By Kaitlin Wasik
Do you ever have the urge to tell your story? Do you have life experiences that you wish you could share with others, but you’re just not sure how? Do you listen with envy to The Moth podcast and dream of that shining moment when you tell your most awkward date story to an engaged audience of listeners?
Well, five incredibly talented women in Denver have discovered a method for sharing their stories, and you can experience them live this weekend at “How I Got Over,” showing at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) on March 25 and 26.
However, don’t be misled; this is not amateur storytelling hour. These women – Suzi Q Smith, Jenee Elise, Bianca Mikahn, Toluwanimi Obiwole and Ralonda Simmons – are accomplished writers, poets, musicians and performers, and they’re bringing all these talents to the stage.
The Creative Process
“How I Got Over” began simply as five ladies sharing stories. Off Center, a branch of DCPA that creates out-of-the-box, unique theatrical experiences in Denver, began brainstorming this idea with Smith, a nationally known poet and finalist at the Women of the World Poetry Slam who lives in Denver. Beginning in the summer of 2015, Smith brought together a few local women she knew as strong writers and poets.
The women met regularly, over coffee or meals, and after months of meeting they discovered common emotions and struggles they had all experienced. Thoughts and feelings they once thought were foolish were now connecting them to each other. Now the question was: How can they portray these emotions and experiences to an audience?
For the last several months, these women developed, wrote, directed and ultimately performed “How I Got Over” to create a collaborative and authentic work of art. The show reflects their commonalities through each of their unique writing styles and poetic voices.
Not Your Average Play
Aligning with Off Center’s goal to engage theater audiences in innovative ways, “How I Got Over” is far from a traditional play.
As Smith describes it, “Written in the language of poetry, it is a reclamation of voice and a celebration of our survival.”
Elise, another writer and performer, with experience as a chef, punk rocker and poet, describes the show as:
“Black and brown women healing and expressing thoughts and situations that normally don’t get talked about.”
Following the opening weekend of the show, the performers have been moved and encouraged to hear audience members relating to their stories.
“It’s vulnerability in a way that we don’t usually get to express,” Elise says. “It feels like we’re oversharing, but in a way that you want. Just know you’re not alone, you’re not fighting by yourself; people are fighting with you and for you. This is a good place to realize that.”
The show covers an array of topics that every individual can relate to, regardless of their background, simply because they’re human. The performers provide strong, unique delivery, with a weaving of photos and media to enhance the messages.
“I hope that viewers walk away inspired to examine and tell their own stories and celebrate all that they have survived, to see themselves and others with empathy and courage,” Smith shares.
As we’re all faced with overcoming differences in a country filled with diversity, let us embrace the unique story of every person we encounter and strive to understand new perspectives. Let “How I Got Over” inspire you to listen and to share your story.
Shows start at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15. Tickets are available here.