Artist Statement & Bio
Allison Oddman '21 is a playwright and filmmaker who trained in Black Studies at Stanford University. They are also an incoming M.F.A. Candidate in Screenwriting at AFI Conservatory. Hailing from a proud Jamaican household and vibrant South Florida community, Allison is dedicated to serving underrepresented narratives in film and amplifying the voices of those pushed to the margins within representational systems. Their main objective in all creative pursuits is to catalyze action towards equity. Their work has designated them a two-time finalist for the Sundance Episodic Lab and a finalist for Sundance Institute’s 2021 Development Track.
During their Committee on Black Performing Arts Fellowship, Allison worked on a two-act choreopoem. Made in the tradition of Black Feminist Thought and instrumentalism, "I AM: Tell Me Who, Tell Me What" is a choreopoem that follows a Black woman’s journey to find her missing name. Along the way, she encounters three other Black women whose lived experiences, joys, and colonial positionalities inform our protagonist of who she is outside of the white, somatic world order. Who is the Black woman de-labored? Who is the Black woman loved? This work is dedicated to every Black woman who has guided me and given me access to pleasures the outside world is ardent I remain ignorant to.
I AM: Tell Me Who, Tell Me What
I AM: Tell Me Who, Tell Me What is a 75 page, two-act choreopoem that follows protagonist Tell Me Who, Tell Me What as she builds an identity and self-articulation outside of the colonial constraints that persist on defining her and other Black women from birth. In the first act of the play, she encounters three Black women -- Ayiti, Jamaikah, and Farrin -- who convey the community, laughter, and beauty of Black womanhood to her but are still very much plagued by matters of colorism, misogynoir, and other oppressive structures that place them adjacent to womanhood.
During the play's second act, Tell Me Who, Tell Me What retreats into her ancestors' womb to track how those who came before deemed themselves eligible among the ever-evolving definitions of Blackness and femininity. The womb space here is degendered and not a place where Tell Me Who, Tell Me What goes to assume womanhood, but is a place where she goes to embody the limitless potential existence outside of the colonizer's gaze provides. Here, she is reborn to just be.
Major Creative Influences
- Ntozake Shange
- Suzan-Lori Parks
- Julie Dash
- Barry Jenkins
- Dee Rees