued about those performances um or experiences or the humans you've you've been working with?
DIENAE: Well that's a big question!
MOLLY: I know.
DIENAE: Yeah. Oh my goodness a lot of things um I mean I really value like the collective part of Grey Box Collective, you know. Like, the team feeling like the family feeling um, so I really value like the relationships I've built. So, whether it's as a cast member and It's Not That Simple like as a director for the shows that I've done. Just like getting to know and get close to other artists who are doing work that I find really cool and interesting and important. That's something I value a lot. Um, and I also really value like the development opportunities you know so going from a performer to a director has been really fun and, like challenging and rewarding so getting to like um...push myself to like have my own ideas and like bring those ideas to life, has been really...cool. Couldn't find a new word um yeah it's been really really valuable and has super helped me like grow as an artist.
MOLLY: Mm-hmm wonderful. Um, and kind-of pulling in what we were talking about earlier because, artist is one of the hats that you have and and how do you balance um all the different hats that you choose to wear, want to wear, etc. So, that you can keep that creativity going uh in a sustainable way.
DIENAE: Yeah. Oooh another big question. Um, I think I like to try to like be creative in like all aspects of my life, you know. So even if it's just like walking my dogs every day, which is like a chore just trying to like find a creative way to do that. Usually that just takes the form of me like daydreaming about like what's happening in the houses I pass and then um kind of like...
MOLLY: That sounds like fun.
DIENAE: Yeah it is fun and like especially like I just moved recently so, I have like all the daydreams to come up with.
DIENAE: And, then also I um you know I'm working have to work to pay the bills and stuff but, I try to take a creative approach to that um my job right now is in like uh Digital Marketing, so I do a lot of content writing um I try to like be as creative as I can within the parameters that exist from the people that pay me. Um, but yeah kind of like take a creative approach and also have fun with everything and try to see fun things and like the boring, no boring things we have to do.
MOLLY: Yeah. Yeah, because you gotta keep the lights on and the AC working somehow.
DIENAE: Yeah but like trying to like go about it in like a way where it's fun and not so like drudgery.
DIENAE: Keeps me like inspired and like interested and energized to do other things.
MOLLY: Awesome. So in the middle of a pandemic and you know the world being on fire um figuratively and somewhat literally depending on what state you are in, um like how do you keep it going? How do you keep that energy going? Like, what advice do you have for others who are in similar positions?
DIENAE: Um I think taking care of yourself is like a main piece of advice and that's like I know it's like super broad advice, um. But, just doing things like um eating three meals a day if that works for you, um when I started eating breakfast and lunch my life kind of changed I was like oh wow if I like eat before I'm starving to live at 4pm I'm a lot more energetic throughout the day. Um, so you know try to like eat balanced meals, eat often you have to do it more than once a day. It's annoying but you do have to.
DIENAE: Um and find like a like a, like a time management system that works for you, which is like a really boring piece of advice but it is definitely like it's really important to me. So, I have like my Google calendar and I have like my task list, I have like a notepad like boxes to check off, so. Um, I have a pretty like intensely organized and like kind of repetitive system of like how to keep track of things but, that helps me to like stand out of stuff so then I'm not like uh scrambling at the last minute and stressed out all the time. It helps me like stay prioritized and focused. Yeah cause like being stressed out over deadlines takes up a lot of energy.
MOLLY: Yeah it does.
DIENAE: Yeah and I gotta put that energy somewhere else.