PHS has joined Exposed Brick Theatre to create a new play Trans/formation: Addressing Gender Issues in School based on the stories, experiences, and perspectives of transgender and gender non-conforming youth. Dianne Berg, PhD, and Katie Spencer, PhD, are working with playwrights Anton Jones, Suzy Messerole, Aamera Siddiqui, and a community advisory group to develop the production and educational materials. The aims of the project are to validate transgender youth experiences through performance, to educate peers, parents, families, friends, and educators about the experiences of transgender youth, and to encourage dialogues around gender issues, advocacy, and ally support for adolescents.
"In working with trans youth, it is integral to reach them in the settings they are in daily, it is not enough to intervene in the therapy office, but you also have to reach out to the classroom, to families, and to the community," said Spencer. "This is a big step for PHS to put funding behind a community educative initiative like this, and I can tell you, from the community work I have been doing, people are really responding to it and they see it as a positive thing!"
The play production will be premiered on May 4, 2012, at the Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis. The play will also be performed at a Twin Cities high school. Ultimately the play script and educational materials will be available for high school groups to download and perform at their schools.
Messerole said that one of the individuals interviewed for the play shared that during his junior year of high school the gay straight alliance at his school brought in a speaker who was transgender. The student shared with Messerole that it was the first time he had ever seen another transgender person and it was a very powerful experience. Messerole added, "We all need to know that we are not alone, we all need to know that there are others who have similar stories. One of the most powerful things about theatre is its ability to hold up a mirror and see one's self reflected on stage. It's very validating to see someone one stage who 'gets you' in a way that is complex and nuanced."
Exposed Brick has worked extensively with area schools, creating over 30 Stand In It with Me performances since 2006. Stand In It With Me performances are custom created for each school, based on interviews with students and teachers. The performances fuel dialogue on issues of racism, gender discrimination, sexual orientation, classism, immigration, and more.
PHS and Exposed Brick are grateful to Stacey Mills and Sam Heins for their donation that made this project possible. We would also like to thank all of the people that helped to create this piece including the youth we interviewed, the advisory board whose thoughtful and creative feedback lifted the play to a whole new level, the youth who read the early drafts and whose honest feedback led us in the right direction. The youth performers are outstanding and their commitment to the piece has been amazing.
Community Advisory Board Members
Claire Avitable, director, 20% Theater Company
Katie Burgess, director, Trans Youth Support Network
Andrea Jenkins, trans activist, performer, poet
Moe Lionel, performer, Naked Stages Performer
Anthony Neumann, performer, director, Naked Eye
Ethan Turcotte, arts administrator, Kulture Klub Collaborative
Trans/formation: Addressing Gender Issues in School
By Anton Jones, Suzy Messerole, and Aamera Siddiqui
Friday, May 4, 2012 at 7 PM
Pillsbury House Theatre, 3501 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55407
Parking: Free parking is available in the Pillsbury House lot next to Full Cycle, just south of 35th on the east side of the street. Free street parking is also available on 35th and all other surrounding neighborhood streets.
Free and open to the public. To reserve a seat, please RSVP to Jenae Batt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-625-1331.