Intersections: A Celebration of Seattle PerformANCE
Comedy, Representation, and Intersectionality!
There’s a ton of diversity in the Seattle comedy scene. You just may not be seeing a lot of it.
Enter Intersections: A Celebration of Seattle Performance, a comedy festival that will run March 22-25 at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. Intersections is aiming to make visible a broad and eclectic array of performance—including standup, improv and sketch, but also dance, drag, burlesque, spoken word and music—that is actually representative of the oft-minoritized voices and talent this city has to offer.
Intersections was born out of frustration on the parts of its founders—all performers, practitioners, and seriously talented women (we’ll get to that in a moment)—who were hearing desire from other theater professionals to prioritize diversity. But they weren’t seeing much action—or, much work toward examining the systemic issues that underlie so much inequity in the comedy scene.
The idea for a festival was conceived by Natasha Ransom and Kinzie Shaw of the intersectional, feminist, queer improv duo FEELINGS; they contacted Jekeva Philips, director of the Bibliophilia storytelling festival, who came on as a co-founder and co-producer. Each of the three brings distinct perspective and background to the team: Natasha performs with several independent improv groups and co-leads a monthly improv jam for women called Coven; Kinzie has likewise been doing improv for years and is a company member at Unexpected Productions; and Jekeva is a poet, novelist, improvisor, and organizer of Seattle’s Lit Crawl (in addition to Bibliophilia). The three have in common an investment in advocating for under-represented artists in general, and in creating a more inclusive environment for performers in Seattle.
To raise funds for the festival—i.e., to pay their artists—Intersections is holding a kickoff party and fundraiser on Feb 21st at the Royal Room (in Columbia City). The no-cover fundraiser will feature a few performers from the festival and include a silent auction with an array of enticing items for all budgets. Doors and the silent auction open at 6:30pm, and the performance begins at 7:00pm.
DeConstruct met Natasha, Kinzie and Jekeva over coffee for what felt like a really fun first date. We heard about the festival, the fundraiser, and why you should go to both; but mostly we talked about performance, comedy, representation, equity, and, well, intersectionality. The conversation was so good that we’ve reproduced choice sections here. DeConstruct will be at the kickoff party / fundraiser so keep your eyes peeled for a debrief and more hype for the festival.
Enjoy—and we’ll see you Feb 21st at the Royal Room!
On why Intersections, why now:
Jekeva: Is it that Seattle’s just white? Or is it that it seems like improv is a white man’s game because that’s the only thing that we ever see? What’s been interesting is given the recent political climate, I think that some people are starting to have room for these conversations. How can you make sure that you’re not just saying “well, the reason why POC or the ‘others’ of society aren’t showing up is just because they’re not there…” Is it really that? Or is it that they don’t feel like it’s a space for them because the only thing they see are white faces? Straight, white faces?
Natasha: We are asking, “What are the systemic issues that keep an art form like improv only for straight, white, cis-gendered men?” And what do we need to do institutionally to change that? You need to look at a lot of things- changing your leadership, what neighborhoods are you serving, who is in your marketing materials? You need a holistic view in order to change the whole system.”
Kinzie: Starting this a year ago, I honestly thought no one would apply to be in our festival- like it was just going to be a pipe-dream of ours and it wasn’t going to come true. We’ve gotten so much positive feedback and so many applications. It just shows that our community actually wants and needs this. On the surface everyone’s like “Oh, yes, DIVERSITY, we’re committed to diversity.” And on the underbelly of it everyone is screaming for more opportunity, for more stage time, for more workshops, for more education, and it’s not happening.
Intersections Festival Kickoff Party / Fundraiser
When: Weds Feb 21st – Doors and silent auction at 6:30pm, Performance at 7:00pm
Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Ave S)
Cost: No cover
DeConstruct and Intersections Festival team met at Café Solstice on Jan 21
Write up authors: Liz Janssen & Steph Hankinson
**DeConstruct members Anthony Reynolds & Kate Forster in attendance