During hard times, it’s easy to feel far away from people. The first thing I was able to write, after a long time of feeling silent, came from a surge of courage as I remembered what Queen’s Professor, Kim Rendors taught me on this subject.
As a first-year Queen’s student, I had the pleasure of meeting Kim this year. The drama department, and Theo felt like home to me very quickly, and Kim was a large part of that feeling. I believe she must have changed the lives of everyone she met by making them feel stronger. Even in the brief time that I knew her, she forever changed how I think about power.
After talking to her, I learnt something that became vital to me this week. She helped me understand that often, when we feel silenced, the only thing that is lacking is space. I’ve come to learn that space is one of the most important parts of power, and I believe that giving and providing space is one of the most powerful ways that humans can acknowledge, appreciate, and learn from each other. I think Kim was an expert in giving space. By showcasing different perspectives, voices and experiences, theatre can become anyone’s space and connect us across our barriers and differences. Every year, Kim gave Kingston that space. Chipped Off gathered community members and community messages and through Kim’s knowledge, she helped cultivate a space that brought volume to the issues directly connected to us. She made sure they were heard. This year, she planned to give volume to “The Mad (Angry Fed Up) Woman of Kingston”. Kim saw that I had anger in me, and offered space for it in this production. For that, I am forever grateful.
This production stopped its rehearsal process. But the energy behind it was absolutely not cancelled. In fact, I think the angry women of Kingston will now be inspired to shout even louder. In the past few weeks, I’ve faced times of struggle that made me nearly lose all my volume. I’ve struggled before, and I began to lose sight of how to keep together again. I couldn’t figure out how to continue and I felt like all production came to a stop during this long-term rehearsal process. But it was absolutely not cancelled. Instead, I find I’m writing. Even though words are hard to find, I was able to remember what Kim taught me about fighting struggle by being loud. By plowing through places of discomfort where communication feels distant and pointless, she showed me that we can find courage from the exact thing that causes instability by instead surrounding it with support, time and careful acknowledgement.
Thanks to Kim, I was able to communicate my “mad (angry fed up)” frustrations. So I’m writing again, and I’m remembering a mentor who told me she was going to give me the space to yell. She knew that people who are kept quiet can become loud and powerful when they are given space. She taught me that there are many ways to be loud and to be angry and that people can scream out and share in unique ways. Sometimes we are loud with the quietest of mumbled, stuttered whispers– but it is in that vicious fight for space that we can remember we are worthy of space.
Kim was someone who recognized the voices in others even before they did. It made her the best possible teacher and human. Thank you, Kim. Because of what you demonstrated and taught to all who knew you, I feel able to find the space to thank you for the space you gave me.