I'm a producing playwright with The Welders. I’ll explain.

The original Welders, along with Welders 2.0 and 3.0, looking sharp (Photo courtesy of Manaf Azzam  )

The original Welders, along with Welders 2.0 and 3.0, looking sharp (Photo courtesy of Manaf Azzam )

Imagine if opportunity was like a banana peel that you tripped and fell over on your way to work. You’re on the ground and look around disoriented, but then you find a $20 bill lying on the ground next to you.

I was just sitting here, living my life. I had only just begun to see myself playwriting. I was working strictly on creative fiction, and through my work and growth with FRESHH Incorporated Theatre Company, I ended up writing and having my work produced on stage. Like, actors and errthang! The feeling of seeing people spit out my words and give them life was absolutely amazing and addicting. I knew that I wanted to do more of that. Although at the time, I hadn’t given it serious thought as to how.

I had heard of The Welders before and even crossed paths in a “six degrees of separation” sort of way. The Welders is a collective of playwrights that support each other and help each other get there plays fully produced. A few years ago, this group of playwrights, after successful seasons of original work in the DC area, sought to pass on the organization in its entirety (funds, resources, board of directors, and all) to another group of emerging playwrights so that they may do the same. Welders 2.0, as they are dubbed, had begun the process of passing on the organization to another group of playwrights and theatre artists. This new group would be Welders 3.0.

The application process for Welders 3.0 had opened right around the time when I had just gotten comfortable with identifying myself as a writer. As in, when someone asks you what you do, I just learned to stop saying, “I write,” and start saying, “I’m a writer.” When I was approached by a person gathering a group of writers to apply for The Welders, I decided that this was a chance to truly take my artistry seriously.

My cohort: Jared Shamberger, JR “Nexus” Russ, Sisi Reid, myself, Farah Lawal Harris, and Cat Frost

My cohort: Jared Shamberger, JR “Nexus” Russ, Sisi Reid, myself, Farah Lawal Harris, and Cat Frost

A couple of months later, I ended up joining a group of theatre artists whose work I enjoyed and whom I respected. I knew—as we were discussing our projects— should our application to lead The Welders be accepted, that I’d not only support and advocate for their projects wholeheartedly, but that each of them had something that I could learn to grow as a playwright and as a member of the DC arts community.

We applied.

We were accepted.

(See! Banana peel with a $20 bill!)

We vow to produce work that centers the spectrum of Black identities. We vow to produce work that strengthens the Black creative economy in DC. We vow to create opportunities to gather, discuss and process issues that matter to Black people. We promise to bring excellent stories to the stage that everyone will enjoy.

As Welders 3.0, we’ll officially start producing our work in January 2020. I’m so excited to learn. I’m gonna learn so hard, y’all! I’m going to strengthen my writing, grow in confidence as an artist and writer, and take these skills and opportunities and pass them on to folks from marginalized communities that could use them to thrive. What an honor.

Learn more about The Welders HERE, learn about Welders 3.0 HERE, and make a donation for the cause HERE!

-BAB