Quick Chat: Raja Feather Kelly on UGLY

UGLY, Raja Feather Kelly’s dynamic solo about the lack of black queer subjectivity in the mainstream, begins performances on March 5th in the Studio at 12th Avenue Arts. WET’s Literary Manager and Resident Dramaturg Maggie L. Rogers chatted with writer, director, and performer Raja to learn more about this shockingly beautiful piece. To learn more and to purchase tickets to the show, click here.

Maggie L. Rogers: What was the impetus for UGLY and how does it fit into your body of work?

Raja Feather Kelly: My work celebrates and interrogates popular culture and it confronts audiences with their being complicit with the creation of culture. (For better and for worse.) This work is me confronting myself with the same questions that the past decade of my work has confronted its audiences. He is both a time capsule; a look back, and a step forward. 

MLR: We are so excited you are touring this work and was wondering what your thoughts were about what it means to do the show in New York versus Seattle.

RFK: It means I get to be in dialogue with more people. My work is always intended to be a contribution to culture and so this is a direct opportunity to let the work engage with new audiences. I’m not sure what it means before I actually do it. But I’ve always been connected to Seattle. I made my first solo in Seattle and I believe this is the first part of my last solo. I have family in Seattle, and I started my career in Seattle and in New York at the same time. 

MLR: You are such a talented multi-faceted artist and I am curious how you define yourself: dancer/theatre maker? Do you ever feel more present in one world or the other?

RFK: I don’t find myself, and that makes all the difference. There’s no separation for me between Dance, Theater, and Media. I am a storyteller and I am conceptual, and I am visual. I use whatever variable best progress the story forward and clarifies the idea.

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