Celebration Theatre Recognizes Transgender Experiences
Q&A by TeenTix LA Intern Albert Tran
Happy Pride Month, everyone! We are so excited to celebrate Celebration Theatre’s current production, TALES OF THE TRANSCESTORS. This important show acknowledges transgender individuals and their immense erasure and/or unrecorded moments from history. Based on personal and real-life experiences, TALES OF THE TRANCESTORS brings to you all an interpretative, first-time, live-telling of 6 transgender stories across history. Performed by 6 different artists, it’s a multi-genre experience infused with music, poetry, and one-acts that will bring about an authentic and unique perspective to the intersectional transgender experiences LIVE on stage. We asked Shaan Dasani, the play’s director, to further elaborate on this production.
Why did your organization want to specifically showcase TALES OF THE TRANSCESTORS?
Celebration Theatre’s 40-year mission has been to entertain, inspire, and empower with innovative productions that celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. The stories of our trans* family within that community, however, have too often remained untold. Celebration’s Interim Artistic Director, Ann James [Hamilton, Lempicka] (she/they) says, “This is a show that everyone can learn from and enjoy. I hope that the Hollywood Fringe and PRIDE audiences come out to see these artists bring respect to our community ancestors.”
What message do you (or your team) want for teens to obtain from seeing this play?
We're at a time right now where the conversation around trans* identity in media has been both a powerful tool for visibility and community building and has also put trans people under a sometimes uncomfortable microscope, especially as related to teens. We want younger folks to know that there were people who came before, that this isn't new, and that they are a part of a resilient history, and that resilience is a part of them.
What is an emotion/feeling you and your team hopefully want audiences to feel and why?
Inspired. Here are 6 stories about people who lived in their identity when it might have been near impossible to access community, medical care, stable employment, or other resources we have access to today, but they did it on their terms. They found a way to live true to themselves, which is ultimately what I hope we all strive for.
What is the meaning behind this production and what does it mean to you?
Trans history isn't taught in schools. And the history that has been recorded was many times sensationalized by the media at the time. We wanted to give ourselves a chance to explore the history of trans identity through cultures and through time, and bring these stories forward with dignity and respect, through the interpreted lens of these people, by actors who would feel connected to them. In this rendition, we go as far back as the mid-1800s, focusing largely on people who lived in North America, so this is just a small window into our history.
How important is this production to you and is there anything within the show (that you can disclose) that leaves a lasting impression?
At the end of the day, TRANSCESTORS is not just a show about trans people, it's a show about people and how they lived... some were musicians, some fought in wars, some are more rooted in local community impact.... all of them just happened to be trans. That's important, because seeing our stories from this frame helps humanize our experience beyond just one identity. It helps us be seen as a part of the fabric of society in a more holistic sense.
TeenTix LA would like to echo Shaan, the 6 artists, as well as the rest of the Celebration Theatre team that words have remained truly unspoken for many transgender folks throughout history. This uplifting production celebrates the transgender community and creates much-needed visibility for them. We are so thrilled this production exists -- not just for LGBTQ+ audiences, but for everyone who can gain inspiration from watching it. Just in time for Pride Month, this production is available with our TeenTix Pass for only $5. Fair warning – they only have TWO SHOWS LEFT (one on the 24th & other on the 25th) so once you are done reading this, click on our events calendar tab and make a plan to see this show!