The Trans Theatre Festival 2018
July 9 – 22, 2018
The Brick | 579 Metropolitan Ave | Brooklyn NY
Running virtually simultaneous with the celebrated Fresh Fruit Festival is the innovative Trans Theatre Festival July 9 – 22. The Caffe Cino Fellowship Award winning Brick Theatre, located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was founded in 2002 by Robert Honeywell and Michael Gardner and has been home to many critically acclaimed premieres. Winning such honors as NYIT and ITBA Awards and Time Out New York’s Top Ten Plays, The Brick hosted some of downtown theater’s most innovative artists, including Annie Baker, Young Jean Lee, The Debate Society, Thomas Bradshaw, and Nick Jones. The Brick is overjoyed to continue its annual Trans Theater Festival celebrating the power and the art of Trans artists. The best way to contact The Brick is by email:
One of the more accessible yet imaginative pieces at this year’s festival features EV and some fluffy co-stars: a mermaid, a ballerina, a very rambunctious 12 year old, and a bird. No need to call Equity … these are puppets! Written and Directed By EV Fitzgerald. Modern thought and powerful words are located just a few blocks from Sesame Street and across from Avenue Q. In a more elevated section of town.
Late Night with EV and Puppets
ONE-NIGHT-ONLY: July 13, 2018 at 7:00 p.m.
How many late-night TV talk-shows feature a mermaid, a ballerina, a very rambunctious 12 year old, and a bird. Join the talk of dreams, desires, and good old fashion community love. It’s the show that’s sweeping the nation! (at least in the host’s mind). http://thefreekstheater.wixsite.com/freeks
The puppets were busy so we sat-down with EV Fitzgerald. And we’re so glad. EV is one of the most articulate individuals we’ve had the please to interview.
Tell us about yourself as an artist
Since I have been performing alone, my work often comes from a place of vulnerability and autobiography. Before I came out to my friends and family as trans, I performed in a variety of plays in school and college and with the Freeks, an immersive performance group that I helped found. In all of these plays I was cast as an ostensibly male figure: a wisecracking pedant in Blithe Spirit, the murdered drunk husband in Five Little Pigs, the old broken pawn shop owner in American Buffalo. These performances felt anything but honest. In fact I remember remarking to my sister, who is also a performer, about how acting to me felt a wholly outside-in process. This experience birthed a certain cerebral approach to performance that played well for clowns or alienated mad men. Accordingly I was a Brecht devotee and loved the work for its weighty and synthetic approach to the theater. When I saw a performance inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowski, however, something within me began to crack open, an egg began to hatch. It struck me that I had never really ‘played myselves’ on the stage. In my personal life, I was beginning to have the same realization. I hope that by shedding my skin on the streets and on the stage, by showing the vast multiplicity of myselves, I may inspire the same journey inwards and then outwards in others.
That was inspiring and really brilliant. Let’s delve deeper. Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.
I think one of the hardest thing to capture about any artistic endeavour is how much it owes to the vast multitudes of others involved in the life of the artists. While we try our level best to include ‘thank yous’ and ‘acknowledgements’, there is no way that I can truly capture the multitude of individuals that emerge prismatically from my work. Every person from my closest friend to a stranger across from me on the subway to a show that evening comes out in my work. I can’t even begin to describe this process in a way that is not the work or the world itself.
I’m sure you thought of this already. How does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt.
There is a tendency in today’s media and art to reduce complex issues to single line issues. This is certainly beneficial in terms of political expediency and absolutely necessary in cases such as protecting marginalized folx from state violence or righting the legacy of injustices committed against them.
It is not as common, however, to lay bare the multiplicity (read intersection) of identities found in our world. As a white pansexual non-binary trans woman, I find myself at the intersection of a variety of contemporary issues: white supremacy, Queer politics, trans erasure, non-binary erasure, violence perpetrated by men, emotional disregard for males, hatred of femininity, and mistrust of trans women by some cis folks, just to name a few. In each of these issues I stand at different points and the act of telling my story and my perspective is one piece in understanding the complex fabric in which we live.
My work may not serve as politically expedient as Walter Benjamin or Bertolt Brecht would wish. It is not a single “What if…”. I hope it will serve as a multitude of “what ifs” and a prompt for questions, not a single answer.
Why did you choose the Trans Theater Festival ?
My work is first for trans audiences specifically, but I also hope that it will be a place for cis and trans folx to begin conversations about their common struggles. It is not just trans women that face stereotypes about femininity for example. Cis men and women are often challenged by the oppressive binary lines upon which we lay gender. I hope that this production may be a stimulus for folks to reach across a certain metaphorical aisle. Not one divided by political ideals, but rather one divided by thousands of years of stereotype and enforced behaviors. I hope that my work can make these folx themselves in me and in turn each other.
Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?
I hope that my work could engage a wider audience and serve as a stimulus for a discussion about gender diversity within our culture. By employing a larger cast as well as technological tools, like projections and voice over, I would hope to increase the immersive quality of the show for larger audiences as well as provide other trans* and queer folx with opportunities to show their work in the context of the little dream world that I build.
I also hope to do further academic research on how puppets may influence perception about gender and identity in general. Building on work like Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s “doll test” as well as studies from developmental psychology about identification with objects perceived as agents, I propose that abstracted figures (i.e. puppets, cartoons, gesture drawings, and other ambiguous human figures) encourage the human mind to construct their own sense of identity rather than consume those ready-made by the culture around them.
I always carry this Walt Whitman quote around me and I want to share it with the world as frequently as I can. I first read “Song of Myself” in high school and remember how taken I was by the way in which Whitman truly understood the contradictory nature of human freedom. He endeavoured to describe, before modern psychology would even dare, the strange fact that while we are essentially analogous organisms we come in such a plethora of forms: inextricably tied to one other and irrevocably individual.
At one point during his reflection on these themes he proclaims:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
Whitman’s words are a rallying cry for Queer folx everywhere, for folx who don’t fit the mold that politicians and pedants seek to craft and stuff us all in, and for folx that long to be closer than the orbits of atoms to their fellows.