I realized I never wrote about directing my friend’s transgender-vagina-monologues-style play- “The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary” at a local college this past weekend.
I had said before that I wished I weren’t involved – and let me tell you I griped about it right up until I walked into the room with the actors on Friday. It was only a two-day commitment – one rehearsal, and then the reading itself. The cast consisted of three 18 and 19 year old cis-female actors and a 29-yr old actor friend of mine who was free and interested. We rehearsed for about one hour, tops. We didn’t even read the entire cut of the piece through.
But it was incredible. The hall was filled with interested, engaged college kids – male, female, queer, possibly trans – which alone was awesome since this campus is a fairly conservative private school. The audience was incredibly enthusiastic, and loving, even when there were glitches and missed lines. Afterwards folks said they wished this play was performed every year there. It might be, and all the better.
I was reminded of the importance of telling these stories. That there IS an audience for what we queer and trans and butch and other folks have to say, and that only by speaking up to we even hear each other. I was reminded of how I, at 19, was too scared to perform in the original cast of this piece and how now, at 30, I would do it anytime – yes, even in light of all my griping. If I can stop focusing on myself for one moment I might actually get out of my own way.
And it was amazing to see Toby again. He has become a good, lovely man – he brings all the best qualities of a man to the table, and his talkback was a highlight of the event. We looked at each other with interest after our ten-year absence, and noted that we’re still living some alternate dimension of each other’s lives. He has his lovely old New England house and partner and dog and job at the Prestigious Women’s College, his church and his soon-to-be graduate degree, and his queer and trans activism changing the world for the better. I have my rented room, my partner, my odd jobs and artistic crises, my constant struggle with putting myself and my queerness out there, my commitment to performing in lieu of security, which has so strongly affected my own queer and butch identity. But we shared our support for each other in these transformations, the weird paths that lives take. It was like an extended hug.
I really needed that.