A Message from WTP President Niki Tulk

I became Vice President of the Women and Theatre Program in a Covid maelstrom … amidst first tenure track job post graduate school, thrown online, feeling somewhat adrift in a new community that I suddenly was unable to access or truly get to know as we were all shut into our homes. Over that year it was wonderful and humbling to witness Jessica del Vecchio in flight as she gathered the threads that were flying in the wind of all the change, helped hold them together as we rode that wind. Now, stepping into her shoes that feel as large as if I were a child playing dress-ups in my mom’s stilettos, I hold that same collection of threads in my own palm--and now I look up. What I see is each ribbon flowing from and into another maker, teacher, artist, scholar, culture changer—all of whom are moving in these strange times with compassion and a deep commitment to centering the experience of womxn everywhere. And moving together.

There is so much care that needs to be taken right now. Higher Ed is a zone of conflict, scarcity and precarity, and the work of creative repair is daunting. It is difficult to step out and take risks right now. I believe WTP can be a space where we can continue the work of creating a solid core of caring, committed people who value each other and see the vital importance of art-making to our wider health as a planet of interdependent beings.

So, what are my thoughts and vision in this new role? Firstly, to honor the legacy that this group holds in its trust—and to look forward. I envision a streamlined, active and exciting digital space where we share opportunities, thoughts, scholarship and performances. This can be a regenerative site where we can see others and be seen, ask for what we need and lift each other up. Practically, this has meant beginning work already with digital goddess Kate Busselle to streamline our website as well as add new features such as a members’ digital call board, where we can put out calls for guest artists, promote and share opportunities, and look out for each other in concrete ways. Another action has been to gather online to laugh, rant, plan and dream. We have already had our first two zoom gatherings, with another coming up soon. Yes, I know, we are all thoroughly sick of zoom, BUT it was completely soul-feeding to spend that time together! For a couple of hours out of a busy week, we encouraged each other in our teaching, shared projects and felt much less alone.

I am excited to work alongside the other officers and all the WTP members to make an even more functional, cutting edge, communal, inclusive and imaginative WTP over the next few years. So, to kick all this off I offer these beautiful words from artist, writer, feminist and psychoanalyst Bracha L. Ettinger:

The purpose of art is not to represent reality or to aestheticize it. Art invents images and spaces. Art works like a maternal healing when it solicits against all the odds the human capacity to wonder, to feel awe, to feel compassion, to care, to trust and to carry the weight of the world. What you see doesn’t reflect reality or your own self; the image is not a mirror. When violence kills trust, art is the space where a trust in the other, and by extension of one’s being in the world, can re-emerge.

Let’s get on with co-creating that space! Together!