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A Brief But Spectacular take on love, joy and the pursuit of happiness


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Geoff Bennett: Jonathan McCrory has served as the artistic director at the National Black Theatre for more than 10 years and along the way earned three Obie Awards. That's the highest honor for off-Broadway theater.

Tonight, he shares his Brief But Spectacular take on love, joy and the pursuit of happiness.

Jonathan McCrory, Artist: I am a creative doula. A doula is a person who actually helps to birth.

The idea is the child. The playwright or the director are the mother and the father. And I'm helping them to birth that thing so the world can see it and the world can be changed by it.

Music my work at the National Black Theatre is a 50-year-old organization. I have been there for about 11 years. We have been able to dream up and to believe into Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's original vision, which was to create a space where people can live, serve and work.

And we use our theory of change as a way in which to make that happen, which is Black liberation plus art, plus placemaking equals the conditions for humans to be transformed.

If we imagine ourselves as butterflies, what is possible? If we imagine ourselves to be butterflies, what is possible? Who are we then if we imagine ourselves to be unfelt, unfettered, and unreleased from that husk? Imagining that maybe three years was a cocoon for us. Three years was an imagination for us to be able to see, witness, and become something new.

Who did you become?

When I think about what it means to be full-bodied and fully present, I really have a conversation with, how are we reckoning with some of the Western traditions that have actually allowed us to commodify ourselves, instead of seeing ourselves as really powerful beings?

Everything around us, everything that we're able to cultivate is of our own doing and is our own becoming.

You are the cultivation of wisdom wrapped in flesh. You are the cultivation of possibility made real. In every breath that you get to take, something is shifting inside this planet. Futures are being written that we have never even known. And those futures that are being written is what I need, is what our future needs, is what our children need.

I was crafted from that kind of technology that my ancestors, ancestors of slaves, ancestors of people who were born into fortitude, also ancestors who were kings and queens, but those ancestors actually said, one day, there would be a Jonathan, and I'm going to show up for him in this moment. I'm going to wrap my words with joy, and, from that joy, allow for something magical to show up.

That is what I'm asking for you to understand, that your presence right here is a gift.

That's really what I mean about the power of presence, the ability to share love and to show love to any and everything, that you understand that there is only good in the world, and that, through that good, you're radically transformed. And transformation doesn't mean that it's always comfortable. It means you live in the discomfort of your growth.

Remember, that breath was a gift. The next one is a gift, energy turned into manifesting something real. What realness will you do with the time you have, with the seconds that you're given?

(Cheering and applause)

Jonathan McCrory: My name is Jonathan McCrory, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on love, joy, and the pursuit of happiness.

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