This weekend I saw two incredible shows focusing on the trans experience, but both focusing on the point of view of the parents. I wasn’t entirely sure what either show was about before I saw them (sometimes it is fun to keep some mystery in your theater experiences), and I am so glad that I was able to see them both in the same weekend.
The first show that I saw was The Pink Unicorn by Elise Forier Edie at the Illusion Theater. It is a very powerful 90 minute no intermission, one woman piece, about a widow in a small conservative Texas town whose daughter comes out as gender queer. Kate Guentzel plays the mother and completely inhabited her role, sometimes slipping into other character essential to this story such as her daughter, mother, and the town’s preacher. It was amazing to watch this character walk her through her story. Although the story is centered around her child’s gender identity and desire to create a community for themselves, it is the mother’s story. Not necessarily accepting this fact, although she has to learn a lot about the gender spectrum and gender identity. But most of the story is about learning how to best be a mother and a supportive parent in her child’s new journey.
Not surprising a journey such as this would not be easy a small conservative Texas town. The story is full of ups and downs. Finding both unexpected allies and villains, but through it all I along with the whole audience was with her. The last one woman show I went to, My Mother Has Four Noses, gave out tissues in the lobby before the show, and it seems a strategy that would be beneficial to this show as well. I was not the only one with watery eyes at the end of the show. This is a wonderful and touching show for anyone who cares about the trans community or who loves transformative storytelling. It is playing at the Illusion Theater through April 22nd.
A couple days later I went to Mixed Blood Theater with some of my fellow bloggers to see Mermaid Hour ReMixed by David Valdes Greenwood, part of a rolling world premiere of the show. The beautiful production that is currently going on at Mixed Blood is a musical and focuses on a working class married couple, Pilar and Bird, and their transgender daughter Vi. Pilar and Bird are completely supportive of their daughter’s identity but are struggling with the decision of when and if she can start hormones. Their marriage is also struggling under the strains of their busy work schedules and the stresses of being a parent. Meanwhile Vi has a crush on her best friend (who happens to be gay), and finds solace in YouTube and videos of the Mermaid Hour.
Like The Pink Unicorn it was interesting to see a lot of the story told from the parents point of view. The Mermaid Hour ReMixed starts years after Vi has been living her true identity as a girl, and as I said before her parents are supportive, and she is living in a supportive community. This doesn’t mean that there are not a lot of challenges, life has a lot of challenges, and unfortunately there is still a lot of unknowns about transgender youth and transitioning.
The music that was added to this version of Mermaid Hour (other non musical productions of Mermaid Hour are playing across the country) fit perfectly. The music was able to split up the scenes nicely and provide more of an emotional look into what all of the characters were feeling. Along with some of the other Twin Cities Theater Bloggers, Cherry and Spoon, Minnesota Theater Love, One Girl Two Cities and Compendium, I was also to stay and speak with the cast after the show. Catherine Charles Hammond who plays Crux/Merperson in the show said something that really struck me about how the show looks at the transgender issues. They mentioned that although the show is looking into something very real, and something that can be hard for a lot of people the show is gentle and kind, and that is extremely true.
This gentle and kind nature of the show comes not only from the great material by David Valdes Greenwood, and the music that was added by Eric Mayson, and the director Leah Anderson, but by all of the cast and the crew as well. The member of the cast that I was most impressed by was Azoralla Caballero, whose biography is surprisingly short for such a talented performer. I learned at our talk back after the show that this was their first professional and time leading a show. Although the show focuses most on the parent’s experiences Vi is the central character of the show, and Caballero did a wonderful job bring Vi to life.
Mermaid Hour: ReMixed at Mixed Blood is a wonderful show and is running until April 29th.
You only have a few more weeks to see two great shows, The Pink Unicorn and Mermaid Hour: ReMixed. If you have a chance see them both! Click here for more information about The Pink Unicorn and here for more information about Mermaid Hour: ReMixed.
First Photo: Laurie B. Photography
Second Photo: Rich Ryan