It may be dizzying to look at my resumes. From actor to writer to social impact entrepreneur and more in between, I have orchestrated a life that gets to express itself in a variety of forms. While that is exciting to me personally, I’m also aware how our cultural norm is to have one career that justifies their identity. People are asked “who are you? What do you do?” In the same breath and expected to provide a simple and one word answer. Complicated and longer explanations are frowned upon. So much so, that the listener may even provide their own simplified version sans nuance. “Oh, you’re a fill in the blank with something easy and tropish”. However, if there is discernment in your lens and you are willing to look past the capitalist standard organizing model of our cultural inheritance, it will be noted that there is movement around a central theme in my work. My work is always grounded in a collaborative practice that prioritizes community mindedness, horizontal power structures and decolonizing ideologies. As theatre is the platform that allows me to explore art in collaboration with others, entrepreneurship - similarly- can only be accomplished when utilizing and leading a team. In the case of the company I founded called Upper Manhattan Forest Kids, I’m able to co-create both curriculum and educational playing spaces with human beings at the entry point of their lives. The young people with whom I make daily discoveries around new games and hidden paths within our urban forests become architects for future classes. And even inside of an art form such as theatre that is built for sharing and partnership, my work -as Company Cypher’s co-founder-is committed to creating innovative lines of shared communication beyond the 4th wall that enters into the audiences and communities that surrounded each production. Co-conceiving In The Cypher - A Hip Hop Play, initiated a new model for theatre that would create fluid spaces for performer and listening audiences to engage in the complicated conversation around racism. Then there were the vehicles for community engagement taking the form of invited guest facilitators, neighborhood walks and creative partnering, which were led by and led to a deeper involvement with anti-racist community organizing. As co-founder of ACRE (Artists Co-Creating Real Equity), we are able to organizing Undoing Racism workshops as well as sustain the conversation in an ever expanding community. Weaving in and out of modalities fuel my inspiration and fosters flexible thinking and visioning. I’m thankful for my winding path that continues to spiral chaotically into bliss and so I follow.
SARITA COVINGTON holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Her work has received support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Open Meadows Foundation, The Puffin Foundation and the Jerome Foundation. She has been an artist in residence through SPARC (Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide) and BAX (Brooklyn Arts Exchange). She has served on the Advisory council for The Field Leadership Fund and supported and coached Race Forward’s Racial Equity in the Arts Innovation Lab. Sarita has taught and facilitated workshops among a variety of communities including the inmates at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, the Yale Schools of Divinity and Drama through a course entitled, ‘The Quest for Social Justice; Through Music, Theater and Religion’, Artspace’s City Wide Open Studios community dialogue addressing The Dynamics of Temporary, Site-Based Interventions, NYC Public Schools, Philadelphia Charter School students, Danish High School students, Mexican youth in a Tijuana orphanage and the 59th Street Project.