Welcome to the 5th profile in our new blog & podcast series by Artistic Associate Mariah Freda!
Meet Myjoycia Cezar- student, friend, stage manager and dramaturg extraordinaire.
Name: Myjoycia Cezar
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Sign: Leo Sun/Libra Moon/Virgo Rising
Signature Look: Floral blazer
Road Trip Snack of Choice: Twizzlers.
Listen to the micro-podcast on Patreon!
For the first three workshops of No Pants in Tucson, our team was flying wildly without a dramaturg. This was not by design, and we were eager to change it. So when Melissa traveled to a virtual play reading and returned with Myjoycia, we were beyond excited.
So how exactly did a Technical Theater student at Northwestern State University Louisiana, find our small (but mighty) NYC theater company?
“I was doing a play reading for my script analysis class. Just for accountability we would get on Zoom and we would read plays that we were going to discuss and the play that we were going to do last was Slave Play written by Jeremy O. Harris. I was actually going to present on it, so I was doing all the dramaturgy for it and the script analysis. And my professor shared the links on his FB page and he happened to know Melissa. Melissa watched the reading we were doing. At intermission she turned her video on and introduced herself, my professor was like, “we have a professional director in the room!”
Myjoycia is studying to be a dramaturg and stage manager. Currently, she says, her program does not offer any courses in devised theater, though she assured me that she is working to change that. I believe her. This young woman knows how to get things done. Just check out her Children’s Diversity Education Fund. So when she realized Melissa was the AD for a devised theater company, she was excited to know more. Little did she know that she had also caught Melissa’s eye.
“After the reading my professor messaged me and said that Melissa wanted my resume and to talk to me and that developed into me sitting in on one for the devising workshop rehearsals. It was the 3rd week and I sat in and watched and even participated because why not! And I immediately read everything on the website and saw all the work that y’all were doing and I was amazed. I sat in on rehearsals for 2 weeks and then I got a nice call from Melissa saying hey, you want to join? And I said yes!”
This was the 3rd week of this particular workshop, but many of us had been working on this show for almost a year. Yet, when Myjoycia joined the call, she seamlessly slid into our groove. Not only was she learning a fairly new mode of playmaking, but she was also doing it virtually--something we were all trying to learn in the moment. I asked Myjoycia what she had expected from the first rehearsal and if those expectations had been met or broken.
“I’ve been in theater now for 3 years including my senior year of high school. I’ve learned to not know what to expect unless I’m the one planning and that’s because I’m a stage manager. But if I’m not, the dramaturg side of me is like, whatever structure you provide for me, I will stay in it. I will ask questions along the way. So I didn’t have too many expectations. I expected to not know what was going on--in a good way. And I expected, from talking and emailing with Melissa, to enter into an open space where it was okay to ask questions and thankfully that rang true!”
Zoom rehearsal: (clockwise from top left) Myjoycia, China, Alexandra and Mariah.
The ability to jump in now and ask questions on the way, may not be the lesson our parents taught us, but it is a mindset that works very well for devised theater. In fact, I might even dare to say that it’s at the heart of making devised theater--the ability to do, ask questions, do again. Myjoycia jumped into her Zoom box and got to work.
“The second half of rehearsal we got moving-we did a warm up and then we started just moving around the room based on the word escape or freedom, and, like I’m a dramaturg just doing this work and I’m just moving around the room after having one jazz class. It's fun. And I think that it's fun to experience new things and to let yourself do things you didn’t know you could or or even to just let yourself try. And the first rehearsal was very fun in that sense.”
"I think that it's fun to experience new things and to let yourself do things you didn’t know you could or or even to just let yourself try. "
One of the greatest blessings and advantages of having folks in the rehearsal room from various disciplines is that everyone will naturally approach the work from a different angle. What Myjoycia quickly discovered was that her training and mindset was giving her a specific pathway into the process and that was via the found text.
As a dramaturg, she has been taught that “text is the best thing you can have--you need to stick to the text whenever you can.” It is of course different walking into a devising process where the text of the script often does not yet exist. However, this respect and love of the text was exactly the grounding force for Myjoycia’s work on this project.
“But now text is just another thing you can use to get you along the way. It doesn't have to be the primary thing. So it was cool to enter into a process where text was used reverently and irreverently. So you could comment on it as opposed to being the voice of it.”
I love this idea of holding the text dear, but then pulling it closely and critiquing it, asking it questions, commenting on it. It’s almost like making the text one more person in the room. Text constraints can be a very tricky thing for an actor to navigate--and by actor, I mean me. This workshop we were really sticking to found text. It can sometimes feel like a chain around my ankle, but through Myjoycia’s eyes, I can see the text as a gift, a life raft even, to sail to the next part of the story.
Myjoycia’s passion for this work can not be understated. I do not believe I have ever heard anyone else on the team gushingly describe the research google drive folder as “beautiful.” And this zeal for research, enthusiasm for exploration and willingness to throw away the rules from time to time is a winning combination for devised theater work.
“For me, at least, it's the perfect balance or antithesis of stage management. I love organizing things for other people so they don't have to worry and having everything look beautiful so they don’t have to say, “what is the structure? What is going on?” But then shifting into the dramaturgical--the structure is provided and I can play within it. And then doing dramaturgy within devised theater --the parameters are dynamic--where it can be about one subject but it can also be about this one person politically, socially, economically and culturally.”
Because No Pants in Tucson deals heavily with attire, I have asked all of our collaborators what their signature look is. Myjoycia replied, “I’m very much known for my blazers and I have multiple floral blazers that I love. And they’re beautiful. I am always job-interview-ready. Just tell me and I will be in my dress pants and blazer and I will be there.”
My last two questions which are always: What do you want to ask me? (Her response: What has been the most valuable/useful thing that you’ve learned from working with The Anthropologists?) and What did I miss?
She requested to share what she’s been working and that is what I will leave you with because the woman knows how to get to work.
“I'm working on Joy Jackson Initiative, working to get equitable standards for professional theaters and soon educational theaters and they have a great timeline on their website under the resources tab that ya girl has been working on.
There’s the Letter of Marque Theater. Their work should just be checked out because they’re awesome.
Check out Northwestern State University Theater and Dance. Our department is amazing and we have so much talent--it's just we are stuck in the middle of Louisiana, but we have students going all over the country to do work in the technical field and in performance and dance. We have a Facebook page and I’m working on it getting more active because we deserve the coverage."
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Interviewer Mariah Freda is the Artistic Associate of The Anthropologists. Myjoycia Cezar is a junior at Northwestern State University in Louisiana and served as our Dramaturgical Assistant for No Pants In Tucson this summer.
More info: www.patreon.com/TheAnthropologists