Arts and Theater

Cultivating Abundance Through Community Care with Nicole C. Limón


 

Nicole C. Limón: I remember one day sitting in rehearsal, and I was so grateful to myself, to my ancestors, to my grandmother, to my family, to my mom, for making sure that I always showed up as myself. Because here I am sitting in this rehearsal room, being who I am, and showing up 100 percent as Nicole—authentically Nicole. And that’s what I want for my other teatristas theatre workers community. In Matriarchy Theatre, you always get to show up as who you are and you will be cared for and you will be valued, and you’ll be seen, and you will be loved, and there’s a place for you. And we get to create what theatre is. Nobody’s going to tell us what it is. We get to say what it is.

Yura Sapi: You are listening to Building our Own Tables, a podcast produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. I’m your host, Yura Sapi, and I’m the founder of various organizations and projects, including a 501c3 nonprofit, a six hectare farm and food sovereignty project, and LGBTQ+ healing and art space, and I’ve helped numerous creatives, leaders, and other founders unleash their excellence into the world through my programs, workshops, and coaching services.

In this podcast, I’m showcasing the high vibration solutions for you, as a visionary leader, to implement into your own practice and thrive. Stay tuned this season to hear from other founders who have built their own tables for their communities and for the world in this evolutionary time on earth. You are here for a reason and I am so honored and grateful to support you on your journey. So stay tuned and enjoy.

Community unlocks abundance. We have gone through this in the podcast before. Bonus points if you can identify which episode. In today’s episode, I got to interview Nicole Limón, and we discussed all kinds of leadership tips and strategies as usual, really centering around the opportunity that comes from what it means to build your community, what it means to support community, to give and to receive from community, and to operate from this community centered way of leadership. Nicole is such an amazing example and role model in this way with her new theatre company, Matriarchy Theatre. Go ahead and enjoy this episode. We discussed fundraising strategies and tips, the power of mantra meditation for you, as a leader and founder, and the journey of finding your name for the project or organization you are creating and the journey, overall, of what it’s like to really go from an idea to a manifestation of your idea into this 3D earthly realm. So I hope you enjoy this amazing episode.

Before we get into this episode, go ahead and hit subscribe on this podcast. This is the best way to stay updated on new episodes and it helps build a thriving planet where all beings experience joy and harmony with each other and Mother Earth. So go ahead and hit subscribe and keep this good energy flowing.

Welcome to the podcast, Nicole. Thank you so much for being here.

Nicole: Thank you for inviting me. I’m really excited to talk to you.

Yura: Yes, me too. So my first question is, tell us about your superhero origin story. So what is the pivotal moment that led you to forge your own path and build your own table?

Nicole: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it was probably both a long and immediate process because I was raised with such unconditional love in my family. I knew my value, I knew I was loved, I knew I was cared for. As a young person, I felt like I was smart. I think when I got to college, there was this instant invisibilization of people who looked like me and walked through the world looking like me, and to me, that was a very kind of shock. I wasn’t used to that sort of an experience, and that was in the theatre department and not getting cast, not getting called back, just to do what I love, which is telling stories.

And very quickly after that, I met a friend and we started our own little company and it was called Movimiento Molcajete, and it was a duo—two performers, and we started writing our own work and touring our own work, and we realized immediately that there was an audience for our stories. There was an audience for people who look like us, that there was no lack of embracing of our stories. And I was probably in my early twenties at the time, and we did that for several years. We were able to make a living just going to small communities, to community colleges, to tribal communities, to festivals and to art galleries, et cetera, being invited to share our work. We knew there was value and that it was directly for our community, and I think that was really important.

Fast forward many years, I wanted to create a larger theatre company to give that sort of an experience to other theatremakers and other people who are just curious about the theatre world or performing or storytelling. And so Matriarchy Theatre was a kernel for many years before it became matriarchy in what, 2020, 2021. It was really just having other people be seen, too. So I feel like that’s the superpower is like, I see you and I want you to see yourself. That’s the gift.

Yura: I love that. I’m curious about having started in 2020, 2021, at this transformative moment for the planet and for humanity. Also marking a future that’s here and coming in terms of a lot of the shifts that we have seen and are going to see for the planet, for humans on it, and theatre as a specific community of that, really representing the human experience. So I’m curious about this time that you decided to come out and now, how has that been and what are you reflecting on since that beginning?

Nicole: So like I said, it had been a kernel for a long time. And actually in 2016, I left my full-time gig, my day job where I was making a living and taking care of my family and my children, but really just not, my soul was not happy. I had been there for almost ten years and I left because I wanted to just focus on my art and my teaching. I was also teaching part-time at Sac State at the time, so working full-time job, teaching part-time, doing my theatre. And I just wanted to focus on building my art world and really reconnecting to that. And so my intention was to start Matriarchy back then. I didn’t have the name, yet. I still just knew it was a theatre ensemble or a collective or a company. I didn’t know what it was going to be, just something.

And at that time, my dear friend and mentor and former professor, Manuel Pickett, asked me to help him save and sustain his company, Teatro Espejo, which is celebrating fifty years next year. And he’s just like, I need help. And I thought that was a really beautiful thing to reach out to ask for help. And he asked me to direct the next main stage show. He’s like, I’m tired. As leaders, we’re often doing this by ourselves, even though we have a lot of people come to the table to collaborate on a show, behind the scenes, it’s often just us running it.

So after conversations with him and other folks, I decided to really commit some time to that. So I said, internally, I was like, okay, I’m going to give this maybe five years to just help save this company. It had been a company that was a part of Sacramento State University on campus until 2012 when he retired. He then moved it out into the community, and so I helped to create a 501c3, we founded a board, I was the first board president, recruiting people, outreaching, bridging the gap of generations between him and the people under me, and just coming, or under the generation and really working to sustain that and grow that while still wanting to start my company. I knew that there’s so much value in Teatro Espejo, and it was where I was born and raised, as a teatrista, and where I really learned about theatre for social change and community care. And so it was just such a joy and such a passion to do that.

And then at some point around 2020, ’21, when theatre started going into these little podcasts in cubicles, in Zoom rooms, and I think I directed about three or four Zoom plays, I think I just finally had some time to settle because Teatro Espejo had taken a break from being in a theatre. We were still doing Zoom theatre, but I had some time, and I think it was that time that at some point the name came to me. I never really knew what I wanted to name the theatre company, and one day I just was like Matriarchy Theatre. And so I remember immediately just doing a search, checking it, googling it, seeing is there already a Matriarchy Theatre? Is there the dot com available, because I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes and I would want to uplift their work. And I was surprised that I was like, wow, there isn’t one, yet. Of course there’s lots of matriarchy projects and everything, which is like to me, it’s community.

So I immediately went and got the domains, and I remember the next day, during the pandemic, there were, we had the racial uprising and I was supporting a lot of my students of color who were going through it and themselves becoming leaders and activists and creating organizations around social change and racial injustices and calibrating those injustices. Because of that, I had formed a beautiful collective formed under my friend, Nicole Manker, called The Communities of Color Collective. And it was primarily adjunct faculty from the university, and we would meet every week on Zoom, every week for almost two years. And so the next day that I came up with the name, I remember meeting with them and I said, I have a name for my theatre company.

And they were like, what is it? And I told them, and I just remember, I still get a visceral feeling of their reaction to the name landing with such resonance and such power and the celebration emojis in the zoom window. And I knew I had found the right thing because it wasn’t just a name, but it was such an intention, such a big intention. And so that really, I felt like it took that time of the kernel and then those years dedicated to Teatro Espejo, for I think the universe and ancestors to give me the gift of Matriarchy Theatre, and then I can go forward with what my mission is. Yeah.

Yura: That’s so beautiful, yes, and I love everything I’m hearing bridging this ancestral wisdom, really, of the power of a name, the power of receiving a divine information coming through that just is a knowing of when it’s the right time.

Nicole: Yeah.

Yura: When that information comes through, for anybody who’s listening, who maybe is thinking about starting a project and you don’t have the name, yet, being able to flow with that, with that journey of getting the name and knowing what it is that you’re doing and also meant to be doing. And then when it comes through, really going ahead and taking the steps to follow this vision. And I love, too, the offering of community as a part of it, this community group that you had been a part of in providing a space for others to share and a space for you to share and be heard.

So I feel like that’s also really important thing to note for others who might be in this process, to really have that community, have that space of people that you can go to, and share, and celebrate wins, and also have that space to be supported. And then also, the tips I’m hearing around, too, going forth and getting those domains and searching to see if it’s something that legally, in this way that we operate, other people have already been doing both for yes, the whole trademark and legal side of it, but also the community side of it is that wanting to uplift what others have already been working on. So I just wanted to reflect back all this amazing wisdom, suggestions, and experience that you’ve gone through to share with listeners.

Nicole: Yeah, thank you. It’s nice to have that because sometimes we don’t see it ourselves. We’re just in the doing. So in the receiving that, I appreciate that.

Yura: Yeah, and definitely there’s a lot of questions that come through, and I’m sure you still have questions. I still have questions about things that we are doing, so it’s always good to be able to find those spaces to ask.

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So my next question; imagine if you are giving a pep talk to this younger version of yourself. What are the words of encouragement and wisdom that you would share?

Nicole: That’s such an interesting question because I feel like part of me does that with my students. In retrospect where we’re able to see we could have done X, Y, Z and been just okay, it wasn’t as scary as I had thought it was. And so I really try to empower my students with those things.

So for me, I think I would’ve told my younger self, particularly maybe my college age self, is to speak up more. I think it was a process I had to have for my life because in my real life, when I’m not in my theatre or my teaching, I’m pretty introverted. I’m very much just sitting back and observing. I can feel much more comfortable speaking, maybe, in front of ten thousand people than on a one-to-one. I’ve gotten much better with it, but I think that’s what I would tell my younger self is to speak up more. Right now, for example, I tell my students, go talk to your professors. They’re just people and they want to help you. They want to connect with you. I tell my son that, too. Go talk to your teachers. Go make a connection. He sees how much of a difference it makes, even though it’s scary for him to make the connection.

So for me, it’s just making connections, and I think it’s still a lesson that I’m learning, so I can tell people do this, but still having to practice that for myself, because I think one of the things that we do, I think as community folks, I feel like I’m always uplifting other people. I love that. And then sometimes I’m like, oh, I could uplift myself, too. I can open doors for myself, as well. And so I think this last year I was able to do that, and that was probably the older version of me telling the younger version of me, you can do this for you, too. You’re part of the community. You’re part of the community that you’re caring for. So yeah, speak up. Speak up.

Yura: Yeah. Well, tell us more about what this last year has brought you.

Nicole: Yeah. Abundance. And I would say probably from 2022 and 2023 were just overwhelmingly abundant, and joyous, and just seeing things come to fruition and offerings coming in, in a way that I hadn’t really experienced before. In 2022, I actually, we finally staged our first full performance for Matriarchy Theatre, a play called Quantum by Tara Moses, and it was a beautiful experience. And I would say that at that time, I had finally launched Matriarchy, said, we’re here, we’ve been born, here’s the name. And then I did a small GoFundMe and I hate asking for money. I’m not a good fundraiser, I just don’t like doing it. And so I put it out there, which was a huge ask for me. It’s the speak up thing that we didn’t do too well. It did pretty good. We had a little bit of donations and I was so grateful for that, but we didn’t get anywhere near the ask that I was hoping for, but we still ended up getting that by other means.

So at some point, the board of Teatro Espejo came to me and said, “We would like to fund your first production for Matriarchy Theatre.” And so they gave me a lovely budget to put this show on, and I thought that was amazing. I cried. I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting that, and it still gives me tears. I was able to do every single thing that you need to do for production. All my artists were paid, all the designers and creatives were paid, we rented the venue, we paid for the rights, we did publicity, everything that under the sun, they even paid me. Teatro Espejo paid me to direct my show for my company. Which that was not something I was expecting. And it was, again, a gift that I didn’t do things for Teatro to get things back like that, but it was just started. And all of this abundance really started snowballing in such unexpected ways.

I also started doing mantras just around welcoming those things, and the abundance, and the care, and I’m cared for, and the universe will do what’s right for me as long as I’m putting good out into the world. And that was 2022. And then I also, as much as I don’t like asking for money, I also am not really a big fan of writing grants because I want to spend that time making my art right. But I did, I finally applied for a grant and I received an NEA grant, which was huge. It was probably the first grant I had applied for in years. And I got the grant and I have to give big props to the grant advisor I had talked to prior to applying. He gave me some really good advice. And then I was able to put that funds towards a project that we put on stage in 2023.

And a long story short, in 2023, at some point, I did that thing where I took my own advice and spoke up for myself. A director put a call out for a dramaturg in the community, and her name is Dina Martinez, and she’s such a trailblazer, and such a beautiful human, and she’s a director and an actor. And I immediately answered like, oh, I suggested somebody, and I said, “I can do it, but also there’s this other person,” I don’t like putting myself out there, but she immediately messaged me back and said, “I want you as my dramaturg.”

Yura: That’s cool.

Nicole: I know. Because it’s, I’ve been doing dramaturgy for a long time, but never “professionally” or where I’m actually being credited for my work. And so her bringing me on board to do that opened a bunch of doors for me to continue doing dramaturgy, to continue doing my intimacy choreography work. And she actually came to speak to my class the other day because I’m doing dramaturgy for her production of Fade right now. And I told her I’m always opening doors for people. And I said, “I want to thank you so much for opening doors for me,” because I’m usually not putting myself out for opportunities like that. I’m always just making sure that all my people have opportunities. And so I said, “I’m so grateful for you, at my ripe old age, giving me the chance to do that.” And so that’s, to me, that’s the community care. That’s the community care. And it’s also a testament to women having each other’s backs. Yeah, women of color, having each other’s backs.

Yura: Matriarchy.

Nicole: It’s been an amazing two years.

Yura: Yes. I’m so happy for you.

Nicole: Thank you.

Yura: I love everything, all of this manifestation work. That’s definitely something that I really resonate with and understand. And just what you were saying about putting the GoFundMe out there and still getting everything you needed, just in a different way. So I think that’s a big part of a manifestation of when you have a vision and you create a plan, being able to flow with what the universe gives you that actually can sometimes be even more than you could have imagined than what you planned for.

And then I love the use of the mantra meditations. That’s something also that I have gotten into and even gotten trained in, now, is a meditation teacher.

Nicole: Oh, really?

Yura: Yeah. And the type of meditation uses mantras in this way.

Nicole: Nice.

Yura: Because, so some of the science, if anybody is interested, it’s called the Reticular Activating System, and basically, it’s this part of our brain that allows for a type of signal, a type of GPS coordinates input for us. It’s like when a dog gets a scent and then is able to have that scent available and what it’s able to be looking for and finding outside in the world. So in that same way, when we use mantras, when we use an affirmation, when we visualize something very specifically, we are calling that energy into our own, and therefore, start to notice it when it’s around us. So maybe it always was there. Maybe there was always someone who had information or who was the next step to something that you were looking for, but you never had the conversation about it, or maybe you end up going to an event that just intuitively calls to you and you sit next to the person that exactly is needing is giving you what you need.

So that’s the beauty and the work of this, affirmations of this meditation of this kind of calling and really focusing in our power as humans. So I’m so happy for you and all of the amazing success you’ve had, the abundance, the shift into that perspective. And I also will say Tara Moses, amazing person, we’ve had her on the podcast.

Nicole: So nice to talk to.

Yura: So you can check out that episode.

Nicole: I totally will. I totally will. We did an interview, or what do you call it, Instagram live with her, I think on opening night when we did her show. I love her, yeah. And I’ve read all of her plays at our NPX. I’ve read every single one. They’re just so great. Yeah.

Yura: Yeah. I also would love to tap more into the conversation on fundraising, I think. Yeah. Let’s get into a little offering of tips because you have some information on grant writing and I can definitely share on the individual giving. So the crowdfunding, I actually have an article that I wrote a couple years ago interviewing the Movement Theatre Company and giving ten tips for crowdfunding campaigns because actually, the successful campaigns worked in a similar way that you ended up working with, in terms of having people that were already organizations or people that were already committed to the project before launching the crowdfunding campaign. And this actually functions a lot in the way that individual and fundraising strategies and departments work. This is from my learnings from graduate school and from working at the Public Theater, actually.

Nicole: Oh, nice.

Yura: So there’s basically strategy that goes on before you even go public about a fundraising campaign. So this is where also if you’re able to secure a matching gift, so someone who is going to match a certain amount of donations, you’re able to then actually bring that in into the crowdfunding space. And a lot of people are very motivated by the idea and the knowing that their donation will be worth double, in terms of if they give, this money will be matched. And so there’s that tip.

There’s also letting people know about your crowdfunding campaign before you launch it so that you have people that are already going to donate in those first few days.

Open yourself up to receiving support, receiving wisdom… There’s plenty of things that we can turn to people who have done these things, who have experience, who have the wisdom and receive that. 

Nicole: I’m going to write these tips down. They’re such good tips.

Yura: Building the momentum. I’ll add the link in the show notes, as well, to this article. Yeah, there’s so much strategy, so much support that you can have over individual giving, and really all of these aspects of leadership. I think with this community aspect, too, for listeners to really open yourself up to receiving support, receiving wisdom. As leaders, as founders, we are often called to do a lot, if not everything. So there’s plenty of things that we can turn to people who have done these things, who have experience, who have the wisdom and receive that. So now I’ll pass it to you and if you’d like to share some of the tips you got on grant writing.

Nicole: I would say, because I’m not a huge grant writer, and I’m not, I would say that particular grant, the reason that I applied for it was because it was an individual artist grant, and you got to just propose the project you wanted to. You didn’t have to fit into a box, which, for me, is really challenging. I want organizations that I work with to organically create, from the heart, what they want, not to try to check off boxes. And so that’s what drew me to that particular grant.

So I had an advising session and going in, I knew that I had two ideas in mind, and I knew that whether or not I got the grant, I was still going to do those projects. And I think that, for me, was like, we either are going to get this support or we’re not, but we’re still going to forge forward and we’re going to do the project, we’re going to figure out how to do it. So I proposed two projects, and I spent most of the advising session talking about one particular project, and the advisor was so generous with their time and advice, and that project was Quantum by Tara Moses, that was that. I think it was before I set up the GoFundMe, I don’t remember. And I said, so I want to do this play. And the very end, we were about, our advising session went on for a while because we were having such a great conversation. And then at the end I said, “Oh, let me just tell you about my other idea.” I proposed the idea. And he goes, “That’s the one. Apply for that.” And I was like, okay.

So he gave me, he talked for me for maybe a minute and then he had to go because we had already been going over time, and I was like, okay. So I think one, it was a clear idea. Two, it was from such an authentic place, and three, it was, I already knew I was going to do it regardless of whether or not I got external funding or this particular grant. And that ended up being my project Just A Pinch: A Uterus Play about health advocacy around women and women plus, people with uteruses, reproductive care at outpatient appointments. And so we got the grant for that. And again, I knew it was a project that I was going to do regardless because it didn’t check off boxes for others, it was aligned with what we wanted to do with Matriarchy Theatre.

Yura: I love that. It also reflects back to this manifesting speech I was talking about, in terms of you have what you are wanting to do. And so with that core, you’re able to attract the things that will help you by sticking to that, that core thing of what you’re looking to manifest.

And I love the tips of seeing if you’re the right fit, energetically. You can almost know when you read a description, is this right for me? Is this, are they looking for something else? Almost scanning through if it’s something that has some red flags or there’s all kinds of things that you might want to be aware of when you’re applying for a grant, in terms of what do they require for the reporting. Similarly, the match. A matching aspect to it where you need to be raising funds for it to be able to get that, which I think this also ties to your second recommendation around really knowing that you’re going to do a project and having other options out there that can, actually, for a lot of grant opportunities, really support your application because whether they have a matching component to it that you do need to be able to have other funds coming in. But also there’s this aspect of saying, these are the other ways that we’re getting support for this, these are other partners that are already with us, these are the ways that we’re going to do this. And so a lot of times, grants and organizations and people want to support something that is being supported by others. And so joining in on the community aspect of being able to co-produce something. So yeah, I love those tips and I really hope that it helps for people who are listening.

Nicole: Also, I really love that you were talking about scanning the grant to see if it’s right for you. And I think one of the things I always say, my favorite thing about being an artist is that I get to be around other artists. So when we’re scanning those, a lot of times I know that if we aren’t the right fit, that we’re sending it to other people because there’s enough for everybody. There’s going to be times when I don’t get the funding, but my friend or organizations that I love are getting the funding, and I feel like there’s enough for everyone to go around. And so if it’s not for you, send it to the person you think it is, because we’re all working to do the same thing, which is bringing beautiful art into the world.

Yura: I love that. And that goes back to what you were saying, too, about the jobs that come around. It’s beautiful. Yeah. I actually, I have this network of visionaries, free community forum that I’ve started where I can post all kinds of healing and teaching information about this type of work for leaders and founders and visionaries, and then also, there’s a one for grant opportunities where I just post all kinds of grant opportunities. I used to have a newsletter, but this I found it a little bit easier for me to just post it in there and then it’s on there and anyone can see it. The past history, too.

Nicole: I always feel so loved when somebody sends me a link to a grant. Even if it’s, I look at it and I’m like, oh, it’s not for me. I just feel so loved when they’re like, here, you might qualify for this. I’m like, thank you. I appreciate you thinking about me.

Yura: Yeah, it’s good energy. It’s receiving that support, that prayer from another that you want to see.

Nicole: That belief and faith in your work, yeah.

Yura: Amazing. I have another question for you about your ideas and thoughts around the future of the theatre industry. As the theatre industry evolves, what do you believe it’s asking of us as creators and leaders?

As the theatre world evolves, I don’t think we answer to it. I think the theatre world answers to us.

Nicole: Your questions are so good. I think the theatre world is such a big entity because community is so important to me. I don’t care to answer to the theatre field or the theatre world. I care to answer to my community, and theatre is the means by which we get there. The storytelling is the means by which we get there. I will say that as leaders, when I’m thinking about people who are part of our community, whether they’re youth, or younger people, or older people, they want us to be, for me, when I’m leading, I usually start with: I’m fallible. I will make mistakes. I don’t have all the answers, but I know what my goal is and I know what my mission is, and I know that I come with good heart to try to do this thing, and you’re welcome to come in and bring your energy.

So I think leading in a way where we’re human and we show up as our authentic selves, and that we’re willing to apologize if we make a mistake, and be that human person, but also try to hold ourselves up to a standard where it’s not the regular thing that we’re making a mistake, but that we don’t have all the answers. I think that’s one thing. And I think another thing as a leader is to get out of the way so that other people can lead. So I’ve said since I started Matriarchy is that I’m not building Matriarchy for me. I’m building it so that I can give it away five, ten years down the road. We’ve built this thing together, now take it if you want it. It’s just carving out a space that we get to collectively create, and so that we’re leading together. I might be the person who started the thing, but I can’t continue it alone. What is even the point of that?

We talk often about the notion of decolonization, and I also talk sometimes about a pre colonized space where we are flattening the hierarchy, and that’s something that I try to do within Matriarchy is we definitely have people who have roles as the director, or the artistic director, or the lead, or whatever the case may be. But when it comes to the community care, we try to flatten the hierarchy while also having channels in place should, we just did Just A Pinch and we had a wonderful artist, Bessie Zolno, come in and talk consent, and boundaries, and mental health advocacy, and conflict resolution. And we had a chain of, if you are having an issue and you haven’t been able to talk it out one-on-one, you’re going to go to this person. If it’s an issue with Nicole, you can go to the board. If you have an issue with the board, we don’t have a board, we have guiding matriarch. You can go to a guiding matriarch. If not, then you can go talk to Bessie, so that everybody feels truly cared for and that they have a voice.

And so I think it’s about getting out of the way of these notions of what is a leader. Just like I like to get out of the way with the notions of what is professional actor? What is a professional theatre? My standards are not the standards of a PWI. I don’t try to align to that. Professional is what we want it to be, what we want it to look like. And so as the theatre world evolves, I don’t think we answer to it. I think the theatre world answers to us, to a certain degree.

Yura: That’s beautiful. Thank you so much. Right, I have one more question for you. So reflecting on your journey, what has been the most rewarding aspect of carving your own path and building your own table?

Nicole: Yeah. I would say, man, it’s been a long journey, but very, very intentional. I think one of the things, when we are building our own tables or creating our own path, it’s because we know that the other tables don’t fit. I didn’t even want to be at the other tables. You know what I mean? A lot of us aspire to the X, Y and Z because that’s what it looks like. I never really did. I just wanted to show up as myself. And so I said no to a lot of projects because they didn’t align with my core and my heart. And I’ve had conversations with other theatremakers where it’s like they feel like their career suffered because of having to say no to things that they believed in. And I certainly feel like, yeah, I had an intention to show up a way that I wanted to show up. And so I had to say no to a lot of things.

And I’m okay with that because I also have the other end of the spectrum where I have friends that say they’re doing well in their career, but they had to compromise who they were. And so they’re in a place right now where they’re really, really going up against a battle with a lot of just different things, and I think that we can all understand that. And I didn’t want that to be my battle. I was like, that’s not my battle. Why should I be battling that when I can be creating something beautiful? And so for me, the biggest reward, and I’ve really recognized this the last couple years as I’ve been pushing forward with Matriarchy, and also in my freelance work as a director, and a dramaturg, and an intimacy choreographer.

I remember one day sitting in rehearsal and I was so grateful to myself, to my ancestors, to my grandmother, to my family, to my mom, for making sure that I always showed up as myself. Because here I am sitting in this rehearsal room being who I am and showing up 100 percent as Nicole— authentically Nicole. It took me a really long time to get here and get in this room, but I’m me. And they’re embracing me and accepting me and seeing me, as me. And that is the biggest reward, and that’s what I want for my other teatristas, theatre workers, community. In Matriarchy Theatre, you always get to show up as who you are, and you will be cared for, and you’ll be valued, and you’ll be seen, and you’ll be loved, and there’s a place for you. And we get to create what theatre is. Nobody’s going to tell us what it is. We get to say what it is.

Yura: Yes. Amazing. Thank you so much, Nicole. Yes, everyone, please go ahead and follow, subscribe, like, Matriarchy Theatre. You can find them on Instagram. Right?

Nicole: Mm-hmm.

Yura: And thank you so much, again, for joining us today. It’s been such a pleasure and honor.

Nicole: Thank you. It’s been such an honor, and I’m just really grateful for this time with you. Thank you so much, Yura.

Yura: This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. You can find more episodes of this show and other HowlRound shows wherever you find podcasts. Be sure to search with the keyword HowlRound, and subscribe to receive new episodes.

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