TODAY’S THEME: SELF-CARE
Available through The Ready’s windows and Facebook Live!
Created by Claire Bauman
Featuring Kaitlin Taylor
Producer: Ambrose Cappuccio | Website: Joseph Ramski | Marketing: Casey Chapman | Accessibility: Brenda Wlazlo
After party at The Grafton
Join us at 7pm!
4530 N Lincoln Ave
Say “Zebra” at the bar and get a deal on your beer!
NOTE: If you have feedback about the accessibility of this event, please contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org
What have you been up to? It’s a dreaded question. And answers tend to be lackluster. What have you been up to? Straining against the sides of our square containers, simultaneously, we have done so much and so little and have so much to say and yet so little.
So what happens if we watch? Does my little box look like yours? Please stay a while and watch. I promise it won’t be weird. Well, it is weird, but an allowed, communal, embrace-the-uncomfortable weird. If staring in-person isn’t your jam, please enjoy our photo gallery below and see what other Red Tape ensemble members have been up to in their lives or watch the Facebook Live stream to check in on what Kaitlin is doing now. And now. And right now. Right now.
May we strike up a new conversation. May we revel in, reveal, and share the highs and lows and inbetweens of our lives. And may we all take care of each other and ourselves.
Meet the Artists
Kaitlin (Kat) Taylor (she/her/they/them): I am often called a zebra within the disabled community. I was diagnosed with a new illness every few years in my 20’s. The three that have stuck are bi-polar disorder, hyper-mobility EDS, and lupus. These disorders require me to take steps to maintain the function of my body and mind. In practice, that means that over the years I have added to a long list I must do on a regular basis or else suffer consequences. Often I pick and choose which items I do based on urgency and deal with the health consequences of the items I don’t have time for.
I’ve often been told to hide my zebra stripes – to pretend to be well when I am not.
To work hard and hope that by doing so I’ll make myself valuable enough that when I ask for accommodations the company that I work for will want to help. In practice, every accommodation that I ask for is placed on an unconscious scoreboard. Every time I need help it’s a favor I have to pay it back in some way. And the harder I try to cover the stripes, the more it’s noticed when they inevitably appear.
During quarantine, without a commute, or the need to meet a dress code, I was able to accomplish my entire list consistently – and my health radically improved. I went from putting myself to bed at 6pm because I was so tired and in pain when I came home from work, to enjoying my days for the first time in years. At a time when many were suffering, I was in the best place I had been in my adult life. I also found a community of disabled people online who taught me that anyone who makes me feel like accommodations are a favor, who encourages me to hide my stripes, are in the wrong.
This month, I left my job after they announced a ‘return to office’ and told me they have no flexibility for me to work from home, even partially. It’s hard to shake the effect of all the advice, to think that if I had been nicer, more apologetic, that maybe they would have worked with me. That if I acted ashamed of my stripes, that maybe they’d want to help me out of pity. But I’m tired of pretending to be anything except who I am. I’m lucky to be able to quit, to have the financial flexibility to do so. Others do not have the same luxury. Chronic Illness isn’t a moral failing, and yet, chronically ill people often get treated like it is. Marginalized people are often asked to take on the burden of a world not made for them. As we reorganize our workplaces again we have a chance to make it more accommodating for everyone, to bring and keep diversity. Stand with those who struggle the most; something that might be loss of convenience for you might be the loss of quality of life for others.
It helps me, on days that make me want to scream, to keep in mind a quote from Mariame Kaba, “Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair.”
It helps me remember to take the frustration I feel and use it to fight for everyone. It also helps me to remember that the burden I feel is even heavier on other’s shoulders, that there are parts of the system even more broken, and that I must continue to fight for a better world, not just find a way to escape from it. Let’s work to create a world where the steps we take to care for ourselves, to give us a quality of life, is the point rather than the obstacle. I don’t want to have to live isolated to live well. I want to be able to show my stripes proudly.
Kat Taylor is a graduate of Point Park University. They are a disabled, queer, multimedia designer, production manager, and fundraiser who works for Red Tape Theatre, Waltzing Mechanics, and herself. You can find more info about Kat by clicking here.
Claire Bauman (she/her/hers) is a director and choreographer who investigates theater through devising and collaborating with an interdisciplinary and feminist lens. She is the Grants Manager and an ensemble member with Red Tape Theatre. Claire values process, iteration, observation, and communication. Learn more at clairebauman.weebly.com.
What Has Red Tape Theatre Been Up To?
Red Tape Theatre is currently located at 4546 N Western Avenue, in what is colonially known as the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. This theater sits upon the stolen land of the native Kickapoo, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Potawatomi, Myaamia, and Winnebago. We acknowledge that our predominantly white theatrical institution is built on stolen land, and this fact will continue to inform our work towards become an anti-racist, anti-colonial, equitable company for ourselves and our community.
Red Tape Theatre is supported by the following generous funders:
The MacArthur Funds for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency