Voices of Strength: Meena's Dream and Let it Flo at the Festival of New Works

This post is by Sisi Reid, a Junior Anthropology and Theatre Double Major.

Caroline Clay

Photo courtesy of Caroline Clay


The late activist Audre Lorde once said, “When I dare to be powerful to use my strength in the service of my vision then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” The same courageous voices are weaved throughout Anu Yadav’s and Caroline Clay’s MFA in Performance thesis presentations, both part of the Festival of New Works at the Clarice Smith Center. At first glance you wouldn’t think Yadav’s Meena’s Dream and Clay’s Let it Flo are very similar. Knowing each artist personally, reading their scripts, and seeing their rehearsals, I understand how beautifully they both communicate the struggle we have to confront, accept and utilize our own inner strength.

The raw vulnerability of profound characters teaches us that we all have a power within ourselves to both love and demand truth.

Yadav takes us on a magical journey centered around Meena, a 7-year-old Indian American girl who uses her love of dreams to discover her great power. Yadav switches from character to character with impressive focus. The innocence and joy of Meena is an enriching experience. Yadav's performance is so engaging that at many times my impulse was to jump onstage and play in the world she creates. Her performance echoes the nostalgic freedoms and carelessness that we feel as children. The breathtaking live music in her piece effectively adds an additional layer of resonating emotions. But beyond the powerful music, Meena’s journey to defeat personified common life battles, like anxiety, through her courage and naivety, teaches us that despite our perceived limitations, we have the strength to heal.

Clay as the late activist Flo Kennedy fully embodies the power to fight for truth. She opens the performance in darkness with the sound of her booming voice. Clay’s vibrant humor and “tell it like it is” attitude is shocking and engaging throughout the entirety of her performance. Clay creatively recreates Flo’s life by reminiscing about her possessions in a storage unit and transforms into key people in Flo’s life with flare and pizzazz. It is exciting to hear Flo’s story and to learn about such a dynamic individual. Through humor and honesty, Clay offers lessons of how one must demand for one’s self. It is through Flo’s life that we learn what it means to claim truth despite racial, financial and medical obstacles.

Yadav and Clay capture the essence of audacious girlhood and womanhood in unique ways. The raw vulnerability of profound characters teaches us that we all have a power within ourselves to both love and demand truth. Yadav and Clay have used their timeless wisdom, honed skills as performers and their keen awareness of self to create and perform transforming theatre works.