So my history in the theatre does not include a great number of performances. The last lead role I had was when I was 9 years old and had the privilege of playing Harold Hill in The Music Man. Since then, my appearances onstage have been few and far between. My best performance was as a homeless man in a college production of The Dutchman. I went to college to learn to direct, discovered my voice as a writer and sharpened my skills as a technician. I always left the acting to others who had a greater passion for it.
Somewhere along the way, I became a teacher of performers and somewhere in that time, I discovered my voice as a performer, which mostly shows itself when I am teaching or have to read in for an absent actor at a rehearsal. I enjoy it and, in some measure, crave my time in front of the lights. Am I a well trained actor? Not really. But I’ve worked with well trained actors and learned enough to teach others to perform and to understand performance. I should probably take a class from my friend and mentor (who was my high school theatre arts teacher) to grow my craft in this area if I pursue what I am thinking of pursuing.
But do I need much training to play some version of myself?
Another friend has planted the seed in my mind to create a one woman show about my experiences as a trans woman. She believes I have something worth saying and, as someone who specializes in social justice theatre, believes I should attempt to say it. I am obviously intrigued (hence this post and a similar, shorter one on Facebook yesterday). It speaks to my desire to write again for the stage and my desire to perform something necessarily political and meaningful to me. In just the short time between yesterday and today, that part of my brain that plots and organizes what I write has already been plotting and organizing this play, this performance.
Will I write it? Yes. I think I will. Most definitely. The part of me that writes these blog posts and has been for years wants to tell something of my experience in a forum other than this. I believe in the transformative power of theatre, that live performance can change how others see and feel like nothing else can. I also believe in myself as an artist, that I can create a performance that can achieve what I would like it to do in some small way. I’m a little iffy about myself as a performer. Aside from being a teacher who stands in front of students by herself and delivers lessons and performances of a kind, I haven’t stood on a stage under lights and done something like this. I believe I have it in me, but I know it will take a lot of work to develop the kind of stage presence required to hold an audience for a show like this would…will be.
It’s going to about me, yes. But it will also be about something I feel strongly about as a trans woman, the idea of passing or, more precisely, why I abhor the idea of passing. If you have any ideas to share along those lines, I’d be happy to hear them. While I can do this by myself, theatre is collaborative and I would love the input of others.
I’ll keep you up to date as things progress.