I first had the privilege of meeting Cody at the Great Plains Theatre Conference a few years back. I was immediately a fan! Not only did his play grab me in a visceral way, but he was just a fun, compassionate, intelligent, and engaging human to be around. He also has excellent taste in bow-ties, which immediately told me this was someone I had to say “Hello” to. I am incredibly thankful that he has continued to let me say “Hello” over the years, as a friend and a peer, in this crazy theatrical world.
When I reached out to Cody with yet another “Hello…” and an invitation to be a part of our 2nd Heal the Divide residency, he was immediately on board and I was immediately super excited. I can’t wait to see what he shares with us over the next three months! In the meantime, I encourage you to get to know a little more about Cody by reading our interview below.
What about our Heal the Divide project captured your interested/why did you decide to participate in this initiative?
These days, when you’re asked to do something that counters the mess we’re in, how can you say no? And I think the intersection of the arts, community and activism — which this project exemplifies — is one of the most reliable routes for making change.
What areas of concern in your community do you find yourself curious about or interested in considering for this project?
I’m interested in how the queer community is dealing with other forms of oppression: how are queer folks dealing with racism? how are queer folks dealing with gender inequity? how are queer folks dealing with class? The community’s been, in the mainstream narrative, one issue for a long time — marriage equality — and now that marriage equality is a thing and we’re in the midst of an administration that’s attacking marginalized communities across the board, we’re figuring out how to be an engaged, political community all over again.
There have been a lot of discussions lately about what artists can do to “make a difference” in light of our current political spectrum. What do you think we can (or should) do? Or are there pitfalls we need to avoid?
I think we keep doing what we’ve always done: create worlds and tell stories that help people explore what it means to be human, what it means to live in this world together. But we have to be conscious of what we bring to the table and what stories we choose to tell. It’s easy for us to empathize with stories of communities and lives that aren’t our own, and it’s natural for us to want to amplify those stories and communities. But they’re not our stories to tell. Representation and appropriation are big important questions right now: we have to be careful not to become part of the harm we’re writing against.
What questions, as a playwright, are you most drawn to explore in your work?
How do we decide who we will be during moments of great loss? That’s basically the central question of almost everything I’ve written, and right now it seems a more appropriate question than ever.
Are you engaged in any other organizations fighting for change or progress that you want to give a shout out to?
My day job is at The Westport Library in Westport, CT. I’m the program specialist there, and I think libraries deserve a special shout out for being institutions of learning, of curiosity, of intellectual engagement, of community, of change.
What did you take away from reading the plays from our first residency?
I really liked this balance between the personal and the public that ran through these plays. It’s a wonderful by-product of the way this project is set up, and it’s a beautiful statement of how we need to be as citizens in the world. The personal is political. The political is political. And where those things bump into each other is where we live, work and attempt to get along together. These plays embody that. I dig that.
More About Cody: Cody Daigle-Orians is a Louisiana-born playwright and teaching artist now living in Hartford, CT. He is the program and events specialist at The Westport Library in Westport, Connecticut. He was the resident playwright for The Playhouse Tulsa’s 2013-2014 season, the company playwright for Acadiana Repertory Theatre and a company playwright for Manhattan Theatre Works. Plays for The Playhouse Tulsa: William and Judith, Tulsa! A Radio Christmas Spectacular, Little Women and The Bottom of the Sea. Plays for Acadiana Repertory Theatre: In the Bones, The Survivalists, and The Woman’s Part. Plays for Manhattan Theatre Works: Providence, A Home Across the Ocean. His work has been produced and/or developed at the Astoria Performing Arts Center, New Jersery Repertory Theatre, The Actors Company Theatre (NYC), The Growing Stage (Netcong, NJ), SNAP! Productions (Omaha, NE), Gadfly Theatre (Minneapolis, MN), StageRIGHT (Seattle, WA), Prologue Theatre Company (Chicago, IL) and the Great Plains Theatre Conference (Omaha, NE).