Tek Wilson is a Houston-based theater artist. Her involvement with DiverseWorks began as a gallery visitor, until she shared her talent with DiverseWorks audiences as she performed in Slyk Chaynjis directed by Heather and Ivan Morison at DiverseWorks. A year later, she was invited to join the Artist Advisory Board (AAB) which led to her current position as the newly appointed President of the AAB.
As someone who was primarily exposed to visual art and more familiar with its “static” aspect, I felt the field of theater art, performance, and performance art was very different and bewildering. I am intrigued about the idea of real-time experience (where one can observe/witness how works develop, expand, and disappear in presence) that “conventional” visual art often lacks. Full of excitement to learn more about a foreign field and the talented artist’s practice, I greeted Tek Wilson:
Do you consider yourself performance artist or an actress? How would you describe your career?
“My main thing… the core of what I do is acting. Theater is very collaborative so there are lots of places to participate in theater. You hear this if you are a theater geek like me: Film is a director’s medium and theater is an actor’s medium. And I really do believe that. I think that when people come to see the performance, […] what people really crave and what I like to do is have an experience where the actor biologically experiences the world of the play and then forms an energy relationship with other actors. They have a real, actual experience with each other, and then that in turn is brought into the audience. […] It can be very exciting, dangerous, heartbreaking, and funny. […] The beauty of performance is that it’s never repeated. You have to make it completely new every time you do it. It’s fleeting. That’s what makes it so precious. That’s what drives me and my primary thing is being an actor. “
Tek also says that performing Slyk Chaynjis at DiverseWorks expanded her experiences as an actor and in Tek’s words: “it cracked my head open a little bit about acting.” For those who missed a chance to see Slyk Chaynjis at DiverseWorks in 2014, it was a commissioned work that includes a gallery exhibition and mobile public performance (http://www.diverseworks.org/in-the-works/exhibtion-performance/heather-and-ivan-morison-slyk-chaynjis). The gallery visitors would encounter this bizarre, odd couple Slyk played by Tek Wilson and Sancho by Caleb Fields. The script does not specify every action the actors should take, but directs the play through a series of scenes inside the gallery and outside in the community, causing the actors to perform with improvisation as they interacted with visitors or people in the community.
Is improvisation something you would consider as part of your talent?
“Not until now. Improv in acting class scared me. But this was different because it wasn’t so much on the fly. You really had time to digest who you were, what you are doing there, what your back story is, and what your relationship is to this other guy and that’s all real settled when you go in. So you just riff on that. It becomes a lot easier after that.”
Towards the end of the interview, out of curiosity, I asked what led her to become an actor. She responded, “I am really not sure. I started doing it in high school. It just clicked for me. I love the work. I loved rehearsing.” She was a piano performer before she ventured into acting and provided us with a beautiful metaphor about piano playing and acting.
Listen to the piano analogy.
The idea that an actor is ultimately set free to explore the character’s world after ceaseless repetitions spoke to me. It reminded me of my experience learning musical instruments – the moment that I didn’t need a score sheet open in front of me anymore – my fingers intuitively danced as if it was given a life after long, daunting, but worthwhile practices. I always had to create or bring back my expressions and interpretation of the pieces when playing, and with Tek’s analogy, everything became crystal clear.
I used to think of actor’s roles in performance art/acting as restrained to scripts and director’s perspectives. However, after Tek offered her views, I opted to understand the act of “going to a play” more than merely seeing it, so that I can experience the alive, corporeal body of time, human relationships, and narratives that is fully carried by actors.
We’re glad to have Tek Wilson around at DiverseWorks. She has been an avid volunteer and support for the past few years and are excited to see what she has in store for us as the AAB President. We look forward to seeing her work progress in and outside the realms of DiverseWorks.
- What’s in a name?
Her name ‘Tek’ is not her legal name. Curious where it is from? Listen to the clip!
Listen to the origin of her name ‘Tek’
- Favorite place to eat:
She gives a thumbs up to Merida Mexican Restaurant, saying it is “the best Mexican breakfast food in the world”
Interview by Joomi Lee, DiverseWorks’ Intern