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the power of my (moving) hips

Whenever I offer an honest and sexy peek into the life of an African American woman – on stage or for the screen – responses from early audiences are largely, emphatically positive, grateful and welcoming.

“Thank you. We don’t often get to see ourselves portrayed in these ways.”

And especially for women over 40, as we find in my latest (9th, in development) stageplay, Wild + Free. Thewild and free fa profile image bronzed woman in this story is Sydney Augustine, a Creole shop owner in the fictional south Georgia town of Prairie Hills. The second half of life was supposed to be a smooth journey to retirement for her. However, after five years in this resort town, during the summer after 45’s election, smooth becomes bumpy. Sydney finds herself caught between an old flame and her current boyfriend – while the town’s white residents vehemently resist her plans of expanding her business, preferring to keep some historical secrets buried.

While I love feedback that lets us know we are doing valuable work, I am still trying to figure out why these kinds of stories are so rare. What is it about openly positive stories about sex (women’s sex) that causes such an uproar? And Wild + Free is not actually about sex! It’s about Sydney’s pursuit of what she wants in life. Sex happens to be just as integral in her life as it is in ours – and we do not make a big deal out of it – which can cause it to become a big deal.

What in the world???

I am excited about one of the takeaways from the recent hit movie, Girls Trip. HuffPost writer, Zeba Blay, celebrates that this movie allows black women to be raunchy and hilarious, creating an “exhilarating” experience that apparently resonates deeply with audiences.

“Black female sexuality has always been such a loaded concept,” Blay writes. “With Girls Trip, for the first time in a long time (perhaps not since 1995′s Waiting To Exhale), we’ve gotten a comedy that focuses entirely on its black female leads, that features black women talking frankly and openly about what kind of dicks they like, the hypnotizing power of their bodies, the healing powers of getting “your back blown out,” the occasional necessity of some good no-strings-attached sex. It’s not that no-strings-attached sex is inherently empowering. The depiction of black women over the age of 40 having agency over their own bodies, however, is.”

I am so here for that! (Read Blay’s entire article.)

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Table read cast + crew for Wild + Free, 30 July 2017

And I invite you to be here for Wild + Free as well. Like us on Facebook, learn more, consider making a donation to our 1st reading in the fall, and if you’re in/around Atlanta, check it out – let us know what you think!

“I will not be another flower, picked for my beauty and left to die. I will be wild, difficult to find, and impossible to forget.” ~Author Unknown/Sydney’s Life Mantra

(c) 2017 candi dugas, llc

just free . . .

Posted on
just free . . .

Feeling the perfectly temperatured breeze on my skin last week during my morning walk, I felt so incredibly FREE!

From the time I decided that my liberty would be the topic of this week’s post, I’ve been struggling with the words to aptly convey to you that moment and its continuation into now. But the words escape me. I want to share it with you fully because I want you to feel it too, or at least taste a bit of it or catch a glimpse. But the words escape me.

In one of my Kabbalah books I find that words don’t exist for these kinds of experiences because the encounters didn’t happen there [in words]. I suppose it’s like one of those humorous anecdotes that don’t translate well to others. To appreciate it fully, you had to be there.

For this story, though, I’m not willing to settle for “you had to be there.” Not that you can join me in revisiting that exact moment, but I do so long for others to be free. From what? From whatever keeps you bound, you know – fear, desire to please everyone, lack, disease, insecurities, settling for less, unhappiness – all of that.

When I picture freedom, I see one of the early scenes of Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Berry. In this scene (within the first minute or so of the clip below), Ms. Berry’s character, Janie, takes off running barefoot under the sun in a flowing white dress and jumps in the lake, fully clothed. We can just feel the refreshment that the water’s coolness and the splash bring to Janie.

Prior to this scene we learn that she is awakening to her sexuality. She’s always been one to notice the exquisite details of

exquisite details of nature like Janie notices in her freedom

exquisite details of nature like Janie notices in her freedom

nature, like the bee feeding on the nectar from a flower’s center. Now she notices the exquisite details on the rippling muscles of a young neighbor, Johnny Taylor, as he makes his way past her home to catch some fish.

Her grandmother, Nanny, observes them kissing and wears Janie out for letting him feel all over her. Obviously Nanny is reacting to more than the budding attraction she witnesses. Nevertheless, she gives to Janie all of the burdens borne by generations of women before Janie, including the obligation to marry a “good” man who is old enough to be Janie’s grandfather. Nanny doesn’t see the bee on the flower petal and she blinds her granddaughter to it as well – for a time.

“Nanny took the horizon and pinched it into a little bit of a thang.” ~Janie,  Their Eyes Were Watching God

I fully understand that when these similar kinds of life-altering occurrences happen in our own lives, for the most part, our foremothers are acting out of love. They are doing the best they know how. Yet, for every Nanny there is a Janie. So I cannot help but wonder what makes a Nanny accept being the “mule of the world” for her lifetime and what makes a Janie not? And so when I complain that my mother-ancestors could have advanced our rights as women faster and sooner, that leaves me refusing their answer of, “We didn’t have a choice.”

 There is always a choice.

My heightened sense of freedom is truly a gift, a blessing. But it is also a result of years of intentional work and hard choices. I suppose, then, my wish for others is not just for freedom, but the courage, perseverance, and strength to do the work, make and stick to the hard choices. Yeah, I’ve cried and lamented and seriously considered regressing to try to alleviate some of the temporary discomfort and pain. Somehow, though, there is something inside of me that fundamentally will not settle for that, no matter how difficult the progress is. I’ve never settled for less as far back as I can remember. And I don’t think I’m any more special than anyone else in our world.

“Candi! Candi! Whatcha doin’?”

“I’m feelin’ free.  . . .  I’m feelin’ G~d.”

I hope you’ll join me . . . 😉

(c) 2012 candi dugas, llc

Their Eyes Were Watching God – (c) 2005 Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. and Touchstone Television.

All rights reserved.

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