by Amanda Ong
From Nov. 4 to Nov 13, White Center’s Acts On Stage will present “That Talk You Do,” the debut one-woman show of Tia Naché Fields-Yarborough. “That Talk You Do” follows Fields-Yarborough through her own life and youth in Seattle as she explores faith, Blackness, and womanhood through song, spoken word, hip-hop, and ’90s R&B.
“That Talk You Do” is rooted in Fields-Yarborough’s own journey, and South Seattle plays a central role in her storytelling, from her time at the now-closed South Shore Middle School, to the 7 and the 42 buses she took daily, to her awareness of how the area has shaped her experiences and changed.
“Still living in the area, I’ve had a chance to see it change and shift,” Fields-Yarborough said in an interview with the South Seattle Emerald. “When I think about my experience in South Seattle, it’s a diverse experience; it’s not just this monolith. … [Some of my poems] are written about Seattle specifically, and some of the folklore that my family has shared with me about how much Seattle has changed. And so I feel like ‘That Talk You Do’ highlights those moments.”
Right in line with her background as an educator, Fields-Yarborough hopes audiences will resonate with the story of her youth and can learn from it.
Fields-Yarborough was born and raised in the Rainier Valley and still lives close to her childhood home. She graduated from Franklin High School, and she has worked as an educator — including time as a teacher as well as principal — for over 15 years at Garfield High School. She is currently a strategic advisor and program manager at Public Health – Seattle & King County, overseeing regional community safety to deter young people from gun violence.
While this is her debut performance, Fields-Yarborough is no stranger to performing.
“I’m a church kid; my father was a minister,” Fields-Yarborough said. “Church, in a lot of ways, although spiritual, it definitely has a performative aspect to it. There’s an experience that’s created, whether it’s through music, and the sermons and testimonies.”
In her youth with the church, Fields-Yarborough presented her poems for holidays and developed a love for writing and literacy. As a teenager, someone told her that her poetry was considered spoken word, a type of poetry written to be performed. So she joined the Seattle Slam Team, and spoken word informs a lot of lyricism in “That Talk You Do.”
“[‘That Talk You Do’] is a journey of my life, told through song and music and script and poetry,” Fields-Yarborough said. “It’s definitely a weaving of a history of me, which, to me, is not just about me, but a shared experience where people will be able to see themselves and the work that I present. … When you think about memoirs and people telling their personal experiences, my poems are definitely reflections of experiences and moments that I’ve had. And it is the theater, so I don’t just dive into poems, but there’s an acting out of different people in my life, different phases in my life. I’m not just the 39-year-old Tia, but there’s a 4-year-old Tia, there’s a 16-year-old Tia, there’s my father who’s passed away, there’s my mother, there’s my grandmother, my brothers.”
Fields-Yarborough is also an activist, and her writing and performance tie in to her sense of advocacy. A number of her poems are about social justice and include calls to action. Fields-Yarborough says activism is a thread that lives through everything she writes — but beyond that, simply to be a Black woman taking up the stage for a one-woman show is radical within the world of theater.
“I’m still struggling with, like, is it okay for me to be centered?” Fields-Yarborough said. “Is it okay for me to have a whole show that is built around me? And there’s someone who doesn’t have to ask those questions, because they’ve always been shown visuals where they can be elevated and highlighted and centered.”
And through telling her story, she hopes to help others. “I want to be medicine,” Fields-Yarborough said. “I feel like in a lot of my bios, that’s one of the things that I always share. I want to heal. And I feel like healing comes through transparency, it comes through reflection, it comes through storytelling, it comes to somebody who is as far away from my experience as possible who gets to see the humanity that I present and find themselves in my story. And it just brings us a little closer together.”
“That Talk You Do” will have an eight-show run from Nov. 4 to Nov. 13 at Acts On Stage. Tickets are available on Acts On Stage’s website.
Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.
📸 Featured Image: “That Talk You Do” is based on Fields-Yarborough’s own story of growing up in the South End, including details like her daily rides on the 7 and 42 bus routes, and reflections on her changing neighborhood. (Photo: Carlos Imani)
Before you move on to the next story … The South Seattle Emerald is brought to you by Rainmakers. Rainmakers give recurring gifts at any amount. With over 1,000 Rainmakers, the Emerald is truly community-driven local media. Help us keep BIPOC-led media free and accessible. If just half of our readers signed up to give $6 a month, we wouldn't have to fundraise for the rest of the year. Small amounts make a difference. We cannot do this work without you. Become a Rainmaker today!