AAPEX Interview: Sandra A. Daley-Sharif — AAPEX Interview , Sandra A.Daley-Sharif — AAPEX

Thursday, March 27, 2014

AAPEX Interview: Sandra A. Daley-Sharif

Sandra A. Daley-Sharif
What role did theatre and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing?
Funny, when I look back, theatre and the arts did not seem to be a part of my early life. But I will say, that the members of my family were highly creative people. They were skilled leaders, great storytellers, and they knew how to make something out of nothing. 

I was born in Jamaica, West Indies. My parents still live there. I go home quite regularly to visit my granny. She’s 94 years old.

My father is a reverend and local politician, my mother was a school teacher, my step-father was a police sergeant, and my step-mother made me beautiful dresses and shorts sets, and I remember going from town to town with her; her job was to teach people how to make crafts, in order to make a living.

My family are community activists. I grew up in my great grandmother’s house on a large piece of land that belonged to her Irish family. She’s buried on that land. And to all corners, beyond where the eyes could see, there were trees and lush mountains. We were - We are amazingly blessed. So, people were always in and out of my home, seeking work, food, shelter, and counsel.

I am not surprised that producing, directing, writing, acting… is my life. That my life is about people. It’s about leadership and transformation.

Tell us about your own evolution as an artist.
I started out as a fashion designer. Sort of “tripped” up on the idea that I had a talent for painting and illustrating. In the late 80s, I quickly made a name for myself as one of the youngest and the only black designer in a large sportswear company, in Manhattan’s garment district. 

At about that time, I took a series of Erhard Seminars Trainings (est), with the idea of transforming the experience of my life. Those trainings were influential in helping to raise my level of integrity and how I present myself to the world. My authenticity comes from that work. And I never play “small”.

I quit my lucrative job as a young designer for accounts like Macy’s, Diane Von Furstenberg, Spiegel’s and I dared to live the life I dreamed.

I studied dance with Alvin Ailey and Phil Black, started acting, producing, you name it, I’ve done it.
Today, everyday of my life is a creative process; even as a mother and a wife. I am not daunted by much. I take on new endeavors with great fervor. That’s not to say that I’m not afraid of judgement and failure, but…once I recognize the fear, I know I have to step out on and do!

What is The Silver Thread and where are you on this project at this time?
“The Silver Thread”, is an award-winning (Hudson Valley Writers’ Center 2012 awardee and a Great Plains Conference 2013 Lab Play) new play by creative emerging African-American playwright, Joslyn Housley-McLaughlin. Joslyn wrote “The Silver Thread” in Liberation Theatre Company’s Black Playwrights’ Group. It’s based on the true story of Dr. J Marion Sims, who was a surgical pioneer, considered the father of gynecology.  Today, a heated ethical debate continues about his legacy, as Sims used black female slaves as experimental subjects, much like the famed Tuskegee Experiments. Sims repaired fistula after experimenting on Alabamian slave women, without using anesthesia. It was only after the success of the early experiments on the slaves that Sims attempted the procedure on Caucasian women with fistulas, this time with anesthesia. His technique using silver-wire sutures led to successful repair of a fistula, and this was reported in 1852.
Ideally, I would love to collaborate with a theatre that has the space and funds to produce a full production of the play. Today, my producing partner, Spencer Scott Barros and I, under the auspices of Liberation Theatre Company, are raising funds ($40,000) to produce a workshop production of the play. 

If you are interested in hearing more about the project email us at info@liberationtheatrecompany.orgor visit TheSilverThreadPlay.com. If you feel inclined to donate, click here or paste this in your browserhttps://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=2885
What are your thoughts on the state of Black Theatre in our country today?
There is no shortage of great producers and storytellers across the country. Our longevity depends on our willingness to collaborate, to mentor, to seek mentorship, and to be visionaries - to look beyond our immediate circumstances, towards what is possible. I believe  that we also need to create a new paradigm for how  we produce and present our stories. We may have to break some rules or create new rules. We can’t expect to compete with the bigger theaters or tell our stories in quite the same way. I am working with playwrights who are “breaking tradition”, telling stories in a new way. Let’s get creative about how we get those stories out there. Many of us have very little resources and often, we are transient, moving from space to space. So, there is always the danger, of producing beyond our means, where the quality of the work and professionalism suffers. That should never be the case. Honoring the stories, the work and the artists involved, is first and foremost.

Sandra A. Daley-Sharif is producing artistic director of Liberation Theatre Company, established in 2009 as a home for creative emerging Black playwrights, providing resources to develop their work, nurturing and inviting them to express themselves in a supportive and focused environment. http://www.liberationtheatrecompany.org http://www.sandradaley.com

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