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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Changing The Story: Leading With Values and Curiosity

  • Author(s): Runion, Bryan
  • Advisor(s): Porter, Lisa
  • et al.

In Everybody Black, the Black Historian says, “Everything is just a story. It’s a choice. And ya learn from it and change. Or ya don’t.” This play examines historical narratives within and about the Black community in America, and, as a Caucasian person, the process led me to examine the way I view myself, and how my life experiences have influenced the person I have become. Growing up, “good” and “bad” were dictated to me through religion and were determined in judgement as a representation of my character. I learned to live my life governed by a value system that had no middle ground. Society dictated how I should behave, and I stifled myself in order to conform.

In the play, the Black Historian places the actors in roles that are oversimplified representations of real life. This choice felt like an analogy for the ways society and religion have expected me to behave. In the same way the characters challenged how their stories are told, I confronted my own history. In order to connect, I chose to reveal my feelings and risk rejection. I engaged with my collaborators on a personal level, and made an effort to hear their individual histories, actively forging relationships outside of rehearsal. As I addressed my need to behave in certain predetermined ways, a weight from my past lifted, and my leadership as a stage manager evolved into invitations to collaborate rather than snap judgement.

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