Artist Statement

A multidisciplinary production, WHAT ARE YOU? combines aerial movement, shadow play, music, and personal testimonies to highlight the beauty and expose the struggles of multi-racial people while honoring their resilience. Anecdotes from people of mixed race and culture introduce topical vignettes that showcase multiple artistic mediums. Vignettes:

  • Use original music and rhythmic movement to examine how hairstyles change perspectives on race.
  • Utilize shadow play to illustrate the problem with blood quantum, a controversial measurement of the amount of “Indigenous blood” a person has.
  • Feature circus arts while audiences participate in celebrating the beauty of race.

The project’s lead creator/performer Nicolette Emanuelle, raised with roots in North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe, was often asked, “What are you?” The question prompted Emanuelle to interview other mixed-race Americans about their experiences and discovered striking and moving commonalities. 7 Stages commissioned Emanuelle to transform the interviews into a production that provokes dialogue around racial reckoning, equity, and social justice. As producer, 7 Stages provides Emanuelle with resources including rehearsal space, artistic guidance, access to artists, and technical support.


Artist Bio

Nicolette Emanuelle is a professional performance artist, producer and creator known for her fierce stage presence and her ability to mix multiple mediums in her performances. She is the founder of The Hereafter Artist Collective, which produces Dead Lounges (an evening of collaborative performance art based on the works of dead artists), an artistic associate and teaching artist with 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, GA and the creator of the short film, What are You?, an exploration of what it means to be multi-racial in America based on her experiences as a mixed-race Lumbee living in the South. Her talents include aerial arts, stilt walking, musician (cello, piano, vocals and accordion), composition/scoring, and acting. She is currently developing a full-length theatrical production of What are you? that plans to tour in spring 2023.