NANA DAKIN Community Spotlight

This week, we’re launching our 4th Summer Training Institute, a week-long in-depth exploration of the community-based performance and documentary theatre practices behind our Undesirable Elements series. This year’s institute is hosted by LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Agents of Change Initiative. We appreciate meeting new friends and colleagues each year in our institutes–like Nana Dakin, who first engaged with us as a participant in our 2011 Summer Training Institute. She’s a theatre director and performer who’s a member of Thailand’s B-Floor Theatre. She’s currently pursuing her MFA in directing at Columbia University.

Nana Dakin headshot
Theatre maker Nana Dakin

How did you come to engage with Ping Chong + Company?

I greatly admired the work of Ping Chong + Company after I saw BLIND NESS: The Irresistible Light of Encounter at La Mama ETC in 2004. I applied to be an intern at PC+C after I finished my undergrad training, but unfortunately there was no PC+C production work happening in NYC at the time. Nevertheless, I was kindly invited to attend a rehearsal of “Secret History: Journeys Abroad, Journeys Within” at Lincoln Center. It was my first introduction to the Undesirable Elements series, and I was utterly impressed and inspired by the concept of it. I was particularly drawn to its focus on sharing the testimonies of marginalized and displaced communities. When I saw the opportunity to learn how to create this type of work at the Summer Institute in 2011, I leapt at the chance.

What was a meaningful moment or take-away from your experience with PC+C?

At one point, Ping described the directing of an Undesirable Elements performance as being about directing the movement of the sound of people’s voices. This has always stayed with me.

How does your time with PC+C influence what you’re doing today?

My time with PC+C taught me how powerful it is to be given a space to tell your story and have someone else listen to it. Because my background is in physical theatre, I have been working on translating this idea into movement-based work. In 2013, for example, I co-created a dance performance called “The Last Gasp of a Mournful Heart” devised from the personal stories of its 4 female performers (including myself), which explored our experiences of letting go and saying goodbye.

Nana Dakin Last Gasp
B-Floor Theatre’s “The Last Gasp of a Mournful Heart” (2013), directed by Nana Dakin & Vidura Amranand

CARLY McCOLLOW Community Spotlight

Carly McCollow first joined the Ping Chong + Company community as a participant in our Summer Training Institute. She then joined us as a teaching artist in our Secret Histories arts-in-education program at Flushing International High School in Flushing, Queens. 

Carly McCollow FIHS 2014
Carly McCollow leading her students at Flushing International High School’s performance of “Secret Histories” in 2014.

 

How did you come to engage with Ping Chong + Company?

I first learned about PC+C through Jesca Prudencio, with whom I crossed paths during our undergrad education at NYU. As my work moved towards community-based theater, professors directed me to her as someone who was doing this sort of work, as she was then the Education Director at PC+C. We began meeting and sharing our experiences in the worlds of community-based and documentary theater. I attended a PC+C Summer Institute in 2013. That Institute, and the people I met there, changed my life in many ways. I was thrilled at the opportunity to teach with PC+C at Flushing International High School in 2014.

What was a meaningful moment or take-away from your experience with PC+C?

At the Summer Institute, a fellow participant approached me at a social gathering and mentioned that she noticed I was struggling with my own privilege. This put a name on something I’d been grappling with for a long time. It started me on the path of community engagement and social justice work, and I am now in the Masters of Social Work program at Hunter College to learn more tools to do this kind of work. The other participants at the Institute gave me the beginnings of my social justice community.

How does your experience with PC+C influence what you’re doing today?

The Secret Histories residency I did with PCC at Flushing International High School crystallized my desire to spend my life doing this work. The collaboration there with the teachers, school administrators, and students–and their determination to do their jobs, using love as a tool–showed me a new way to do this work. The students I met there touched me profoundly, and were the reason I enrolled in an MSW program to be able to be more fully equipped to do this work going forward. Documentary theater and storytelling can be therapeutic, and I want to be able to take responsibility for that aspect of it.

Carly McCollow headshot
Carly McCollow