Monday, March 07, 2011

Just back from being literary in Bath.

Doing an author session in the morning gave me the chance to reflect back on my career.
It made me realise how long it's been - thirty years! - and then there were the fifteen years before that which I seem to have spent trying NOT to get involved in theatre, because it scared me so much.

Realising that the new play for the Traverse - THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE - which it looks likely they will put it on this autumn, makes it twenty years since they last put on one of my plays (LIGHT IN THE VILLAGE in 1991).

It was at the Traverse that I found my voice (LOSING VENICE, 1985) and it was my artistic home until that connection was finally severed round about 1994.
Which was when I first started openly to express myself as a transgendered writer.

One of the occupational hazards I have found in being trans is that I have tended to be excluded, and have tended to exclude myself, from just about everything.

Including queer culture.

But here I am.
And a lot of the discussion in the morning in Bath was about how my artistic practice has been shaped by my being trans.
Which of course it has been and continues to be. Even though it took me years and years to fully realise this.
But it's why my voice is different. Why EVERY ONE has a special quality. Why it is so hard for my work to attain the level of acceptance and respect it deserves.

And it occurs to me that there is no tradition behind me. There's no other body of work to sustain me or for me to react against.
Which is one reason, I guess, why I am so proud of what I do.

That same evening I was involved in LEAVE TO REMAIN, which had sold out at the Mission Theatre.

It is a performance ritual that I co-created with a lovely actor/activist friend, Suzanne Dance, to help us through our bereavements, and that we perform with a wonderful cellist called Harriet Davidson.

And there's me, an openly trans woman, up on stage talking about the loss of my late wife Susie.

There's always a discussion afterwards, and almost always everyone talks about how grateful they are, and how moved they've been, to have the chance to acknowledge and honour their grief.

My being trans never comes up. Because  in the context of the things that matter, in the context of death and loss, it's just no big deal at all.

So sometimes I wonder what all the fuss is about.


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