Alicia Thompson is an international thespian and playwright who hails from the “land of wood and water” know as Jamaica. She is the creative force behind Artistry is Ministry, which is an artistic platform Alicia uses to educate, share stories, effect change, inspire and spark dialogue. Alicia is known for her improvisational performances, folklore and one woman shows.
In 2016 Alicia created, staged and directed a one women show entitled "I Am My Hair" the show was a hit dealing with issues of self-image and acceptance of authentic beauty.
Some of her performances were at Yale University for the Bridgeport GEAR UP students and their parents, the Secret Theatre Solo Show Festival in New York, Resilient Women Empowerment Conference, Project Resiliency Women in the Arts, the Black Doll Affair, the InterACTion Symposium at Housatonic Community College, Stratford Partnership Coalition Freshman Forum, Martin Luther King, Jr Sit-In 2017, Flag Raising Ceremony for Jamaica’s 55th Independence Celebration at City Hall Annex in Bridgeport.
CEM did a Q & A with this talented actress and playwright to learn more about her work and creative process
How did you become a writer?
I started out by writing poetry many years ago just penning thoughts and feelings on paper. Sometimes I would recite them at various poetry venues, but it felt like I could create a story around the topic in the poems. It wasn’t until I sat down with a friend and decided to seriously write a one woman play about the social issues surrounding women of the diaspora and hair.
Your latest play, “I Am My Hair” can you tell us about the process of writing this play?
I started by writing down thoughts that entered my mind whether I was having a discussion, jump up from a deep sleep, in a meeting, or recording it in my phone if I was driving. I consider it as an artistically messy process of many thoughts, music, images and movement that swirled in my mind then landed on paper: kind of like going through mental labor. As I started to write the characters began to take form and I could actually hear myself talking as these characters to bring them to life. I tested out a few of the characters lines on one of my mentors and it felt gratifying. Then the script was finally done.
You have performed at Yale University GEAR UP, what was that like?
Honestly, it felt like any of my other performances in the sense that the butterflies filled my stomach before performing in front of any new audience. The room was filled with students their parents so I used it as an opportunity during the post-performance dialogue to try and draw them closer together as family. It was a moment of healing through the arts.
As an actress, what are some of the most memorable experiences and adventures that you had on stage? And how did these experiences shape your career as a playwright?
Oh wow! I would have to say each time I get to bring characters to life on stage I try to make it memorable. Aside from that one of the most memorable experiences I have had was being a cast member, not on stage but rather in a featured film entitled “Tobacco Burn” everyone was very respectful and valued each other from the Director, Producer, other actors involved in the project that have extensive careers were all working cohesively together for a successful project. That resulted in the project winning 16 film festival awards. The experiences I mentioned continue to help push me in wanting to be greater in my craft as a new playwright.
Which is easier being an actress or a playwright?
I personally find it easier to act because you have a script to follow and can get creative.
When you’re writing, what does an ideal writing day look like for you?
Hmmm… an ideal writing day is filled with jazz, neo soul, cultural reggae music flowing in my ears and sitting in my silver lounge chair or in bed asking God to help me not hit a blank space. I just want the words and thoughts to flow.
What inspires you?
Music, Art, my family, issues that I feel strongly about…yeah thought things.
Tell us about Artistry is Ministry
Artistry is Ministry is my entrepreneurship brand. It’s me, a one woman performance where I use theatrical arts to help heal others, share stories and spark dialogue. It’s also a part of my folklore performance which is a whole other side of me.
What advice do you have for playwrights starting out?
Just write. Write about stories that inspire you. Get your work out into the world. There is a need for artists such as you. Find mentors; keep honing in on your craft.
What other projects you are working on now?
I recently finished a project entitled “I Salute You Good Men” it was inspired by all the hate being used to oppress our men and how sometimes the good guys overlooked. I will be auditioning this project out in the near future. I am also working another project with a filmmaker where we are collaborating and will showcase our work in a unique way (can’t say yet)
Where can readers learn more about you and you work?
Readers can find out more about me at artistryisministry.com
Here is a synopsis of the show:
“I Am My Hair” is a one woman production of monologues that shares the stories of 6 different female characters, who deal with a variety of issues: self-image, acceptance, and conforming to be social acceptance in society. Most of the females either consciously or unconsciously conform to society’s standard of beauty. One of the character's (Mother Wise) has an epiphany about her beauty. She shares her story of a painful past and her wisdom with the world hoping to inspire others.