Trans Scripts: Meet the Cast

So how fun that we’re—we’re in New York City beginning our rehearsals for the premiere at the American Repertory Theater company. This had a life before at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it won two awards including the Amnesty International Award and a couple of readings and workshops here and there but this is a very different production and it’s having a new life. Take me to that moment where you’re sitting in the rehearsal room and watching that happen and knowing that, this is kind of an awesome responsibility as one might say. We had such a phenomenal response to the piece in Edinburgh. We all hope that something would happen with the work afterwards. When we finally got into the rehearsal room it felt, “Ah right, okay, this is now really happening” because obviously this is a big deal—it’s a major theater company and—okay, I’m not diminishing our achievements in Edinburgh but this feels like a whole next plateau, you know? A whole ‘nother step for the piece, you know? It’s hard to describe because as— When you look at this piece of theater that we’ve been working on for so long and you look at how important it is going to be to share these stories, it’s tremendous. But then as an individual to be working with A.R.T. is a joy. A lot of queer actors, a lot of, certainly a lot of trans actors. You know, we work here, we work there, we find our way and a lot of the stuff we do is unconventional, alternative, “downtown”. So, to be able to work in a major regional theater, it is profoundly moving. Trans Scripts is one of the very first times that the American theater is devoting a play completely, not only to transgender lives, but in their own words. Well, the playwright is the gentleman that did all the interviews, over 75 interviews with trans women from across the globe. Paul is the ultimate ally, really. He’s the facilitator of telling these stories. We’re not necessarily impersonating these— these ladies, we are creating piece of theater in order to reflect their lives and I think it’s important to remember that, that it’s not just a facsimile of everything that occurred in those conversations, this is theater, it’s a play. I think that distinction needs to be sort of remembered, you know? Paul has done a beautiful job of finding diverse voices—of the characters—of the characters. There are seven different women from different races, different continents, different ages, different ages of transition, very different viewpoints of what being trans is, what they hope to accomplish as individuals and within the community and I think that was Paul’s impetus is to have a wide range. This is what is so important about this play. People are going to say “Wow, I had no idea the breadth of the experience.” Mj, you’ve mostly been known for doing musical theater, and you’re sitting in this rehearsal room for the American Repertory Theater company, also known for musical theater, but you’re working in a very different kind of project. Take me to that moment where hit you. It hit me in the very beginning of the process. I’ve always looked at, you know like, “Trojan Women” and, if I can say, “The Vagina Monologues”, you know I mean, those are very—you’re allowed to say “The Vagina Monologues”— okay, good ’cause I didn’t know if there was— only once. Yeah, right? But those were really like an important plays to me but they weren’t our narratives, and finally we have our narratives being told in that light and like Bianca said, there’s a vast variety of beautiful races on stage as well as different stories that are being told and I think that it is very important that our stories be heard and as well as the audience, the masses seeing that our lives are normal, whether we had to work towards normalcy, or whether it just normal from the start and that’s when it really, really hit me and I hope that the audiences receive that. I don’t hope, I know they’ll get it. I think you’re right. If I was going to give you one phrase, one sentence to tell me what your hope is for this really historic production on a major theater. What would that one phrase or sentence be? Open-mindedness. I always tell people, you don’t have to understand, you don’t have to agree, you can like it but the most important thing I would want for anyone when they’re being introduced to a show like this or any type of show, but specifically a show like this, is to be open-minded to understanding our lives. And like I said, our narratives because it’s very important because that will create a space for us and to live in a society like how we want to live. I think there’s such potential in this, in the life of this play, and in this production, and I would like it to be a springboard so that other people’s minds and hearts can be opened. [singing] On Broadway! [laughter] I knew that was coming! [more laughter] Maybe the West End perhaps, you know? Oh, that would be cute, that would be really cute. Or both?! Both! Exactly.

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