Gyal dem Fiyah: Audrey Dwyer
A Shout Out to Some* of Our Fave Toronto QWOC Hustlers
Here’s a thing to know about me:
I stan for women (surprise!). I especially stan for queer women. I extra-supa-dupa-especially stan for Queer Qomen Of Colour. Our ability to move through intersectional adversity, our refusal to apologize for how society insists on seeing us, our ability to redefine the constructs of “queerness” and “womanhood” altogether, our inherent flyness ... I dunno – just gets me going, ya know?
Every time I look up, BOOM – another QWOC is out here inspiring me, making me question something critically, upping my fashion game, beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes, YOU NAME IT. From activists to artists to playwrights to pole dancers, I stay wowed. I stay in awe of the dopeness that each of our specific experiences creates. I stay proud to be a queer woman of colour myself. And why? Because this world isn’t really built for us, is it? The gears of society, if left to their own devices, would grind us into dust. “Poof, begone,” says racism, says patriarchy and misogyny, says heteronormativity and homophobia. And yet, what do we do? We grind back. We keep doing cool shit. We keep telling our own stories until someone will listen. We take up space and make more spaces for others like us. We stay mad. We step up and we go in. We check you when you got us all the way fucked up.
Here in Toronto, throughout Canada, globally – the list of dope queens is long. Bad bxtches are literally everywhere! Bigging up all of y’all, everywhere, is my forever mood. But for now, I’m gonna get myself together, I’m gonna reel it in – get a touch more local – and raise my glass to just a handful of the QWOC in this city (with a few adjacents) who give me the fuzzies. Cheers.
She’s really out here doing the most – in the best way. Flexing her chops as an actor, director, playwright, mentor, teacher, and theatre artist, Audrey Dwyer is giving a contemporary shape to the concept of being a “renaissance” woman. Creatively, she has her hands in a whole lotta pots. Though I’ve known Dwyer casually through mutual friends for some years, I hadn’t (consciously) been introduced to her work until this past winter, when I went to see her play Calpurnia, which employed (and transformed) the premise of To Kill a Mockingbird to examine modern-day perspectives on class, race/racism, allyship, and appropriation. I was impressed. Hella impressed, to be more accurate. Dwyer’s directorship felt nuanced and controlled, despite juggling the intersections of the play’s themes.
Since seeing Calpurnia, I’ve become aware of Dwyer’s name or face on a number of different projects. One such was her involvement as a mentor with The AMY Project, a leadership-building initiative for young women and non-binary youth in the GTA that provides training and mentorship towards careers in the theatre arts. Most recently, Dwyer has been named assistant artistic director at the Tarragon Theatre, where she is also the Urjo Kareda Artist-in-Residence. And just when I think I’m done, I’m popping some popcorn, watching the Baroness von Sketch show and there Dwyer is again, showing us she can act as well as direct. As well as write. As well as teach. Her work artistically, and in her community, promises to create the spaces and the stories that so many of us need but so often do without.