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Identity

What does it mean to have an artistic identity? Or a professional identity? Or even an identity at all? Is it liberating to define one's practice and profession? Or is it limiting? Does it provide a home base or a restrictive perspective?

What does it mean to have a multi-hyphenate identity? Does it mean you are interested in many things? Does it mean you are competent in many things? Does it mean you must excel at every label you stick between those hyphens? Is it just a way of sounding pretentious? Or is it a refusal to hone one's skills, a bullish insistence in keeping all doors open? Does it simply negate the purpose of even defining an identity.  

I currently identity as a multi-hyphenate; someone who does and is interested in many things. In my mind (or perhaps my dreams) these things are complementary. Each informs and improves the other, so working on one is really doing work in service of all. So, when I spend hours pouring over a dense academic text, trying to make sense of the complex ideas and wondering why the author can't just make their point more directly, I tell myself that this work informs my performing life. And when I perform, and go through the agonizing stage anxiety that always seems to swell up inside me, I insist that it is helping me become a better dramaturg. And when I offer (what I hope is constructive) criticism on a colleague's work, I pat myself on the back, for, surely, this is making me a better academic. I don't doubt this. But I do wonder if the transfer is more laborious than what I originally realized. Do the skills acquired in one domain magically hop over and help you in another? Are they assimilated so concretely into your body that you can't help but use them at all times? Perhaps, I don't doubt that this happens in some instances. But are there also times when we must be more intentional about employing these "crossover" skills in different domains. 

Megan Johnson