Member Spotlight: Briyana Clarel (Austin, TX)
MFA Candidate Drama and Theatre for Youth and Communities @UT Austin
Briyana Clarel is a young, gifted, and black queer focusing their energy on loving their communities through the arts, education, and organizing. Briyana currently is a second year MFA candidate in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin using the arts with (trans and queer) people of color to learn, grow, and heal. A performer and writer since growing up in South Jersey, they are passionate about musical theatre, mangoes, and memoirs. After graduating from Princeton University with a BA in Sociology in 2013, Briyana worked with several youth-focused nonprofits in New York City as an educator, coordinator, and fundraiser. While in NYC, they organized the first Queer and Trans People of Color Holiday Fair and performed at the Dixon Place HOT! Festival and the Aroma Theatre Collaborative’s first showcase. Their writing has been published in Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge & Resilience and After Ferguson, In Solidarity, and they are a 2016 recipient of Acts of Greatness’ LGBTQ Youth Community Award.
What’s Been Going On:
This semester, Briyana has deepened their research and artistic practice in courses with professors Lisa B. Thompson and Charles O. Anderson. They coordinated the University Interscholastic League conference on UT’s campus for the second year in a row. For the conference, they also led a panel called “Seeing Ourselves: Representation on the Stage & Screen” and co-facilitated a workshop on inclusive theatre. This semester, they also led a series of Creative Community Building sessions for undergraduate women in UT’s INSPIRE leadership program.
This September, Briyana performed a staged reading of their new solo show, unboxed. unboxed is a solo autobiographical performance piece unveiling a black queer experience with attraction, gender, inheritance, food, and truth. a journey through twenty-something years of being Other in movement, storytelling, and spoken truths. an unpacking of pain and celebration of beauty, of moving out and moving on. going back to dedicate time to unraveling the tangles and knots, focusing on the trauma that has been boxed away, making time and space for healing. this piece is history, is present, is future. shifting through shiny scarves, sobs, sleepovers, and snacks, seeking something like home.
This November, Briyana travelled to Chicago to present at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Studies Association entitled Pedagogies of Dissent. Their paper, “An Exercise in Unapologetics: Centering Black Queerness as Self Care and Pedagogy” was on the panel entitled Radical Self Love as Decolonial Education with presenters Jessica Samuel, Meredith McCoy, and Yamil Avivi, chaired by Michelle Tellez.
Briyana’s solo show unboxed will be presented as part of the 2018 OUTsider festival in Austin, TX. The festival takes place February 14-18th.
Briyana is looking forward to spending the winter break hibernating on the east coast, catching up with loved ones, reading, writing, and drinking vegan hot chocolate. They are excited to continue scheming and dreaming up new plays and devised projects in the new year.
For more information on Briyana and their work, visit briyanaclarel.com.