By Richard Schultz, November 2015 Issue.
Tucson’s Invisible Theatre will stage a dynamic script by New York-based writer and producer Paul Lucas that focuses on the trans experience Nov. 19-21.
At a time when lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are enjoying greater legal equality, Trans Scripts is a timely reminder of who is represented by the ‘T’ in LGBT. And it’s no coincidence that the show will run in unison with the Nov. 20 observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Trans Scripts explores the commonalities shared by the six characters including early childhood memories of feeling different. They respond to each other’s comments, often with veracity and sometimes with just a nod or supportive touch.
“For generations, trans people were forced by the medical and psychological establishments to subscribe to a single, restrictive, hetero-normative narrative that reinforced the idea of pathology,” Lucas said. “Trans Scripts allows trans people to reclaim their own stories by speaking for themselves in their own words.”
Lucas spent four years interviewing over 70 men and women of trans experience throughout the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. In speaking with his interview subjects, he did not ask the same questions, but rather allowed each to tell their story as they felt it unfolded.
As a result, Trans Scripts is grounded on the life experiences and views of many male-to-female (MtF) transgender people interviewed. Additionally, Lucas is working on Trans Scripts, Part II: The Men, which will be a companion piece.
“There is often the temptation with verbatim theatre is to try to dramatize, or heighten, the characters’ words to make them stage-worthy,” Lucas acknowledged. “These women’s stories are powerful enough that they just need to be told with honesty and clarity.”
The stories of these trans women are compelling, surprising, inspiring, funny and harrowing, but foremost, they are human. The moral of the piece is that our similarities far outweigh our differences, and it is from this truth that understanding is built.
Lucas worked with dramaturge Morgan Jenness, who was the literary manager at The Public Theatre in New York City for more than a decade, to select and edit the material into a play that honors both the breadth and diversity of experiences. He went on to workshop versions of the play at Rutgers University and at the Lyric Theatre Bridport in the United Kingdom.
Cast members Gail Winar and Bianca Leigh. Photo by Kendall Messick.
This summer, Trans Scripts received critical acclaim, numerous awards and more than 20 four- and five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world that takes place every August in Edinburgh, Scotland.
While this is only Lucas’ first play, Trans Scripts received a Fringe First Award, an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award High Commendation, and was shortlisted for the Best of Edinburgh Award, The Holden Street Theatre Award and the Feminist Fest Award.
Lucas has produced The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac, What I Heard About Iraq, Woody Sez: The Words, Music and Spirit of Woody Guthrie, which transferred to the West End in London, and A Conversation With Edith Head with Invisible Theatre’s managing artistic director Susan Claassen. With his co-writer, Drew Geraci, he wrote award-winning short film Disoriented and a screenplay titled Lavender Arms.
For Invisible Theatre, this production directly aligns with its mission dedicated to producing quality theater and arts education experiences for all facets of the community in an intimate setting that showcases local professional talent and guest artists.
Under the leadership of Claassen and associate artistic director James Blair, who directs the Tucson production of Trans Scripts, the theater is strongly committed to community service and outreach programs.
Now in its 44th season, Invisible Theatre is committed to being a very visible force in Tucson’s cultural community.
1400 N. First Ave., Tucson
Tickets: $30; 520-882-9721