9 Ounces: Character Development

Anastacia Tolbert continues to discover her characters, working through daily errands and small tasks alongside them. Here is an update on the process from Anastacia. Read more about 9 Ounces here, and enjoy following her and her characters' work!

About 9 Ounces:

9 Ounces: A One Woman Show is an unkempt, de-ribbon-ed, narrative braid dangling with cooked parts. It unofficially yogas its way through the unexpected journey of a queer woman of color's mid-life a-ha moment and extreme case of takotsubo's cardiomyopathy. Using the audience as mirror, epiphany and diary, three narratives crochet themselves around evolving frames. Meet Luna, innocent, truth-telling childlike ghost-angel, Saraphina filter-free wise counsel-spiritual matriarch and Alice an artist and writer wedged between four universal questions: Who the hell am I/not? What am I supposed to be doing? Why me? What's for Dinner? Together, the three bravely and vulnerably traverse the what-now with humor, sadness and a longing wish to have a deeper appreciation and longstanding compassion for Alice's 9-ounce heart and a goal to master downward dog.

Character Development

This week marks the chapter of character development! I have been scoping out the world through the eyes of my characters and incorporating small exercises in my daily routine to fully experience the characters in real time. (I will let you know what happens when Luna has a tantrum in public.) 

I took a trip to Target and realized immediately Luna would be bored or ready to show someone how to levitate, Saraphina mesmerized by all the gadgets in the camping and technology section and Marie pacing the aisles gathering house cleaning and bath supplies (coffee in hand). 

For dinner I imagined the characters standing in my kitchen. Luna ate all my macaroni, Saraphina demanded more cabbage and snapped at me because of all the butter I used and Marie put herself into a chicken coma. This particular kind of character building is both woo-hoo and a-ha! The only way I can fully embody these factional/fractional/fictional pieces of myself—of the characters is to Become them.

In addition to chatting with my characters, I’ve begun the soundtrack in my head which at present is all Nina Simone. 

Below, an excerpt from Saraphina’s get to know you interview:

Saraphina- How long do you expect this to last?

Anastacia- Not long.

Saraphina- Good. I have things to place, things to go and people to do. 

Anastacia- Excuse me… I think you mean to say…

Saraphina- No, I meant exactly what I said. As I said it. The way I said it.

Anastacia- Okay.

Saraphina- Okay is such a big term for small bullshit. Do you mean okay as in you don’t mind what I said? Do you mean okay as in you don’t care about what I said? Do you mean okay as in you don’t understand what I said and you have given up on your abilities to have a good old-fashioned war of words? Or do you mean okay as in you cannot think of anything else to say, kind of okay? 

Anastacia Tolbert is a Cave Canem Fellow, Hedgebrook Alumna, Jack Straw Writer, EDGE Professional Writer, VONA alum, creative writing workshop facilitator, documentarian and playwright. She is writer, co-director, and co-producer of GOTBREAST? Documentary (2007): a documentary about the views of women regarding breast and body image. Lately she’s been obsessed with the body & the stories it holds. Her poetry, fiction & nonfiction have been published widely.