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Interview with Dienae

Updated: Dec 15, 2022


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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?


DIENAE: Hi.


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.


MOLLY: Yeah.


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..


MOLLY: Yeah.


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.


MOLLY: Yeah.


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?


MOLLY: Yeah.


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.


[BOTH LAUGH]


MOLLY: Yeah.


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?


MOLLY: Yeah.


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.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


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.


MOLLY: Yes.


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.


MOLLY: Yeah.


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.


MOLLY: Yeah.


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 l