Saturday, 15 March 2014

Pronoun: Awkwardly accurate

It was a refreshingly real piece of theatre which I enjoyed from start to finish.  I wanted to applaud louder, and for longer.  The young actors did a superb job, and spoke to their parts and to the audience as though from their hearts. 
The Traverse Theatre was packed.  I was not displeased with a front row seat.  Pronoun is a piece of theatre whose awkward accuracy was somehow comfortable.  Dialogue involving and exploding the constructs assigned to gender is something I cannot get too close to.
Pronoun is an utterly brilliantly articulation of the sometimes terrifying journey of Dean, a young person navigating the early stages of transition - internally and externally; at home, at school, and in the big wide world.
A love story about transition, testosterone, and James Dean.

Josh and Isabella are childhood sweethearts. They were meant to spend their gap year together, they were meant to be together forever. But Isabella has now become a boy.

Pronoun was commissioned as part of the 2014 National Theatre Connections Festival and premiered by youth theatres across the UK. Especially written for young actors, the play can be performed by a cast of seven, with some doubling of roles, or a much larger cast.
From my perspective, as a psychotherapist supporting several adolescents who wish their hormones were other than they are, I found Pronoun awkwardly accurate in places.  The powerful monologues speak of the anguish experienced by anyone who does not feel they fit, and who wants nothing more than to conceal the body they feel trapped inside.  The play speaks to the utter bewilderment that often besets someone who identifies as trans, and the befuddlement of even the most benign who scramble around trying to catch up and come to terms with something they will never truly 'get'. 
The message is a powerful one: those who cannot conform to society's current constructs do not seek to be tolerated.  They long to be loved.  Just like the rest of us. 
Evan Placey's observation as to the absence of plays written about (young) trans individuals is spot on, and Pronoun (currently touring theatres around the UK as part of NT Connections) will, I hope, be swiftly followed by many more expositions of the reality that is non binary gender and sexuality.  I wish I could be more confident that those who need to see this play will go to the theatre.  Sadly, I fear, the seats will be packed with us allies and supporters who can only continue to do our best to support those we love or care for. 

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