EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to the sixth episode of TeaTalks. In this monthly column, Seth Johnson and Olivia Grace Murphy, the founders of Flexible Grey Theatre Company and guests discuss issues important to the LGBTQ+ and other under-represented communities in the performing arts world. Excerpts from the conversation appear in print, with links to the audio files below.
TeaTalks now runs on the second Wednesday of month.
In this episode, Murphy and Johnson chat with Jacie Hood, a theater artist and improvisational comedy performer with Stomping Ground Comedy Theater. She talks about Stomping Ground's work with neurodivergent people and its diversity efforts.
Welcome to TeaTalks, a monthly interview series where we, Seth Johnson and Olivia Grace Murphy from Flexible Grey Theatre Company, dig into the hot topics in the DFW theatre community and spill the tea. Usually these topics will revolve around the LGBTQ+ community or other marginalized groups in the arts. In this TeaTalks very special episode, we did our first ever Community Spotlight on the one, the only, Jacie Hood.
You guys. Jacie Hood. If you don’t know her, you should. This actor/director/playwright/musician/improv artist/self-proclaimed Bubble Queen has been making waves in the DFW theaters community for about five-and-a-half years.
Here are some of her résumé bullet points (but trust us, her expertise expands far beyond this, we just know our readers are busy people who don’t have time to read a novel)
- Two decades of performance experience
- Specializes in improv, musical improv, and sketch comedy
- Essentially ran the Lubbock, Texas theatre scene (our words, not hers) during her nine years there both on stage and behind the scenes
We had the distinct pleasure of sitting down with this beast in the game on an early Saturday morning. On this particular morning, no tea was consumed, only spilled.
Note: These are just excerpts from the conversation. For the full TeaTalks experience, please listen to the link below.
You can listen to the full podcast in the player below, and also on Sound Cloud, Spotify, or RSS Feed. We also have special content on our Patreon including a rapid-fire interview with Jacie. https://www.patreon.com/FGTeaTalks
Jacie is the Training Center Director for Stomping Ground Comedy Theater. Her aim is to diversify improv comedy both in who performs and attends the shows.
Part of Stomping Ground’s effort to broaden horizons includes classes to help different communities.
JACIE: “It’s an amazing program to see just from a small workshop to even a seven-week course the changes that you see in people, the confidence that they build, the comfort and connections that they create, it’s really beautiful. And honestly I have personally seen huge changes in my life and the comfort and confidence that I feel every day.”
And it doesn’t stop there. Jacie elaborates on her particular goals at the company…
JACIE: “Our mission at Stomping Ground is connecting the community through comedy. And that community is the entirety of DFW. We want to make sure that anybody who wants to get up on that stage has the platform to do it. And so we’ve prioritized, as far as our training center is concerned, offering diversity and outreach scholarships for people from marginalized communities or who are at a socio-economic place where they can not necessarily afford classes, we want to make that accessible. So once you’re scholarshiped in, you’re going through the whole training center for free. And on top of that, we’re then trying to get those performers into our shows, so that when when people come to the theatre they’re not just seeing a sea of ghostly white faces on stage. Because comedy does have that stereotype, of being middle-age white men on stage, making jokes that are for them.”
Oh, and this stereotype is WELL documented. Here is an amazing article on the topic if you would like to learn more.
Throughout this all, Jacie has had her share of obstacles. Jacie is a person living with fibromyalgia, which according to a quick Google search is “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.” (thank you mayoclinic.org)
May we just take this moment to say… oh my stars and garters that sounds about as fun as being trapped in a barrel with angry lobsters.
Jacie does so many amazing things in the community and depending on the day her fibromyalgia could be better or worse. And she has definitely had issues in the theater world with having an invisible illness in theatres in the past.
JACIE: “People I would say for the most part believe me that it’s there and believe me that it’s real, but may not believe what I say my boundaries are. So if I tell them like, ‘hey, I’m having a flare-up today so I can’t go full-out on the choreography but trust me that if I am in performance I can still do it.’ And they’ll look at me and they’ll say ‘well if you can’t do it today, how can I trust that you’ll be able to do it in performance?’ and I’ll say “well because I’ll take preventative measures at that time. I can tell when a flare-up is coming and I will rest. I’m just not going to do it in rehearsals because I can’t afford to right now. I have a life.”
Because of instances like this, Jacie is resistant to asking for accommodations.
JACIE: “I try not to ask for accommodations until I need them. I don’t like to bring it up early because of the potential for discrimination. And so a lot of times then, if I’ve been going through like, a long period of time with somebody and then I ask like ‘hey, can I get a chair to sit in because I’m not feeling great today?’ I get side eye, like ‘well you haven’t needed it this whole time, why do you need it today?’ So it can be a struggle sometimes.”
We don’t want to spill TOO much tea right now. Next month we are having Jacie back in the tea room (because we just can’t get enough of her) as well as other DFW artists with invisible illnesses. We would love if you listened and joined us for next month’s TeaTalks but until then, #ThatsTheTea.