Home Theatre Queer Intimacies in Too-Close to Dystopian Futures

Queer Intimacies in Too-Close to Dystopian Futures

Queer Intimacies in Too-Close to Dystopian Futures


Nicolas Shannon Savard: Hiya, and welcome to Gender Euphoria: The Podcast, a sequence produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. I’m your host, Nicolas Shannon Savard. My pronouns are they, them, and theirs. For at this time’s episode, I sat down with playwright, designer, producer, editor, completely multi-hyphenate theatre skilled Leanna Keyes to debate what has change into her most well-known play, Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters. The play is revealed in The Methuen Drama Guide of Trans Performs, which she co-edited. And I’d like to notice this assortment, which got here out in 2021, is the primary anthology of its variety within the US, with eight full-length performs by trans playwrights, that includes trans characters, each launched with a important essay. Listeners of the podcast will acknowledge a few our earlier visitors within the desk of contents—Azure D. Osborne-Lee and Jesse O’Rear—plus over a dozen different sensible writers. It’s so good. As quickly as you’re accomplished listening to this, go discover it. Learn it. You’ll be glad you probably did.

Anyway, Leanna’s different latest work features a Shakespeare adaptation known as Two Women of Vermont, which is a tennis play about sports activities legend Renee Richards, and a still-in-development prequel to Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters. When she isn’t a playwright, she works because the co-founder of Transcend Streaming in Brooklyn, the place she lives along with her companion in all issues, Kyra; their cat, Azzie; and their snake, ASM.

Physician Voynich: the story, set in a not-too-distant future United States the place most reproductive healthcare and intercourse training have been outlawed, follows a trans physician and her apprentice as they journey throughout the Midwest of their cellular medical clinic. We’ll discover the play’s themes of intimacy, interdependence, selection, and energy. Then we’ll mirror on a few of its most up-to-date productions (I had the possibility to see the one at Ohio College again in October) and what it means to stage the story within the wake of the Supreme Courtroom’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the continuing legislative assaults in opposition to each reproductive rights and the trans group throughout the US. We’ll discover how Leanna’s work affords portraits of queer love, sexuality, and relationships whereas additionally chatting with how large-scale political hostilities and structural inequity play out on and between trans our bodies. So, let’s dive in.

Rebecca Kling: Gender euphoria is—

Dillon Yruegas: Bliss.

Siri Gurudev: Freedom to expertise masculinity, femininity, and every thing in between.

Azure D. Osborne-Lee: Getting to point out up–

Siri: With out every other thought however my very own pleasure.

Azure: As my full self.

Rebecca: Gender euphoria is opening the door to your physique and being house.

Dillon: Unabashed bliss.

Joshua Bastian Cole: You possibly can really feel it. You possibly can really feel the aid.

Azure: Really feel protected.

Joshua: And the sense of validation—

Azure: Celebrated.

Joshua: Or actualization.

Azure: Or generally it means—

Rebecca: Being assured in who you might be.

Azure: But in addition to see your self mirrored again.

Rebecca: Or possibly not, however being excited to search out out.

Leanna Keyes: Hello, thanks for having me. Such as you mentioned, my title is Leanna Keyes. I exploit she/her pronouns. I’m a theatre multi-hyphenate. I prefer to say that I do every thing in theatre apart from dance, as a result of nobody desires to see that. However primarily I’m generally known as a playwright, and that’s why I’m right here at this time. However I’m additionally a producer. I co-own a manufacturing firm known as Transcend Streaming. I do a good quantity of design. I’ve acted as soon as upon a time. And I’m right here to speak about queer intimacies, I imagine.

Nicolas: We’re. That is likely one of the main themes of this season of Gender Euphoria: The Podcast. We’re taking a look at queer intimacies.

One thing I actually admire about your writing is the depth and complexity of the queer relationships that you just carry onto the stage. One of many issues that got here up repeatedly within the first season of the podcast was this pattern of the lone trans character or the lone queer character. Your performs are completely populated with trans people, queer people, queered relationships I see fairly a little bit of in there. May you discuss somewhat bit about the way you method or how you consider intimacy and relationships in your writing?

As a result of wanting by even simply a short synopsis of your many performs, I see an expansive, and really a lot queer, sense of intimacy in quite a lot of sorts of relationships past simply what we have a tendency to consider as our conventional romantic and sexual relationships that we see more often than not on stage. How do you consider and method intimacy and relationships in your writing?

Leanna: Properly, it comes again to how I grew to become a theatre individual. I had accomplished no theatre in any way earlier than I got here to school. And I assumed, “Hey, theatre persons are bizarre, and I’m sort of bizarre. Possibly I’ll make some bizarre buddies whereas I’m busy turning into a biologist.” After which, very quickly, it grew to become the one factor that I used to be doing. And I used to be like, “Properly, I suppose I might do that.” And the explanation I felt that I might do it was as a result of I used to be engaged on new work. It actually didn’t happen to me for a pair months of being a “theatre individual” that performs didn’t cease with Hire. That there was stuff that occurred extra not too long ago than that. I used to be like, “Oh my God, individuals can write performs about issues which might be taking place now! About social justice, about marginalized identities.” And I spotted that I actually wished to see individuals like me on stage residing full, complicated, genuine lives, previous, current, and future. It took a very long time earlier than there was a straight individual in one among my performs. I had written a pair performs earlier than that occurred as a result of—

Nicolas: That’s wonderful.

Leanna: Thanks. Properly, and the explanation that that occurred is I believe illustrated by a part of my means of writing my most well-known play, which is Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters, which was, I used to be determining my forged of characters, who belongs on this world. And I spotted pretty early that there must be a sheriff or a legislation enforcement officer, and I instantly acknowledged that I defaulted that to being a person. And I used to be like, wait a second, this relationship with the lead character turns into a lot extra complicated and extra fascinating if it’s a lady. If a lady is definitely the voice of authority on this function, it makes it a lot extra fascinating and a lot extra complicated. And it allowed me to speak concerning the beliefs of the character and never simply write them off as, “Oh, nicely after all the cis man sheriff is upholding all these patriarchal values.” It’s a lot extra fascinating if it is a girl on this function. And it is a play that you just have been in a position to see on the Ohio College manufacturing of this, so hopefully you’ve gotten some resonances with what I’m saying.

Nicolas: I’ve so many questions on this! You’re simply doing all of my transitions for me right here. With Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters, we’ll dive in fairly a bit into what the relationships between these characters are and the way these interaction with politics. And dive into what is that this present about later. However first, to set the scene for the parents listening, might you give a fast synopsis? What is that this present?

Leanna: Positive. Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters is a post-Roe v. Wade play that I wrote earlier than shedding Roe v. Wade was a severe dialog. Primarily, it’s set in a future century the place America’s crimson states and blue states have determined to half methods, and now we’re within the crimson states and we’re turning to natural drugs for healthcare—and significantly reproductive healthcare. It particularly follows an herbalist and her apprentice as they journey to a city and are approached by a younger girl who wants an abortion and doesn’t have any entry to that from her local people. And basically, it’s a race in opposition to time to get that accomplished safely and secretly underneath the nostril of the affected person’s mom and the native sheriff.

Nicolas: Implausible. One thing that I actually love about this piece is the way in which that your storytelling is absolutely working concurrently at this huge scale cultural-political stage concurrently it’s exploring these very deeply intimate relationships. However I discover all of those relationships are actually fascinating, and there’s a couple of key ones that come to thoughts for me which might be actually formed and sophisticated by these large-scale political and given circumstances of the play. I need to know somewhat bit about, what have been a number of the questions that you just have been exploring as you have been writing these characters and their relationships between one another? What questions do you hope actors and administrators will grapple with as they’re embodying them? And I particularly say questions, as a result of I’ve a sense you’ll resist telling me precisely “what does this imply?” having listened to you on the talkback from Ohio College.

Leanna: Positive. Rue and Fade… I did the other of what I used to be educated to do after I was turning into a playwright. What I used to be educated to do by my playwriting mentor, Cherríe Moraga, was that you just begin with characters. You discover somebody with an fascinating voice, you write them, after which you determine the story that they belong in. And I did the exact opposite with this play, which is that I began with the bigger political questions. I began with setting. I began with an agenda after which found out what characters are in that story. I knew that I wished to inform a narrative about an herbalist, particularly a touring herbalist. I knew that I wished them to be in a transformed ambulance or camper van. I knew that it was about motherhood. I knew that it was about parentage and legacy. I knew that it was about reproductive healthcare. And every thing from there flowed from, “Okay, who’s most interested by these items?”

If there’s an herbalist, they must be offering one thing to somebody. And so now we have a affected person. If this factor is illegitimate, there’s in all probability a voice of legislation enforcement. And so now we have a sheriff. So every thing began from the framework. I’m a really structural playwright. I wrote out beat for beat every thing that occurred on this play earlier than I wrote a single phrase of dialogue, which is, once more, the other of what I used to be instructed, however it’s how I used to be in a position to construction it for myself. And so in approaching the connection between Rue and Fade, Rue could be very, very adamant all through the play that Fade is just not their baby, that they’re simply an apprentice, that Fade in some trend got here into her life when she was younger however is simply alongside for the journey. And Fade is pretty okay with that at instances, however then additionally very a lot listens to… “You’re clearly my parental function, you’re my caregiver. I journey with you in all places. We sleep in the identical van. Why are we pretending that this isn’t the way in which that it’s?” Which for me is principally a means for me to discover a trans girl’s relationship with offspring, and the thought of passing issues on, and the truth that reproductive healthcare could be very sophisticated for trans individuals. No matter your gender id, no matter vector you’re on in that spectrum, copy is sophisticated.

Nicolas: Query about Rue, particularly, and her function on this touring abortion care scenario. I believe significantly—and particularly in more moderen political conversations—we’ve received a push for trans inclusion, which fits a bit off the rails and cis people are confused. ?

Leanna: As they so typically are.

Nicolas: As they so typically are… And usually attempt to usher in trans girls, when actually people are attempting to advocate for transmasc people to be a part of this dialog. I had a reasonably lengthy rant in my Criticizing TV class about CNN bringing on Caitlyn Jenner to speak concerning the abortion debate.

Leanna: A visitor who ought to by no means be concerned in something at any level.

Nicolas: Like, she is the least related voice on this dialog. And it simply felt very bizarre and tokenistic. However you appear to be as much as one thing actually completely different with Rue right here, and I believe a part of that ties again to what you have been saying concerning the issues of reproductive care and household, motherhood with trans people typically. How do you see Rue in that context?

Leanna: I, from the start, was very within the thought of somebody who can’t get pregnant being in cost or offering abortions. I believe that’s an fascinating thought.

Are you able to really block out a query or an assumption that you’ve about one other individual? Or is it all the time there affecting what you do?

Nicolas: And it’s even some extent of battle between her and Fade at one level.

Leanna: It completely is. It completely is. If we’re being trustworthy right here, in plenty of ways in which’s simply me processing my very own emotions about motherhood for myself and the methods during which issues are and aren’t potential for me. One of many issues that’s fascinating to me about Rue as a healthcare supplier is the thought of pores and skin within the sport. Who’s most related on this dialog? Is it somebody who can get pregnant or is it somebody who helps others not change into pregnant? Does she additionally present fertility providers?

For a very long time, we have been on this id world by way of the nationwide political dialog the place the one voices that have been related on this debate have been individuals who might get pregnant, and I completely perceive the push in the direction of doing that. And that viewpoint is slim by way of, okay, I perceive why that was a helpful dialog to get cis males out of the dialog because the dominant voice, however that doesn’t imply that solely a really slim subset of individuals has something to say or to really feel on that subject. And I believe with Rue being a lady who can’t get pregnant and who supplies abortions, it simply provides me so many various complicated methods to method problems with abortion and fertility and motherhood and parenthood and passing issues on.

Nicolas: Superb.

Leanna: When it comes to actors and administrators who’re approaching this play, both as in manufacturing or people who find themselves simply the students who’re studying this textual content, a query that got here up throughout the Linfield College manufacturing of this play: is Rue an excellent physician? I really commute on this myself now as I method it. As my preliminary touchstone for desirous about how Rue interacts with the world, I’d typically flip to the Ferengi from Star Trek: Deep Area 9, the place she’s a saleswoman. She has to current a sure picture. She has all these guidelines about how she approaches commerce and relationships and guiding rules as a result of she has this facade of like, “Oh, I’m a innocent touring salesperson, I promote tea to individuals.” When in actuality she’s offering abortions at night time. And so, in desirous about Rue, she has complicated relationships along with her apprentice/baby. She has complicated relationships along with her prospects. She is just not all the time very supportive. Within the second scene, she’s notably mocking in the direction of her affected person.

And one of many fascinating questions for me: how a lot of Rue is an affectation? How a lot of it’s her being genuine? How a lot of it’s her letting one thing slip by? How a lot of it’s her enjoying a task? When does she slip and present her absolutely genuine self? How a lot of what she says is true?

I believe, really, a lot of the characters on this play lie way more than I believe most administrators and actors assume, or readers assume. Both that they’re deliberately mendacity to attempt to get one thing or disguise one thing, or that they’re attempting to persuade themselves by saying one thing, like “pretend it till you make it” kind of lie.

Nicolas: That’s such an fascinating query to method from an performing perspective of, when is that this character mendacity, and who’re they mendacity to?

Leanna: That is one thing that I’ve somewhat little bit of an investigator mind the place I’m all the time like, “Okay, what’s the supply of this assumption that now we have?” If a personality is saying one thing to a different individual, are they honestly relaying an expertise as they bear in mind it taking place? Are they presenting a model of it? Are they only straight up mendacity to attempt to get one thing from the opposite individual? And I believe this play has plenty of moments the place you’re like, “Oh, that is clearly deception.” We are attempting to cover the truth that we’re looking for an abortion. We can’t let individuals know, so we’re going to completely deceive individuals. And I believe that leads many people who find themselves partaking with the textual content to imagine that every thing that isn’t that’s utterly truthful, after I suppose the truth is way more complicated.

Nicolas: I need to return to this concept of mendacity, and why, and to whom, as a result of I really feel like that’s a very current dynamic within the relationship between Rue and Harrison, who’s the sheriff within the city. Let’s unpack what’s happening with these two. From my studying, it looks like Rue has been by this city a number of instances and is meant to have a romantic relationship that can’t be out within the open. As a result of, from what I perceive, queerness is illegitimate on this future post-Roe v. Wade crimson state America—which can or is probably not Ohio, the place I’m presently recording from.

Leanna: As somebody from Ohio, Ohio is my cultural touchstone for that area. But it surely’s additionally an Ohio that’s a number of many years sooner or later, submit local weather change, submit sundering of the nation. So, it could be acquainted as Ohio, however who is aware of what its borders appear to be.

Nicolas: On this relationship between Rue and Harrison, let’s discuss somewhat bit about… What questions do you hope actors, administrators are exploring with that one? What questions have been you exploring with these two as you have been writing?

Leanna: Positive. Some questions that I take into account after I take into consideration these two: what feels good about doing one thing you understand is fallacious? If you understand that one thing is fallacious, does that make it kind of enjoyable to do? Are you able to really be willfully ignorant about one thing? Are you able to really block out a query or an assumption that you’ve about one other individual, or is it all the time there affecting what you do? How a lot of their relationship is sensible by way of, “Oh, if I’m in a relationship with the sheriff, it turns into tougher for the sheriff to bust me for my unlawful actions?” How a lot of it’s looking for consolation? In what methods are they really good for one another?

A part of the problem of Harrison as a personality is that I believe a floor stage studying by most individuals would assume that Harrison is the villain. And for a lot of causes, I believe that’s a very legitimate interpretation. However in writing Harrison, I all the time saved touchstone of, Harrison is the protagonist of Harrison’s play. That is Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters. However within the model that facilities Harrison, the place that’s the character we primarily comply with and check-in on her crime scenes and stuff, she thinks that she’s doing the precise factor more often than not. Even when she’s partaking in one thing that’s unlawful, she thinks that’s the precise factor to do, that she ultimately earns that habits by her different actions. And so I actually hope that anybody partaking with this play takes Harrison, and the people who find themselves like her in the actual world, critically. As a result of in the event you simply write off people who find themselves anti-abortion, for instance, they achieve a lot energy since you don’t take them critically. They usually can get away with much more and do much more and be way more efficient of their agendas in the event you don’t take that individual critically. To not get political on this podcast about transness.

Nicolas: Whoa, we don’t take care of politics right here.

Leanna: Oh, God, no.

Nicolas: Woah.

Leanna: Not politically, however philosophically, let’s say. There’s the frequent phrase that the ethical arc of the universe bends in the direction of goodness and rightness, which simply assumes that over time issues will simply change into higher? Extra liberal, extra lefty. Which utterly ignores the truth that it requires effort to bend time in a sure course. It’s not simply one thing that occurs by magic. And by simply assuming that’s going to occur, we hand over our energy to the universe, and fascists are superb at utilizing unused energy for their very own functions.

Nicolas: I had not thought-about this studying earlier than, the way you framed it this fashion. However the query of… why are these two in a relationship, and the way a lot of it’s that they’re really good for one another and doing one thing for one another? And the way a lot of it’s, “that is handy or that is helpful for Rue?” After which I simply have this thought, Oh my God, is she the villain? Is Rue the villain of this story?

Leanna: Will depend on who you ask, proper?

Nicolas: Yeah. I believe that’s a layer that I hadn’t considered earlier than, that there will be a component of manipulation from her.

I used to be like, “Oh, all trans individuals must be good heroes as a result of then individuals will deal with me higher in actual life in the event that they see how heroic I’m,” when in actuality, issues are a lot extra complicated than that.

Leanna: Sure. It is a large problem for lots of people approaching this play, is that they both don’t see the manipulation that plenty of these characters have interaction in, or they see it and so they resolve that it’s uncomfortable, and they also steer away from it. I believe we’re nonetheless at some extent the place culturally there are so few trans roles on the market on the earth that now we have an innate want for that function to be an excellent individual, a likable character. Like a hero. And by many metrics, yeah, positive. She dangers her life going round offering healthcare that very simply might get her imprisoned or executed—that’s fairly near objectively an excellent factor, in my thoughts—and manipulates everybody round her. Very, very not often does Rue do one thing that doesn’t profit her personal agenda. Very not often is she really selfless, for my part.

And that’s a really, very difficult character to play, and a difficult character to direct and take into consideration and philosophize and theorize about. I simply need to give somewhat little bit of historic context to this as nicely. The title of this play is an intentional reference to Mom Braveness and Her Youngsters by Brecht, which is a brilliant fascinating play for me. And don’t cite me as a scholar on this, however the story that I’ve all the time been instructed about that play is that Brecht principally wrote this play and despatched it out into the world, and everybody apart from Brecht was like, “Oh, poor Mom Braveness. What a tragic hero, all of her children die, it’s so unhappy. We stan Mom Braveness!” And Brecht was like, “No, you morons. My complete level in penning this play was, sure, she loses all of her youngsters, however she’s additionally actually a conflict prison. And we can’t enable sentiment to cloud our judgment of conflict criminals.” Proper?

Nicolas: Very a lot seems like that’s on model response for Brecht.

Leanna: Sure, precisely. Proper? And so for me, Rue is somebody who could be very simple as a creator or as an viewers member to be like, “Oh, we stan. Clearly, she’s the most effective.” And from different views, she is a mass assassin. She is offering abortions throughout the Heartland. Has in all probability carried out a whole lot of abortions, in keeping with her, which signifies that to some individuals she’s a mass assassin, she’s a serial killer, and in the event you don’t take that critically, I don’t suppose you absolutely are partaking with the complexities—each of this particular play and this particular character and the stakes within the real-life present-day conversations round abortion.

Nicolas: Thanks for the historic context.

Leanna: Yeah.

Nicolas: Going to go be a theatre historical past nerd later. I’m like, I have to go learn critiques and see how individuals have been responding, now.

Leanna: If that historic anecdote is just not true, don’t inform me, as a result of I actually prefer it and I actually like telling it on talkbacks.

Nicolas: I believe that tales are equally highly effective, even after they’re not true. They nonetheless do work on the earth. They nonetheless matter.

Let’s discuss somewhat bit about our different pairing on this present, Fade and Hannah. We’ve received Fade, the apprentice… is studying to be an herbalist, and Hannah, a younger girl coming to hunt an abortion. What questions have been you desirous about whilst you have been writing? What questions do you hope actors, administrators discover with these characters?

Leanna: Positive. Fade and Hannah, it’s so cute and likewise so unethical. By most requirements, getting romantically and sexually concerned along with your affected person is a foul factor to do, which is a dialogue that Rue and Fade have explicitly within the textual content of the play that I hope individuals take critically. Fade, to my studying, and I believe to most interpretations, might be the least slick, the least sly, essentially the most straightforwardly trustworthy individual on this play; and interpretations of Hannah vary wildly between productions. Some individuals consider Hannah as really, I don’t imply this disparagingly, however somewhat dumb. Not tremendous clever, not tremendous educated, actually is in a multitude.

After which different individuals consider Hannah as deeply clever, deeply manipulative, conniving. And it’s such an fascinating solution to play the connection between them two. To speak concerning the elephant within the room by way of queer intimacy, these two have intercourse on stage. And within the stage instructions, which I like a playful stage course, I’m actually express. Hear, you’ll be able to simply fade to black and nothing can occur. No matter your intimacy director and your actors are snug with and need to placed on stage, that is one thing that I go away to you to resolve. Textually although, that is what occurs, whether or not or not you really ought to embrace it in your manufacturing.

Nicolas: That is what occurs; we have to know that it occurred.

Leanna: Sure, and there’s sufficient textual content on both aspect of that second that makes it clear what occurs. However I believe what which means is it actually feels harmful. That relationship feels so harmful, given the intensely completely different ranges of energy that these characters have, and the way excessive the stakes are in all potential instructions. Yeah, I like excessive stakes.

And once more, that is one other set of characters the place it’s tremendous fascinating to undergo and observe when they’re mendacity to one another, after they’re mendacity to themselves. What’s a deliberate tactic versus what’s a half-truth? God, I’d love to sit down a pair actors down with highlighters the place they may simply spotlight issues that they suppose are true and spotlight issues that they suppose is perhaps deceptions, and simply evaluate. Like 5 completely different actors takes on, particularly Hannah, as a result of she’s very divisive.

Nicolas: And in addition whether or not the opposite character they’re speaking to perceives the deception or not.

Leanna: Or chooses to disregard it, proper? Yeah. “I believe you’re enjoying me, but in addition, I’m right down to play.” I gave these alternatives to performers in the way in which that Fade and Hannah are written.

Nicolas: Let’s discuss somewhat bit about particularly wanting on the productions that you just’ve seen. This has principally been produced at universities.

Leanna: Primarily, sure.

Nicolas: You’ve gotten to go and journey to go and see at the least two of them not too long ago and work together with the artistic groups concerned, the scholars. What sorts of suggestions have been you getting from pupil actors? And what and who have been they connecting with on this story?

Leanna: Yeah. I like working with college students. They only have such various things that they care about in tales. It additionally signifies that I not often have an age-appropriate forged for this play. I believe that one thing… Okay, one thing that was true about me after I was a pupil is that I used to be fearful of complexity. I actually was searching for ideological purity in my leisure. However I additionally suppose that it speaks to a concern that people who find themselves extra highly effective than me will take fiction as a illustration of actuality and so make assumptions about actual trans individuals primarily based on the trans people who might be in media. And so, I used to be like, “Oh, all trans individuals must be good heroes as a result of then individuals will deal with me higher in actual life in the event that they see how heroic I’m,” when in actuality, issues are a lot extra complicated than that.

And I believe amongst the scholars that I’ve seen do that play, I believe some persons are in that impulse of wanting to search out “constructive illustration”. And I believe others are extra within the fascinating illustration route. And I’m glad, I’m glad for that. I additionally don’t need to get to some extent the place I’m like, “Oh, I might put something on stage so long as it’s fascinating.” I need to be a accountable playwright and by no means ask my collaborators to do something that they don’t need to do. I really feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss concerning the developmental historical past of this play, which is that—

Nicolas: All proper. I need to hear about it.

Leanna: Properly, okay, right here’s the precise factor that’s fascinating. Fade, as a personality, initially is a cis girl, after which the people who we have been casting within the early workshops of this play saved transitioning and popping out throughout the course of. And so now within the revealed textual content of this play I write in that you would be able to play Fade as non-binary or as a lady, and I give strategies of textual content alterations. I’m like, “Okay, if that is what you’re doing, that is how the opposite characters change their language or considerably don’t change their language when speaking to and about Fade.” There are occasions {that a} character would possibly particularly deliberately select to misgender Fade as a result of they should deceive or as a result of they need to harm or as a result of they need to defend in some trend.

And that’s simply because the scholars who have been engaged on the early drafts of this play discovered one thing in that character that resonated with them. And now I believe most productions of this play that occur now have a tendency in the direction of a non-binary character, or on the very least a non-binary actor in that observe. Yeah, I simply wished to honor the developmental historical past and the scholars who really helped me discover that character.

Nicolas: I like that a lot. It makes me so completely happy. And in addition, after all, the actors have been drawn to the play with the trans individuals in it, after which we’re like, “ what?”

Extra and increasingly more, I believe we do have queer communities which might be identical to, “yeah, we settle for as a given that everybody in a given scenario is usually a queer individual or a trans individual.”

Leanna: Oh yeah, it’s only a coincidence. However I really feel like possibly this play is chatting with one thing in me.

Nicolas: In desirous about the completely different productions throughout completely different locations, I’m questioning, did you see a distinction within the response to the present or the sorts of conversations you have been witnessing people having round it, relying on geographically the place it was taking place? I suppose that is additionally a time query, too, of, are we within the realm of—when your full title is Physician Voynich and Her Youngsters: A Prediction—pre- the Supreme Courtroom overturning Roe v. Wade? Has the conversations round this been completely different pre and post- that second? Or in locations like California, Minnesota, Oregon, the place abortion and likewise trans rights are comparatively protected, versus Tennessee and Ohio the place they’re very a lot not? We’ll add in further context in post-production to get the small print proper, however it’s not nice.

Okay. Ohio, on the time of the manufacturing, had a set off ban on abortions after six weeks of being pregnant. It took impact in June of 2022 after Roe vs. Wade was overturned. It was blocked by a courtroom in September and has been held up within the courts ever since then. In order of June 2023, abortion remains to be authorized in Ohio, however tenuously so.

Leanna: Yeah. The subtitle of this play is, “A Prediction by Leanna Keyes,” however that truly wasn’t all the time true. The subtitle of this play initially was simply the Bathroom Customary, “A New Play by Leanna Keyes.” After which after the Standing Rock protests a part of the play got here true, in a means, which is {that a} faculty bus was transformed right into a touring natural drugs facility, that’s an actual factor that occurred; and at that time I used to be like, “Properly, rattling, this factor that was speculative fiction for me to discover some concepts actually does really feel like not simply the longer term, however the current in plenty of methods.” And so the subtitle was modified to “A Prediction by Leanna Keyes,” and I do suppose that there have been completely different responses from audiences earlier than and after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. I believe that beforehand we had some actually fascinating conversations about what it was prefer to win the precise to abortion.

I’ve been very lucky that oftentimes audiences are prepared to share their experiences of what it was like to hunt abortions earlier than abortions have been extensively out there. And now that we’re in a post-Roe v. Wade society, these conversations completely nonetheless occur. However in a bizarre means, individuals have change into much more within the mechanics of how that occurred. It occurs otherwise within the play than it did in actual life. And so, some individuals really get caught up on, “Oh, how is that this completely different from actuality? How are issues alternate?” And I’m like, “No, no, no, no. That’s not the purpose.” Nonetheless we get there, we’re there.

However I did have a really fascinating dialog whereas I used to be in Oregon. Throughout that manufacturing, the neighboring state, Idaho… Once more, that is secondhand data. Don’t cite me. However principally the governor of that state was like, “Hey, you all, abortion is simply too political. You possibly can not talk about something abortion associated in school lessons. You simply can’t do it. We’re simply going to keep away from it till extra stuff shakes out with the Supreme Courtroom and the nationwide dialog.” Da, da, da, da, da.

Nicolas: Just a little bit extra context right here. Idaho’s No Public Funds for Abortion Act went into impact in September of 2022. In response, the overall authorized counsel for the College of Idaho, since it’s a state establishment, issued steering to college and employees cautioning, and I quote, “Classroom dialogue of the subject must be approached rigorously. Whereas tutorial freedom helps classroom discussions of subjects associated to abortion, these must be restricted to discussions and subjects related to the category topic. The legal guidelines mentioned above, particularly together with these addressing selling abortion, counseling in favor of abortion, and referring for abortion will stay relevant. Tutorial freedom is just not a protection to violation of legislation, and school or others accountable for classroom subjects and discussions should themselves stay impartial on the subject, and can’t conduct or have interaction in discussions in violation of those prohibitions with out risking prosecution.”

Formally, the legislation is just not a gag order. Dialogue is technically allowed. In follow, good luck assembly the state’s definition of neutrality and by no means letting on that you just may need a perspective on reproductive healthcare. Actually, it’s a distinction and not using a distinction.

Leanna: The best way that the Oregonians interpreted that was, “Okay, proper throughout our border, we couldn’t produce this play if we have been a pair miles that course versus the place we are actually. We couldn’t even educate this play if we have been a pair miles that course, versus right here in Oregon.” Now, I don’t know whether or not that can shake out in that specific means, however it’s actually amping up the stakes for people who find themselves partaking with this play, the extent to which they, their neighbors, their households, reside the conditions which might be on this play.

Nicolas: As we talked a bit in the past, I received to see the manufacturing at Ohio College again in October. I seen throughout the talkback after the manufacturing that the viewers and the forged, and the questions that have been requested initially, and the place the actors ended up going with their responses gave the impression to be responding much more actively to the abortion storyline than the queer components of the play. Has that been one thing constant throughout the completely different productions the place that’s a lot extra of the main target? Has that shifted with the political modifications not too long ago?

Leanna: Oh, an excellent query.

Nicolas: What do you make of all of that?

Leanna: Oh, what an excellent query. Okay, so I believe-

Nicolas: I suppose as an viewers member who was witnessing that, did you see this too?

Leanna: Properly, I’m going to… Sure, and. Which is, I believe when the scholars are conversing within the talkback setting, fairly often talkbacks do find yourself primarily discussing abortion as a result of it feels so current. And more often than not after I’m speaking with college students offhandedly or between issues, or simply hanging out, having a dinner or no matter, a lot of the dialog is just not really about that. They’re way more on the earth of the play, they’re during which character slept with who. What’s the connection, what are the given circumstances? When did this occur? What’s the element of this world? When did the blue states and the crimson states go their very own methods? I do suppose you’re choosing up on one thing that audiences and individuals who work on this can generally deal with various things.

I do suppose that the talkbacks have undoubtedly skewed way more to be about reproductive healthcare since Roe v. Wade was misplaced. I believe that actually did occur. And I don’t criticize anybody for that. That absolutely is sensible to me that might transfer in that course. I additionally suppose that more and more my performers and a few of my audiences dwell in primarily queer circles, that truly the forged of this play is just not that dissimilar from plenty of school campuses, and I believe that it turns into simpler to simply settle for that as a given as time goes on as a result of increasingly more and extra, I believe, we do have queer communities which might be identical to, “yeah, we settle for as a given that everybody in a given scenario is usually a queer individual or a trans individual.” However what are they doing? What’s taking place to them? Which possibly was not the case when this play was initially conceived.

Nicolas: Yeah. I ponder a bit concerning the thought of what’s current within the viewers’s minds, which—significantly acknowledging my very own positionality, being in Ohio as a trans educator, the place we’re going through lots of the identical points that they have been speaking about at Linfield College with Ohio’s… either side of their legislature have been introducing an entire slew of payments limiting what are you able to speak about within the classroom by greater training and equally limiting issues like political speech, significantly surrounding abortion, significantly surrounding queerness. And inside the world of play, queerness can be unlawful. I’m questioning, Ohio’s additionally a kind of states the place they’re attempting to get that six-week abortion ban by and have been for years, and have equally energetic assaults on trans rights. And I ponder, what can we find yourself shedding if we don’t have a look at these issues in dialog?

Leanna: What certainly, viewers? What certainly, listener, what can we lose?

I imply, all of it comes again to bodily autonomy… possibly.

Nicolas: Yeah. I don’t know if I’ve a solution to that query or not.

Leanna: Neither do I. Neither do I.

Nicolas: I don’t know. I really feel like these are related.

Leanna: It actually looks like there are specific parallels between issues which might be taking place to trans healthcare writ giant, and reproductive healthcare for cis individuals writ giant, and the growing push throughout state legislatures to limit entry to transition care. All to guard the children, proper? In the identical means that abortion being unlawful protects the infants, the candy little infants. That we think about hypothetically, the candy little infants.

Nicolas: That we think about. We’re not involved concerning the youngsters birthing these infants.

Leanna: Completely not. So long as they don’t take hormones or something, they’re on their very own.

Nicolas: For those who do need to dive deeper into this relationship between anti-trans and anti-abortion laws, trans historian Dr. Jules Gill-Peterson has a lot smarter issues to say about it than I do and has an important essay known as, “Towards a Trans Historical past of Abortion.” There’s a hyperlink to it within the transcript.

Okay. A few questions that I like to shut every episode with, and I’m simply all the time interested by people’ solutions to them. Would you want to provide a shout-out to a member of your queer, trans inventive household tree who has impressed you, supported your work, guided you towards the trail you’re on now?

Leanna: They’ve already made a cameo on this podcast, which is Pleasure Brooke Fairfield. Pleasure Brooke Fairfield was a PhD pupil at Stanford whereas I used to be an undergrad at Stanford, and I completely wouldn’t be the theatre creator, scholar, thinker that I’m now. Pleasure and one among her former companions have been really the primary individuals to learn this play out loud, apart from me, in a lounge in Memphis, Tennessee very, very quickly after I had a primary draft. So, intimately concerned within the creation of this play in addition to the season of the podcast.

Nicolas: Earlier than you go, would you allow us with a picture, a snapshot of the way you expertise gender euphoria in artwork or in your on a regular basis life?

Leanna: A second that’s crystal clear to me… is after I was attending a gown rehearsal of a distinct play, and it was within the director’s condo, and it’s a two-hander play that includes two trans individuals in love, and after the gown rehearsal, one of many actors raised this very astute, very, very sophisticated query about transness and the way it associated to… It was a really thorny query, principally. And I felt myself gathering all of my language to clarify away this selection that I’d made within the play, after which I appeared across the room and I used to be like, “Oh, wait, everybody on this room is trans. The performers are trans. I’m trans. Director is trans. I can really simply inform these individuals the reality quite than clarify away a selection.” And that was a second of gender and inventive euphoria in my artwork making follow.

Nicolas: I like how they collide proper there. That’s nice. Thanks a lot for approaching the podcast. It was a delight speaking to you.

Leanna: Thanks. Thanks for having me, and thanks listener for listening.

Nicolas: This has been Gender Euphoria: The Podcast hosted and edited by me, Nicolas Shannon Savard. The voices you heard within the intro poem have been Rebecca Kling, Dillon Yruegas, Siri Gurudev, Azure D. Osborne-Lee, and Joshua Bastian Cole. The present artwork was designed by Yaşam Gülseven. This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. Yow will discover extra episodes of this sequence and different HowlRound podcasts in our feed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you discover your podcasts. You should definitely search HowlRound Theatre Commons podcasts and subscribe to obtain new episodes.

For those who liked this podcast, submit a ranking and write a assessment on these platforms. This helps different individuals discover us. You too can discover a transcript for this episode together with plenty of different progressive and disruptive content material on howlround.com. Have an thought for an thrilling podcast, essay, or TV occasion that the theatre group wants to listen to? Go to howlround.com and submit your concepts to the commons.



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