Thought Residency: Tanisha Taitt

Thought Residency: Tanisha Taitt


Th​ought #12 – The Call​

​Th​ere is a thorn in the wind
There is a wall we must climb
There is a storm rolling in
It is the call of our time
Who is to tend to the need​?​
Who is to hold tired hands​?​
Friend it is you, it is me
Because n​o one is free
Until freedom stands


This is Tanisha and Thought #12.​​​ Thanks for listening to my residency.​

It’s Tanisha and Thought #11.

As I’ve watched the In Memoriam reels at this year’s Oscars and Grammys, I can’t help thinking about the impact of my own life. As a daughter, as a sister, as an aunt, a mentor, a friend… I know it is deep and true. But as an artist? I’m not sure. Will there be a directing job that I do, a performance that I give, a song or a play that I write — that will be reverberating in people’s lives thirty years from now? I can’t know that. But I know that I can leave my attempts. And I know that I can leave the passion.

Often I’ll look at strangers and thin k “Might we have been friends in a different life?”   It fascinates me how the relationships that we hold dearest — our siblings, colleagues, friends and mentors — are all born of circumstance.  Where did we live?  What were our parents’ economic situations?  What schools did we go to?  What jobs did we get?  What contracts did we take or pass over?  All of these things shape who ends up being in our sphere.  And so when I’m in public sometimes and I get mad at a stranger, or irritated — I stop and as k myself: “Might we have been friends in a different life?”


This is Tanisha and Thought #9.

There are moments which encapsulate and cement us. I think that the most powerful breaths we ever take are in those pivotal and defining moments — the ones that divide our lives into before and after they happened. You often do not know that they will be the defining ones until well after they occur, but then when you look back… you find yourself in awe of their magnitude.

This is Tanisha and Thought #9.

I’m someone who tries very hard to live her life from a place of truth. And so watching the Trump administration lead with lies, and live in lies, is so disconcerting for me. It’s not that I didn’t know that politicians can be dishonest; of course I did. But it’s the commitment to dishonesty — a commitment that is so fundamentally contrary to the commitment that I’ve made for myself — that absolutely freaks me out.

This is Tanisha and Thought #8.

Our government is letting a lot of people down. Brea king political promises , breaking Indigenous hearts. It’s so easy – and I catch myself doing it too – for us to sit on our high horses and focus on the crap show that is happening south of the border, because it is so brazen in its horror and its malice. Ma ke no mistake, I am grateful to be where I am. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t being disenfranchised and hurt and oppressed here. It’s happening every moment of every day, so let’s make sure that we spend a healthy chunk of time in our mirror too .

It’s Tanisha and Thought #7.

So powerfully poignant and painful it is to love someone to the depths of your being who cannot, does not, and will not ever love you back. And yet from the midst of this realness come lessons — lessons in detachment, in sacrifice, in selflessness and in grace… that are profound.

This is Tanisha and Thought #6.

Often, when a young attractive woman of colour becomes part of an ensemble that is otherwise Caucasian, at some point — either during the process or in reviews — she will be referred to as “exotic”. And apparently she’s supposed to jump up and say “Thank you” for this. A woman of colour who acts in a play or a film is an actor. Not a ferret, not an iguana, not a Bengal tiger. An actor. And if the people who love to throw the word “exotic” around like it’s the best thing in the world to be actually believed that, then their casting wouldn’t be so bloody tokenistic.

This is Tanisha Taitt and Thought #5.

Imagine Donald Trump as a theatre director. Imagine him having to collaborate with actors, designers, crew, and an admin staff to put something on stage – in which although he was helming the ship, he had to acknowledge equally the talents of everyone aboard that ship in order for that ship to set sail. Do you think he could do it? Or do you think it would be the Titanic? Cause, I’m thinking B.

This is Tanisha and Thought #4.

Here’s some advice. If you are a white person, avoid ranting about why Black Lives Matter are a bunch of morons that offend you and why they aren’t going about their business correctly. You might not appreciate their tactics, and that’s fine. But until you know where the pain and the distrust and the terseness come from — until you live in that skin and then dedicate your life to a movement where you collect the stories of people’s degradation and desperation and humiliation and subjugation — until you seek to understand that, you need to back off.

Barack Obama’s second memoir was called The Audacity Of Hope and I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase recently, as we wake up feeling hopeless at the thought that the most powerful country in the world is seemingly led by someone with no moral compass and no intellectual curiosity. So it is up to us – each of us – to find the audacious within us and be bold and brave and loud. We can’t wait for anybody else to do it. We can’t wait for someone else to bring our hope back to us. It’s US. Now. We’re it.

This is Tanisha Taitt and Thought #2. An acquaintance said to me the other day “Well obviously you’re a liberal”, and although I have no problem being thought of as a liberal, I don’t think of myself that way. I tend to consider myself a progressive, and that’s because the word ‘progressive’ indicates motion and movement in a way that the word ‘liberal’ doesn’t quite. I am so passionate and committed to the idea of moving us forward — forward in our thinking, forward in our ability to connect and communicate — that ‘progressive’ resonates with me so much more.

This is Tanisha Taitt.  Welcome to my thought residency, and Thought #1.
I’ve been hearing a lot lately that what the world needs now is love, and that’s true.  But if you think of love as a flower… it cannot grow on its own.  What the world needs now is the seed of courage, the soil of justice, the water of forgiveness and the sunlight of truth — in order to create conditions in which that flower can grow.
We cannot leapfrog our way to love.  We have to cultivate it.



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About the Author

Tanisha Taitt is a director/actor/playwright/producer/educator, activist, and accidental essayist. She got her professional start as a Directing Apprentice with Obsidian Theatre and since then she has worked with numerous companies in a myriad of roles. Tanisha is Director of the Peace Camp program at Children's Peace Theatre -- an organization that teaches young people about creating a culture of peace through theatre -- where she has been an artist facilitator since 2008 and a co-developer of its Conflict Transformation and Anti-Oppression curriculum. She is a Drama and Spoken Word mentor for the Toronto District School Board's EngageArts and tdsbCreates programs, initiatives that bring professional artists into classrooms to inspire and nurture creative expression in students and teachers. Also a singer-songwriter, she is a recipient of the Canadian Music Publishers Association Songwriters Award. Tanisha spent six years as the Toronto producer for V-Day -- the global movement to end violence against women and girls -- and also served as National Coordinator for its One Billion Rising Canada campaign. In 2014, she founded Teenage Graceland, a youth theatre collective aimed at challenging the societal attitudes that lead to gender-based violence. Her play Keeper was published by Scirocco Drama in 2016, and she is currently creating a theatrical work entitled FORCE -- a musical about rape. Tanisha is a two-time YWCA Woman of Distinction nominee for her commitment to artistic excellence and social justice. Of her many hyphenated descriptors, "aunt" is her proudest title.