Cambridge theatre highlights experiences of transgender women

Cambridge+theatre+highlights+experiences+of+transgender+women

By Josie Wiltse, news correspondent

“Trans Scripts, Part 1: The Women,” a play that aims to share perspectives of the transgender community, will be performed Jan. 19 at The American Repertory Theater (ART), a nonprofit theater located in Cambridge.

The show is based on more than 75 interviews with transgender people of different ethnicities, ages and economic status.

Playwright Paul Lucas centered the play around seven transgender women and used the words spoken by the interviewees. “Trans Scripts” intends to highlight the similarities shared between all people, regardless of their differences.

“I want the audience to take away that we’re normal people,” said Mj Rodriguez, a transgender woman who will play Luna when the curtain opens. “We walk in society just like anybody else, and there doesn’t need to be a specific stigma placed upon us to put us down and keep us out of what’s called the normal society,”

Rodriguez described herself as someone who is always trying to find the fun in life, which differs from her character: A stern, straightforward activist.

Rodriguez said her own life experiences helped her play this role because despite differences in their personalities, she and Luna have experienced a lot of the same things.

“I can relate to this character a lot,” Rodriguez said.

The intimacy between the experiences makes the show that much more important to Rodriguez, who said she understands what it’s like to deal with stereotypes and close-minded people.

“I want to encourage [young people struggling with their identity] to keep being them. They’re not different,” Rodriguez said. “Always strive, always strive to be who you want to be.”

The play appeals to even those who cannot relate to it on such a personal level.

Jo Bonney, recipient of a 1998 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Directing, first heard about the play years ago when she met Lucas through mutual friends. At the time only about three-quarters of the play was written.

“The work there, I sort of feel like is a step above most of the work in Boston,” said Matt Hosking, a freshman theatre major at Northeastern who has attended multiple shows at ART. “They get a lot of big name actors, they get a lot of talent, they get a lot of really interesting work.”

The American Repertory Theater has served as a doorway to success for many new shows and musicals, including “The Great Comet of 1812” and “Waitress.”

As a play with a focus on the transgender community, “Trans Scripts” already separates itself from the bunch.

“Trans Scripts” will run from Jan. 19 to Feb. 5, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Shows will run every evening excluding Mondays with moderated discussions afterward.

Photo courtesy Creative Commons