NOW Festival – The Yard
Emma Frankland’s Hearty is the culmination of the None of Us Yet a Robot Project, which has taken place over a period of 6 years, and which originated as a response to Emma’s transition and the politics around it. Originally an exploration into hormone treatment and similarities with cisgender women who had experienced menopause, the focus of this piece then expanded to include the experiences of trans women in Brazil and Indonesia, as a result of working in those countries for a couple of years.
Hearty set out to challenge complacency amongst white, heteronormative trans people which tend to dictate how the experience of trans people should be like, as well as to announce her own refusal to continue asking for approval. Using a variety of media and tools to explore these themes and deliver her message, I must say that at times, it felt like the production in its various forms – music, lights, sound, set, costume – became too overwhelming and ended up overshadowing the humanity of her journey.
It was difficult to connect through what seemed like a few technical glitches, as well as some costume difficulties, as it took the attention away from the narrative unfolding in front of us, to the more technical aspects of the show. I remember thinking and feeling a few times, that even though I could hear the words being spoken, I couldn’t really hear the message. It wasn’t until the final moments when Emma sang in acapella that I was able to relate to parts of her being, to the piece, and to what she was sharing with us. I wished that Hearty had had more moments like that, of the heart. It perhaps says something about the trans experience in itself, that so much of the outside can overshadow the inside.
It was helpful and welcoming to hear from Emma herself at the end of the performance, as she shared that this was indeed part of a wider project and that this performance was still a work in progress and evolving. It would be very exciting to witness the evolution of this piece and project.
Hearty has now closed, but follow @ELBFrankland on Twitter for details of future work.