Dear Woodzick, #3

How do I explain that I use multiple sets of pronouns (for example he/they) to folx in a rehearsal room without making myself the token explainer of all things gender/trans-related?

Dear Writer–

Thank you so much for your question!

The first thing I want to write to you is that you have every right to go through a rehearsal process without being made the “token explainer of all things gender/trans-related.”

That is so real and a point I feel is often lost in conversations about gender diversity: while many trans and non-binary actors are also educators, activists and consultants, not all of us are–AND we are all well within our rights to set boundaries about the scenarios in which we will serve in professional capacities outside the artistic one for which we have been hired. Enthusiastic consent needs to be obtained before companies assume that they’ve gotten a two-for-one deal on an actor/consultant combo.

Below are some recommendations from my three years of experience in rehearsal rooms navigating pronouns (I use they/them pronouns.)

I’d suggest approaching the stage manager and ask what policies the company has about pronouns–what systems are in place for introductions, how is misgendering handled in the rehearsal room, what is the conflict resolution path… Hopefully, the stage manager writes back quickly, with a thorough response.

If not, here are some resources that have been released in the last year to support gender diverse casting, rehearsal and performance practices. I’d recommend putting them in an email response to the SM, with text framing it along the lines of:

“Thank you for your response. In order for me to do my best work, it’s imperative that I’m only referred to he and they pronouns throughout the rehearsal process. Please forward these resources to whomever is in charge of HR and/or ED&I efforts at this company, so they can prepare accordingly for the start of our rehearsal process. I do not have the capacity to serve as a trans consultant for this production.”

https://www.equity.org.uk/media/3465/equity_lgbt-casting-guide.pdf

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.stagesource.org/resource/resmgr/docs/GE_Onesheet_2019.pdf

https://howlround.com/beyond-bathrooms

One of the things I find most helpful is instilling a practice of re-introducing the room whenever new people come into it (designers, dialect coaches, etc…) I have found it most effective if the director or whomever starts the introductions leads by example thusly:

“Hi, friends. My name is Woodzick, my pronouns are they, them and theirs and I’m the director–since we have new folx in the room with us, we’re going to go around and share our names, our role(s) with this production and extend an invitation to share pronouns.”

(I use the invitation language surrounding pronouns when I facilitate after being approached by trans and non-binary folx who either 1) sincerely do not have a pronoun-preference and/or consider themselves pronoun-inclusive or 2) for a variety of reasons, did not feel comfortable/safe being mandated to share pronouns.)

I practice introducing my introduction with pronouns at home before I’m in a new room sometimes, especially if I’m feeling nervous. I want to sound confident AF during that first set of introductions. I recently played Ram’s Dad in a production of Heathers: The Musical, and my introduction went something like this (this was in a setting where there were both youth and adult performers–the directing team had asked me to frame it with a bit of context for the youth performers, which I enthusiastically consented to.)

“Hi, y’all! My name is Woodzick and I use they/them pronouns. I’m playing Ram’s Dad, and either they or he pronouns work for me during our rehearsal process. Never ever she. As actors, we are asked to be vulnerable and I can’t do my best work if my pronouns aren’t being respected.”

In my experience, I have found that the process of doing some legwork with the leadership team before you get in the room often goes a long way to create a smoother ride throughout the rehearsal process. And I also want to acknowledge that trans and non-binary performers shouldn’t have to do that legwork.

And, honestly, sometimes even doing the legwork that you shouldn’t have to do doesn’t have the desired impact. Sometimes people will offer excuses–because excuses are a lot simpler and cheaper than doing the complex work of critically examining and making meaningful changes to the culture of their institution. And in these situations, again, you get to choose how and if you will further engage with that company.

A dear friend from high school recently shared this sentiment:

“People come where we feel welcome, and stay where we feel valued.”

It is challenging for me to take up space in regards to advocating for myself as a non-binary actor. It’s a skill I’m still learning and honing. But I try to never lose sight of my goal: which is to make the theatre industry and its training programs more inclusive of gender diversity.

Because we all deserve a space where we feel welcome and valued.

 
As with any advice column, this is one person’s opinion–if you’re a member of the trans and/or non-binary community and would like to offer advice that differs with that given above, please post in the comments section!
Have a burning question about gender diversity and theatre?

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Dear Woodzick, #2

With costume and fashion relying largely on binary sizing and reference, ie. men’s shoe sizes, women’s bra sizes, etc., how can those of us in the costume industry be more respectful to our non-binary actors and the reality of working within the confines of a largely binary system?

 

Dear Writer,

Thank you so much for asking this question!

Personally, I really appreciate being able to chat one on one with a costume designer before measurements are taken. Even before coming out as non-binary, I’ve had extremely negative experiences with costumers. These experiences have ranged from costumers suggesting I go on a diet to them telling the director they didn’t know how to costume for my body type.

Regardless of body type, gender identity or expression, the actor has already earned their role by the time they get their measurements taken. Having measurements taken is a deeply vulnerable process for some performers.

I’d recommend prioritizing a private measurement-taking session with any non-binary and transgender performers and make sure that you, the director and the performer are all on the same page in terms of the gender presentation of the character they are portraying.

For instance, I’m a non-binary actor who was assigned female at birth. I am comfortable playing non-binary, male and female roles. If I’m playing a male role, I’ll likely want to use my binder, which reduces the size of my chest.

I’d recommend taking a look at the costuming form(s) and seeing if there are opportunities to update the language that’s being used. If there are different forms for men and women, question why that is the case and see what strides can be made to have one form for all performers.

Use language that acknowledges that many clothing choices are still unfortunately enmeshed in the gender binary at the start of a meeting or measurement session, and vocalize your commitment to non-binary and trans actors to create an inclusive environment in which they can voice their boundaries and preferences.

Saying something along the lines of: “Hi, X! My name is X, and my pronouns are X, Y and Z. Before we get started, I want to acknowledge that the way we talk about clothing and costume pieces is often gendered and I want to make this process an affirming one for you. Let’s look at this costume form together before I get the measuring tape out and let me know if there’s anything specific you’d like me to know before we start taking measurements or any notes you’d like me to add to certain fields.”

You may find that non-binary actors wear a mix of gendered clothes and they may have recommendations on brands or cuts that work well with their body. (Personally, I love wearing “men’s” blazers, henleys and button-downs and can buy them off the rack at thrift stores, but “men’s” pants are almost impossible for me to find off the rack.) Folx assigned female at birth who are portraying male roles will likely need some tailoring, depending on their body shape.

Please prioritize anyone who will be touching the body of a non-binary or trans actor having an excellent command of pronouns. It is absolutely awful to have someone taking measurements of your body while misgendering you. (Personally, nothing shuts me down more in a creative process than getting misgendered: anxiety attacks, panic attacks and dissociating can occur.)

Also, check-in with non-binary and trans performers about dressing room assignments and where they want to be placed. There’s a fantastic piece up HowlRound titled “Beyond the Bathrooms: Cultivating Meaningful Trans Inclusion in Theatrical Spaces,” written by John Meredith and Sloth Levine.

“Ensure there are literal physical places in your buildings where trans people feel safe. Before stage managers and wardrobe assume to partition actors into binary dressing rooms (men and women), ask the actors where they would feel comfortable doing costume changes. These conversations should happen well before tech. As a general rule, private options for changing areas should always be available. When in doubt, choose the option that allows actors—trans or otherwise—agency over their bodies. It is important that they feel safe in these spaces in order to produce their best work.”

I think one of the most helpful things you can do as a costume designer is to familiarize yourself with the concept of dysphoria. (Here’s a piece by Teen Vogue were trans and non-binary folx speak about their experiences with dysphoria in their own words: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-its-like-to-be-trans-and-live-with-gender-dysphoria) Not all trans or non-binary folx experience dysphoria, but many do to some extent.

One of the most powerful things costume designers can do is to contribute to a sense of gender euphoria in the performers they are costuming. And each performer will be different. Long story short? Don’t make assumptions, ask questions, empower non-binary and trans performers to tell you what they need to look and feel their best.

And, at the end of the day: clothes aren’t gendered. Folx should get to wear whatever the heck fits them and contributes to a sense of gender euphoria, regardless of the label sewn into it.

-Woodzick

As with any advice column, this is one person’s opinion–if you’d like to offer advice that differs with that given above, please post in the comments section!

 

Have a burning question about gender diversity and theatre?

Ask an anonymous question, and Woodzick will post their answer to this site.

>>Follow this link to ask your question. 

Erica, from Generation Red, by Alexander Utz

ERICA.

Okay. Okay. Fine.

I imagine — that being at a school dance must be so different from what you see in movies. I imagine that it’s really confusing, and there would be a lot going on, but it would be fun, maybe? It would be a good time, I think, with all the music and lights and all your friends there dancing. I imagine I’d want to get it right, I’d want to do everything right, but I have no idea what that would mean.

I imagine driving at night through a familiar neighborhood. I imagine it must be comforting to see everyone’s individual houses and to see all the lights on. It must be like each one has its own personality, just like the people inside.

I imagine being outside late at night must be special, I imagine it to be quiet and peaceful and freeing. Do you ever think of what the night sky must look like from Earth? I can picture the moon up there, bright and clean and close. I’m so used to seeing it there in movies, this big benign dot in the night sky. It’s comforting, in a way. I don’t know.

Context:

Erica, Alan, Denver, and Trish are the first people to be born on Mars. They are waiting to find out the results of “The Test,” which determines the type of work they’ll be doing as adults on the compound. To pass the time while they wait, they play a game creating scenes that imagine what life on Earth would be like, based on the best representation of Earth they know: movies.

This monologue comes after Erica has chosen to act out a homecoming dance scenario inspired by the films of John Hughes.

(Note from Woodzick: all of the character descriptions in the script are open to non-binary portrayals.) 

Learn more at https://www.alexanderutz.com.

Dear Woodzick, #1

As a newly out non-binary artist who is still figuring out how to navigate spaces that I’m not sure are safe, how do you gauge that and what can theaters do to communicate that they are safe places for TGNC theatre artists to work and be out in? Also, how do you overcome fear of professional consequences for correcting people who misgender you or otherwise disrespect your identity? I’m young and sometimes fear that being assertive about my identity will lead artists I work with to label me as “difficult” and it feels like a hard line to walk.

Dear Writer,

First of all—THANK YOU for your question. There are so many trans and non-binary theatre artists who are in precisely the same spot as you are at the moment. So know that you are in fantastic company and there is a thriving community of artists who are navigating these very same questions in our industry.

Second, I am so proud of you for coming out and please know, that even though I haven’t met you, I love you. My hope is that you have the smoothest of paths and find nothing but supportive theatres that will offer you affirming theatrical experiences.

Those things being said, I’ll say that over all (in my experience), folx who work in the theatre industry (and its training programs) are at different levels of awareness and aptitude when it comes to supporting trans and non-binary theatre artists. I work primarily as an actor and a director, and what I offer below are some of my personal experiences and suggestions for ways to navigate this industry.

But before you read them, dear writer, I want you to know regardless of your theatrical discipline(s), you should always advocate for what you need to do your best work. Sometimes will feel easier than others. The fear of “being difficult” will pop up at the most inconvenient times. There will be those who say that they need more time, that they are trying, but they may screw up, that you will need to be patient with them—and STILL: you should always advocate for what you need to do your best work.

Nico Lang is one of my favorite journalists, and he recently wrote a piece about Jacob Lemay, a nine-year old trans boy who asked a question at CNN’s LGBTQ+ Town Hall. At the end of his question, he asked,

“And what do you think schools need to do better to make sure that I don’t have to worry about anything but my homework?”

That question STUCK with me, because every time I feel that “oh, shoot, I might be acting ‘too difficult’ in this moment!’” another voice from within brings up the point that

I deserve to have the same experience as any other actor in the cast.

Each theatre you encounter will have its own approach (or lack thereof) to approaching their equity, diversity and inclusion goals as they relate to gender diversity.

If you’re considering working with a theatre, one of the first things I’d recommend is looking at their “about us” section on their website. This should be where they list some version of their mission, vision and values. Check it out. Take notes—especially on any sections that talk about ED&I in any fashion. Also consider checking out the staff bios. Do folx list their pronouns? Does anyone list LGBTQ+ theatre or audiences as something that they have worked with and/or have a passion for cultivating?

Lack of any of these things isn’t necessarily a deterrent for me, but it gives me a bit of a sense of who might be in the room or making administrative or HR decisions/policy at the company.

Next, as an actor, I’ll look at the character descriptions and/or diversity statement on their audition notices. If all of the characters are listed as only male and female and there is no statement saying “we welcome (or are actively seeking) actors of all genders,” I know that (for me personally), I’m likely going to take the extra step of reaching out the director for the specific project for which I’m submitting.

(Also, dear writer, please know that each year, I see more and more companies using this “all genders” language. I think it’s wonderful and soon hope it becomes standard across the industry.)

Here’s an example of one such email that I sent earlier this year:
Hi!

My name is Woodzick and I’m a non-binary actor (assigned female at birth.) I just signed up for an audition slot for Addams Family–I’ve attached three different photos of different characters I’ve portrayed to give you a visual representation of the range of genders I can portray.

I previously played Alice in this show and love it very much! I’ve also attached my current acting resume–could you give me some guidance as to how you’d like me to dress coming into the audition (what would be most useful for your eye.)

I’m most interested in being considered for Morticia, Gomez and Fester.

Kind of an odd question, but I’d love to have your input–thanks! 🙂

-Woodzick
(they/them/theirs)

 

Woodzick- good afternoon! Thanks for reaching out. I really appreciate it.

You pose an excellent question. Since you are interested in both male and female roles, I would suggest you show up in whatever makes you feel like the powerful and authentic actor that I think you probably are. And should there be a need to see you at callbacks, we can discuss more about what role(s) you are called back for and what we might want to see at that time.

Thanks again, and let me know if you have any questions.

 

I love the way that this email was answered!
Looking back at MY email, though, I see all of my insecurities coming through in the passive language I used to craft it.

Here’s how I would edit it to read as more assertive and general template (and please feel free to use/edit this template as you see fit.)

 

Hi, X–

My name is Woodzick and I’m a non-binary actor. I just signed up for/am interested in submitting for X production.

I’ve also attached my current acting resume—as I play roles of all genders, I am requesting guidance as to how you’d like me to dress coming into the audition (what would be most useful for your eye.)

I’m most interested in being considered for the following roles: X, X, X

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

-Woodzick
(they/them/theirs)

It’s not perfect-and I’m sure there are folx who would completely rewrite this email. But just by writing it and having a moment of connection with a director before coming into an audition, I feel like I’m giving them a head start to have a discussion about trans and non-binary talent and how they envision possibly casting that talent in a show. It’s a question they may not have been asked before. Personally, it makes me feel a little safer, though it may just be a placebo effect.

I list my pronouns on my acting resume in a font that’s the same size as my name, directly underneath it (so they can’t miss it.) I’ve also adopted a practice that my dear friend Kathryn Lynn Morgen (http://www.klmxyz.com/) recommended, which is to clearly state the roles for which I’d like to be considered. This currently lives on my resume as “Open to playing male, female and non-binary roles.” I also choose to break out my resume into three sections: Male, Non-Binary and Female.

If I get to an audition and the form only has a binary male/female option, I will cross it out and write in “non-binary.” If there is not a spot to list my pronouns, I will create a spot and write my pronouns. (And if there IS a spot for pronouns on the form, my expectation is that there will be an invitation for folx who are comfortable to share their pronouns when introductions occur, and that whoever LEADS the introduction will model this during their introduction.)

If I am offered and accept a role in a production, one of the first things I do is reach out to the stage manager and ask them how misgendering will be handled in the rehearsal room. Through years of trial and error, I have found that the most effective way to curtail misgendering is having a stage manager call a “hold” (as you would do for any other actor’s safety), assertively make the correction and move the rehearsal right along.

You may run into situations where (for whatever reason) it isn’t possible for the SM to fulfill this role. If this is the case, once I get to know my cast mates, I’ll ask one of them who seems particularly pronoun savvy to be my pronoun ally/proctor/protector human. Again, it’s not a perfect situation, but I’ve found that when the correction of misgendering expands from a two-point line to a three-point triangle, it becomes far less likely for misgendering to continue.

When it comes to dressing rooms, I’ve been lucky enough to work with theatres so far that have actors self-select which dressing room they feel more comfortable changing in. I know this isn’t always the case—again, I would recommend leaning on the stage management team here to communicate what your preference is.

(Most of the time) I enjoy having conversations with theatres about their practices in supporting gender diversity, but not everyone does. (In my opinion) you don’t need to answer questions that 1) you feel uncomfortable answering and/or 2) are outside the scope of the tasks expected of your fellow cast members/you feel that the theatre should pay a trans or non-binary consultant for your/their emotional and intellectual labor to answer. I’ve found (and have heard from some of my peers) that some theatres will assume that by casting you, they can consider you an unofficial consultant—-again, in my opinion, that is a boundary that only you can set, according to your comfort levels.

To finish out the life-span of a production:

-I take note of who is in charge of publicity/social media for the show in case misgendering occurs in print pieces about the production. If it does, I send a swift request for the PR person to address it.

-I take advantage of post-mortem conversations (either in person or in writing) to offer my feedback of what they may want to consider in future when it comes to trans and non-binary talent.
To address the second part of your question more specifically, the “how do you overcome fear of professional consequences for correcting people who misgender you or otherwise disrespect your identity” part of the question.

I don’t know if I’ve honestly overcome it…

BUT

I have found that feeling the fear and attempting to address these issues anyway has resulted in building more professional connections than burning them. I have seen changes that theatres have made first hand because I or one of my trans or non-binary peers has been offered a place at the table. I see former castmates build more inclusive spaces as directors and teaching artists. I see more and more trans and non-binary talent being cast each year.

AND,

most importantly,

I go back to:
I deserve to have the same experience as any other actor in the cast.

I shouldn’t have to worry about anything other than my homework.

 

As with any advice column, this is one person’s opinion–if you’d like to offer advice that differs with that given above, please post in the comments section!

 

Have a burning question about gender diversity and theatre?

Ask an anonymous question, and Woodzick will post their answer to this site.

>>Follow this link to ask your question. 

On Your Island, from Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed, adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos

Letter Writer #3. Dear Sugar,

I’m thirty-four years old and I’m transgender.

I was born female, but I knew I was meant to be male for as long as I can remember. I had the usual painful childhood and adolescence in a smallish town because I was different-picked on by other kids, misunderstood by my family.

Seven years ago I told my mom and dad I intended to have gender confirmation surgery.** They were furious. They said the worst things you can imagine anyone saying to another human being, especially if that human being is your child. In response, I cut off ties with them, moved away, and made a new life living as a man. I have friends and romance in my life. I love my job. I’m happy with who I’ve become and the life I’ve made.

After years of no contact, I got an email from my parents that blew my mind. They apologized. They were sorry they never understood and now they do. They said they miss me and they love me. Sugar, they want me back.

I cried like crazy and that surprised me. I believed I didn’t love my parents anymore.

I have made it without them. I’ve created an island far away and safe from my past. I made it because I’m tough. Do I forgive them and get back in touch, or do I ignore their email and stay safe on my island? What do I do?

Signed,

Orphan

**The original letter read “a sex change.” The language has been updated in this post to reflect how the current vocabulary surrounding medical transition has evolved.**

Kay, from Deal Me Out, by MJ Halberstadt

KAY. (they/them, nonbinary, AFAB, early 20’s)

(buckets of irony)

It’s really all Elizabeth, she’s always set the schedule: we can go to Lewiston Mall on weekdays, but we can’t be seen there on weekends. Weekends we go to the Auburn Mall. And we can buy things on sale but not from a sale rack. Now that Josephine has her license back, we have to all go together in her car, or at the very least use the buddy system: two at a time. Now and then Elizabeth will go with one other person if Martin drops her off, but the whole point is that no one can ever arrive at the mall by themselves because if we have a hard time syncing up and finding one another we look
retarded—her words, not mine. There was a whole episode when Josephine, Elizabeth, and I were at the mall and then Olivia got dropped off and it was a total disaster. So, buddy system: never one, and never three unless one of us is out of town and it’s, like, a known indisputable fact that the fourth isn’t coming to the mall.

Elizabeth’s new thing is controlling our social media presence. She makes us send pictures to her before we post them, and we have to post at least one picture of all four of us together every week, and we can’t repeat outfits in those; she’s working on a collage or something. And I like started running out of things I wear and she was finally like “This is why we go to the mall. You have every opportunity to buy more tops.”

She lost her shit last month when I cut my hair, because usually she wants approval first and I didn’t ask. And then I told her what it’s really about and her eyes got really big and she was like “You know what, this is totally okay. We’re living in different times, and a little diversity isn’t a bad thing.” She actually wanted Marina in the group instead of Olivia so that we’d have racial diversity but not too-much because Marina’s half-whatever.

And so I was surprised that she was cool about it. But then she started changing some of the schedule and stuff, and talking about branching out. She started hanging out with Klara one-on-one which felt like an interview, especially because her name starts with K too and she’s custom-ordered so much J-O-K-E stuff for her room.

She told me we could still hang out at the mall and stuff, but that she didn’t want to keep me in the weekly group picture but we could still hang out at the Lewiston Mall and at her house, but I should hang back on weekends when they went to the Auburn Mall, and she asked me to stop visiting her at the salon because people kept asking questions and, well she said, it was “for my own good.” She “didn’t want me to feel uncomfortable.”

I said, “Elizabeth, that’s all really sweet of you to look out for me like that, but I have another new rule I was thinking of initiating,” and she was like “What’s that?” and I said, “How about I hang out with you zero days of the week, and we can talk to each other never and nowhere, for pictures, I’ll wear whatever I want and you can say nothing about it because you are not my friend. I like that schedule better.”

Context: The play concerns a board game group who meet to kick out a longstanding member. In this flashback scene, Kay (nonbinary, AFAB, early 20’s) is their high school self, catches a new friend-group up to speed about why they left their old friend group.

More info: MJHalberstadt (at) gmail (dot) com

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Red Claw, from Villains Anonymous, by Lore Burns

Red Claw (they/them): Hello, my name is Red Claw and I’m a villain. It has been eight days since my last attempt at world domination…and I’m freaking bored! How the hell do you people do this? I mean, what’s-his-face, Decapitron, has supposedly been sober for five months?! I call bullshit. Is anyone actually following the creep around? Is there some sort of tracking system? How do we know he hasn’t fallen off the evil wagon? Is this seriously an honour code amongst villains?

I don’t even know what I’m doing here – I freaking love being a villain! The respect, the flexible work hours, managing a team of likeminded individuals…it’s bliss! I’m only here because the so-called ‘good’ guys managed to catch me off guard at a yoga class and slap a taser band on my ankle. I see a lot of you nodding, is that why you’re all here, too? And Miss Goody Two Shoes is the only non-villain in charge? You do realise that if we combined our evil talents we could overcome the taser issue and form a League of Villains more formidable than the world has ever seen? (silence). Wow, you desperately need me as your leader; all this hero brainwashing has clearly addled your brains. You know what? For the first time, I’m glad I wound up here. It’s proving to be a useful networking opportunity.

Context: At present this is a standalone piece, however it has been suggested I expand it and I am open to ideas and collaborations on that front. The general context is that heroes have started a rehabilitation program for captured villains, which seems to be working until Red Claw comes along and refuses to be swayed by the propaganda, instead forming a League of Villains and organising a mass break out from the facilities. Funnily enough, not all of the villains are what we in our world would call villains, but rather anyone who threatens the status quo as defined by the heroes, Red Claw wanting to abolish the gender binary being one.

Contact email: loreofphysics (at) gmail (dot) com

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

School Bus, by Erin Rollman

(written for a genderqueer performer) When I was in junior high, I lived only a block and a half away from school. It took minutes to get there, cut even shorter if I ducked through a hole in the fence and walked right across the small field next to the school building. But every morning I would leave home far earlier than necessary and walk 15 or so blocks in the opposite direction to catch a big yellow school bus. It seems silly to say now, but I did it in an attempt to be normal. I know, I know, but hear me out:

So many kids rode the bus. So many kids complained about riding the bus. It was a part of junior high culture and I was missing out because of the location location location of my home. I mean, I’m sure the proximity to a school is part of the reason my parents got the place. But, each morning I walked in the wrong direction in order to complain about my subsequent bus ride. And each afternoon I rushed out of the building in time to jump on the bus – unable to participate in this after school activity or that one, sometimes dashing out mid-conversation with an “ugh, bus”.

Needless to say, this did not make me ‘normal’. All it did was make my life more difficult. Of course, this should come as no surprise. Normal things – a nerve-wracking phrase, despite or maybe because of its lack of meaning – normal things are always wildly difficult. Isn’t it the case that you never feel more outside of yourself than when you are doing something you think you are supposed to do? Doing normal things is like playing a massive life-encompassing game of follow-the-leader when nobody knows who the leader is – their just sure it isn’t them.

Beat

Here are some other phrases I find nerve-wracking, only some of which have meaning:
fiscal responsibility
hang in there
life choice
truly humbling experience
crystal clear
not an exit
identifies as
and criss cross applesauce … Well, that one’s not nerve-wracking if you really just want me to sit down cross-legged. But if it comes with the assumption that I will be squirm-free and attentive, we might have a problem.

Beat

It actually gives me a little thrill that my young attempt to be normal was, in fact, very, very not normal. I don’t often ride buses at all these days. I sure as hell won’t walk out of my way to hop on an unnecessary one…

I mean that both literally and metaphorically, in case that wasn’t crystal clear.

More info: Erin Rollman is an all-around theatrical badass and incredible human. Learn more about her theatrical work at https://buntport.com/

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Ash, from Poltergeist, by Alika Magas

ASH: Shift supervisor at a gay bar; an awesome kick-ass non-binary individual who knows a solid thing or two about the way the world really works. Very mature while somehow utterly inarticulate. They/Them/Theirs.

ASH. Hey Kitt, it’s me. Obviously. Hey, I, uh, well I just wanted to call and see how the

(HEAVY air quotes on this one, even if it’s not with their fingers.)

“hang out” is going. I still think you’re an idiot for doing this, so I don’t know if silence is a good thing or a bad thing and I’m not trying to like be a total queer dad-mom-parent-whatever about this or anything, I’m really not, you’re a big boy, you got this and shit like that. But. You’re always texting updates when you’re like this– Jeez. Sorry. Look at me, getting over involved in my friends again. Wow. Okay. Well, call me or text me or something? Just don’t do anything I’d tell you not to or regret or– goddamn it there I go again. I’m gonna hang up before it gets worse or the voicemail lady cuts me off. Okay. Call me back or something. Bye.

 

ASH. I’m so so sorry, Henry–

(A long beat. Relive the warning, the attempt, the long night in the hospital afterwards.)

–you were my regular for almost longer than Kitt’s worked there, and I– I should have known. Fuck, I was pouring that beer and… something was up, you’re always jittery but not like that and I didn’t do anything I just let you walk out of that fucking bar while I told my story and all I wanted was to get to the end. How messed up is that? You were sitting there, red flags might as well been on fire, and all I can think to myself is: damn, I hope he doesn’t make some dry joke or interrupts, he really needs to hear the end. I really need him to hear the end. But does it matter?

(Another beat.)

What matters is I was thinking that and you were…

(Beat.)

Can we talk about something else?

 

ASH. Hey Kitt, it’s me. Obviously. Y’all are probably still in the air. Lucky fuckers. Still love you though, any way, I just wanted to know if y’all had a safe flight so call me when you land or something and jesus I’m doing the queer dad mom parent thing again and I still really need to learn to stop with that don’t I? I guess, guess we both do actually. Don’t tell Henry I said this, he’d probably get all defensive and stuff, kid couldn’t take a compliment even if I wrote it into a screamo song, jesus christ, but I’m proud of you two. Like a lot. My two little babies are growing up. Okay that one was intentional, I’m not that bad. I’d like to think I’m not. But… uh… yeah. So remember to do some fun things while you’re out there, kay? I’ve heard Casa Bonita is actually a real place so maybe track that shit down and send me a few pictures or something. We could video chat on the Face time maybe? Okay that is like the single most old-person parent thing that’s ever come out of my mouth so I’m just gonna hang up now before I say anything else or the stupid voicemail lady cuts me off. But, really. Have a good break, smoke a joint, don’t let Henry get too angsty and–

(The voicemail lady cuts them off)

Goddamnit.

 

More info: alikamagas (at) gmail (dot) com

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!