On this day last year my play, Redefining Alberta was performed to a packed house. The community was so receptive and supportive. The constant “mmhmm, I know that’s right and you betta say that” comments from them let me know that there was so much truth in the storytelling (I love my village). There was an overwhelming display of love and appreciation for people being able to authentically see themselves.
During the talkback people kept asking about getting this piece into the schools and if it would be performed again. The producer and I were supposed to figure something out. It wasn’t until months later during the unveiling of the historical markers where high school students from various schools spoke about the project and their partnership with the producer that I learned the producer had moved forward without me (You know money was involved). I tried contacting them, no response.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time. I am not the only writer, storyteller who has been violated in this way. And, it’s not the first time it’s happened to me but I’ve remained silent and complacent because it’s the norm and when we (artists) speak up/out about it we’re looked at with disdain and shamed for telling the truth as if we’re not supposed to say anything, ever.
Many artists, especially now, produce their own work, create their own brands because, one, it’s easier to do than ten years ago. Two, submitting your original content to producers, established writers, contests have often lead to having one’s work used, borrowed, stolen by people who constantly tell you this is the mindset of rookies. Only amateurs fear having their work stolen. But I’ve spoken with professionals who would disagree. I’ve learned the hard way, even when you have your work copy written it can be tweaked to the point where the person who tweaked it can simply say they had the same idea.
Someone actually used the “there’s enough room for all of us” statement then turned around and used numerous excerpts and plot elements from another one of my plays in one of their projects and passed it off as their own. There comes a time when creatives get to a point of exhaustion from having to protect their ‘pride’. That is my current state. It’s unfortunate how predators take meekness for weakness until the lion/lioness roars.