The artist you see below has gone by her last name, Ishmel, as if it were her first name, since she transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2016. She is a Flint native who has lived her life on the stage singing with the Ishmel Sisters since the age of 10. But when she got to college, she broke off from singing and dived more into oratorial performances. She was within the Interarts Performance degree program, and in 2017 she made her debut of Call Me Ishmel with this piece.
"When Life give you lemons, olives, and sauerkraut... MAKE A BOMB MONO/DIA-logue!" ~ J. E. Ishmel
(Q&A from the artist BELOW) - *from 2017*
What is "Call Me Ishmel"? 'Call Me Ishmel' is a live diary... a mental diary on stage. Soon to be the work of my senior thesis, 'Call Me Ishmel' aims to free myself, and maybe even others along the way, through transparency.
Where is this coming from? A host of short passages I possess, written when I needed to further express my emotions or release my frustrations. I gathered these writings while also making new ones due to the fact I still living out those emotions and frustrations at the time. In a playwriting class, and with our first exposition piece, I decided to use two characters, Jarinn’e and Ishmel, and create a dialogue. The dialogue was natural from writings and texts from my past. My teacher suggested I bring this dialogue to a point of action. I knew what the ultimate plan of action was in my heart, something that I needed to execute in real life. I just found it difficult to so, both on paper... and in life.
What was this for? This piece is more than a simple creation – it was an experiment. I wanted to see if I could follow through with myself. I could talk to myself and have come to the same conclusion multiple times, but never followed through. Why? Because it was easy to not to follow through with a decision when I was my only witness. To be transparent and present this conclusion in front of an audience where they would have a front-page look at my life, it would be a shame to contradict myself. Therefore, doing it in front of an audience kind of forced me to finalize my decision, “LEAVE HIM”, and not turn back.
Why are you cussing? I invited my family to go see my performance. Ultimately, I know my family accepts me for me, but I did encounter a nervous breakdown minutes before show time just because I knew that I was cussing three times in my piece and they'd hear it. I knew that my parents knew what cuss words were, but I’ve never cussed in front of them. However I knew that for myself and for me to get to the point that I needed to be, those cuss words were necessary and important to the delivery of and deliverance from my piece. One of my peers literally had to talk me back into following through with my script, because I literally mentally changed parts of my script minutes before it was time for me to go on stage. Good thing was, since I decided to do the script raw and in its natural form, my audience heard my message loud and clear and I don’t think I would’ve gotten to the point of revelation and freedom I am at if I hadn’t used the cuss words.
What were you thinking?! So, to all of the guys who have tried to talk to me within the last 2½ years: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for how I was, for how I acted, for how I just fell off in your life. I really didn’t know how to communicate what was going on with me, but now I do. Back then, I only partially knew what it was but I didn’t know how to put in into words. I couldn’t grab on to something when I need to release something else first. , and during that time, I wasn’t ready to release it and I didn’t even know how to release it and I wasn’t prepared to release it. But I have now released it, so I won’t be hurting any more guys, so I’m really happy. I’m very happy to be taking big steps and I thank God because He knew what route I needed to take and He gave me a great performance out of it. It was a life changing moment for me, November 17, 2017, my junior year.”
Are you ok? Jarinn’e: I am just sooo happy. Ishmel: Why are you happy? Jarinn’e: Because I’m not crying this time. I’m not crying over the fact that I gave up a person. It’s official. I’ve release them from my life. I don’t have them anymore. I don't possess him in any shape or form. Have I loved him? Yes. Do I still love him? HEGS NAW!