Olivia Dawson is a Chicago-based artist/storyteller and wears many hats. Perhaps you’ve seen her on the stages of Forward Theatre, Madison Repertory Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Next Act Theatre, New American Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare Theatre, The Barter Theatre, Portland Center Stage, or Steppenwolf. Or maybe you’ve seen her on TV? She recently played Fatimah on the FOX drama series, Empire. She directs too, like Good Kids at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A writer, you say? That’s right: in 2014, she directed and co-wrote the critically-acclaimed play, Out Loud, presented at eta Creative Arts, and nominated for seven Black Theatre Alliance wards, among them Best Writing and Best Direction and four African American Arts Alliance wards, among them Best Production and Best Director. We could go on and on. We feel fortunate to have her as a part of TRASH, for which she wrote A Fruitful Waste, an exploration of one woman’s journey from childhood to adulthood.
Five Questions for Olivia Dawson…
What inspired you to write for TRASH?
I wanted to challenge myself in a two-fold way: I wanted to see if I could write from a prompt that was given to me. Also, I wanted to exorcise my own personal feelings and thoughts in response to people always asking, “Why don’t you have kids?!” as if everyone is supposed to have them.
What will you NEVER throw away?
My connection to God. When everything else goes away (money, work, friends, loved ones) I have always been able to rely on that. To be able to pray, meditate, take a walk and just give thanks always gives me perspective that is invaluable.
What’s the one thing you’ve thrown away that you wish you hadn’t?
Again, it goes back to my relationship with God. I trust that everything/everybody that has passed through my life and is no longer there doesn’t need to be there. I believe that everything happens for a reason, a season or a lifetime and when that is through, it’s best to breathe, relax and release it/them.
Is there something you need to throw away, but won’t?
My sugar craving! I’m working on it…
If you had to live with just five material possessions, what would they be?
In no particular order: athletic shoes, a Bible, my journal, a toothbrush, chocolate!