by Ms. Boye
When Art Spark Director Celia Hughes suggested Terry Galloway as our Art Spark Artist of the Month for July, Celia received a resounding “YES!” from my coworkers. I gave a silent prayer of gratitude for the ability to attend meetings with my video off. Masking is so much easier when they can’t see your face.
I immediately began my search ballet for “Terry Galloway, actor, disability” and all its potential variations. And I admit, grumbling to myself, how was I meant to write a short blog that would give due credit to someone I haven’t heard of and don’t know any of her work? It’ll be like officiating a funeral for someone I’ve never met!
My A.D.D.-neurologically atypical-spectrum-ish brain was severely challenged by not having all the answers before I started something new. See, I was that kid who wouldn’t try anything unless I was certain I would be good at it. Then I listened to a Distopia podcast interview with Terry, and heard her say:
“That I hate failing. I HATE failing and will do anything not to fail again. Including not doing anything ever again that remotely resembles what I’ve failed at.”
– Excerpt from transcript of the DisTopia PODCAST Ep. 37 Interview Date | April 16, 2020
At that moment I realized Celia was right, I am the perfect person to write a piece introducing Terry as the Art Spark Texas July Artist of the Month.
Terry and I come from very different backgrounds, and in many ways, we are opposites. Yet I hear myself in her words, see my experience of the world echoed in her storytelling. I am fascinated by her work and the places where our facets of self intersect, where they diverge and where they run parallel.
Terry’s disability was diagnosed in childhood. Mine was not diagnosed until I was in my thirties.
By age nine, Terry knew she liked girls and felt more comfortable being one of the boys. By nine, I too knew I wasn’t like other girls, I navigated my seven years at my all girls grammar school as if I were an anthropologist in a deep cover participant observation study.
Terry has been an advocate for disability rights and inclusion in the arts for over 50 years, since she was rejected by the Theatre Arts Program at UT Austin, despite winning a scholarship at 16. She refused to let go of her dream of being an actor and director, eventually finding a company that welcomed her. I was the first person in my family to attend university. I was finally able to find my home in the theater community when I surrendered to my denial of my disability, which had been invisible to me, and the world, for decades.
Terry’s work is cutting edge, confrontational, visionary. My work tends to be more quietly subversive. I’m definitely more comfortable on the ‘Mary Poppins’ end of the theatrical spectrum, albeit a gender-bending version.
Terry’s writing explores the intersections of disability, sexuality and gender. It reveals how we are all capable of being both the hero and the villain, the oppressor and the oppressed. She shares her ever-evolving feminist, queer, intersectional political insight through comedy, burlesque adn drama, shining light on dirty little secrets, both internally and in the world arround her. My writing also explores this cumulative trauma as I blunder toward authenticity. I’ve been told others see my commitment to authenticity as bravery, but I know it is actually a deep acceptance of my blatant failure to pass as normal anything.
Terry discovered Shakespeare while at UT, pioneering cross-dressing performance of comic male roles in Shakespeare at the Winedale Summer Theater Festival. I performed the words of Shakespeare for the first time this year. Something I know I would have attempted earlier, if I had seen a butch woman on stage, if I had seen Terry in a production.
Terry has been writing, performing, producing, and directing over the last 40 years. She won grants, fellowships and awards in theater, literature, radio and video from organizations all over the United States and in Europe. During this same time period, I recognized I was A.D.D., started medication and went to graduate school in the Bay Area and became an ordained minister.
In 2019 Terry had what is probably a “World’s First” experience. Her play Lardo Weeping was adapted into a short opera for Local Opera Local Artists (LOLA) here in Austin, by Peter Stopschinski. I would bet Terry is the first playwright who wrote a play as a deaf woman and years later was able to listen to it as an opera. She is still deaf, but now she can hear thanks to cochlear implants. So, she can now experience her work for the first time, in a whole new way. In 2019, I wrote my first play Monkey Lights, produced by TILT Performance Group, as part of the FLIPSIDE REDUX production.
Terry has built a legacy of initiation and innovation, co-founding new companies, including Esther’s Follies in Austin, Texas and Actual Lives with Art Spark Texas. I prefer to sneak in my insights and brilliant ideas while providing emotional support, carrying the bags, measuring frames and making the tea for whomever is forging the path.
Terry declares she loves comedy, humor and bad jokes. She loves to have fun and be playful. Terry’s art can be challenging for some people, but even on video, her performances are always authentic, embodied, physical, and intellectually brilliant. I have spent the last 30 years teaching myself to play, and take risks having fun first as a performer, then as an actor, and then eventually applying this vulnerability to the rest of my life.
This week, between watching Terry Galloway videos and listening to her podcasts, I’ve been reading the book “Bad Feminist” by Roxanne Gay. Like my discovery of Terry Galloway, despite the glaring differences in our backgrounds and experiences, I find myself seen and validated by Gay’s insights. What I appreciate about them both is their courage, their outsider POV that gives them the ability to reveal sacred cows and make unique connections.
Because of my natural resistance to blind conformity combined with my Gemini tendency to see numerous POVs, and my low tolerance for inauthenticity, I have playfully referred to myself as a “Bad Feminist” for years. The fact that I have missed out on the work of Terry Galloway until now, I think I will have to change to, “I am a Bad Butch-Lesbian-Disabled-Writer-Activist-Actor-with queer tendencies… oh and Feminist too.”
I hope I will be blessed enough to have the opportunity to train or work with Terry some day and it is my wish for those of you who haven’t discovered her work yet, to do so soon.
Terry will be joining Art Spark for our virtual COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS / ARTIST ROUNDTABLES on Wednesday, July 22nd–7:00 PM.
To join us for our conversation with Terry Galloway, watch for our announcements on social media, or email [email protected] for the Go To Meeting link.
If you want to learn more about Terry and experience some of her work, visit http://www.theterrygalloway.com.
To learn more about the company she founded and runs today in Florida with her wife Donna Marie Nudd, visit http://www.mickeefaust.com.
“I love performance you know, I truly do and I think there’s nothing like being in the room and you know particularly if it works the way you want it to, you know cathartic, yeah that’s something.”