Interview: Miranda Porter

Miranda Porter’s new show S/he/it Happens is described as a one-person gender-messing physical comedy show exploring gender expression and identity.  It’s doing a one-off performance at Junkyard Dogs, Brighton, on Saturday 21st July during Trans Pride weekend, then heads to London to the Etcetera Theatre for four performances at the end of the month (31st July – 3rd Aug).  We were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Miranda this week about this exciting new show.

(Interview by Amie Taylor)

AT: To start with, tell us a little about you as a performer and your training…

MP: I graduated last year from Rose Bruford College where I studied the European Theatre Arts course, which was focussed on physical theatre, devising and collaborative theatre making.  And within that we looked at different European models of practice, I was particularly interested in the work of Le Coq and Gaulier and the clown work. I spent a month with Gaulier a couple of years ago and have also participated in a lot of clown workshops.

AT: And I presume that training and the clowning features in the show you’re making at the moment?

MP: Yes.  The idea for this piece stemmed from my practical dissertation project, my original academic question was an investigation in to failure and clown in relation to gender performativity with specific reference to gender as a binary concept and challenging that. Last May I did a 20 minute version of the show which was just the initial concept; the arc of the show was a character trying to achieve a flat chest, with whatever they have available to them.  That’s still the core of the show, but it’s now a 50 minute version, where we get to know a bit more about the character; who they are and where they are. There’s also now a problem with their voice, a vocal dysphoria. And they play with their chest more, with no connotations or taboo, just seeing what it can do.  It could seem a bit avant-garde or serious at times, but I think after you’ve seen 40 minutes or so of chest flattening, it’s nice to acknowledge how silly you can be with your body, and also quite funny to see a boob become an animal puppet… (spoilers!)

AT: You’ve already talked a little bit about the plot, but would you like to elaborate at all, or share any key themes that run through it?

MP: Yes, it’s about transgender identity and gender questioning or non binary identity.  We don’t find out how the character identifies, the audience definitely can speculate and see that they have dysphoria, the the fact that they would like to achieve a flat, conventional “male” chest.

AT: Why is this an important piece for now, in terms of trans or non-binary representation in theatre?

MP: It’s important now there’s been this public awakening that trans people exist; there are a lot of questions within and outside of the LGBT+ community about what is the trans experience?  And although there is some great work out there by trans artists communicating their experience, but there’s not enough. For example, I haven’t seen much theatre about the experience of wanting a flat chest.  I think it’s important to give more voices a platform and widen the perspective, otherwise  people may think ‘oh, that’s what it’s like to be transgender’ after seeing only one piece of theatre.  The more voices of trans actors, performers, directors, the better! What I’m also trying to do with this show is communicate dysphoria non-verbally and with comedy.  I hope the comedy can make it really accessible and help people find a way in; giving them permission to laugh and enjoy it, instead of being made to sit there and be educated.  Often people can get a bit bogged down in the language and terminology, so to take that out of the equation, and what remains is that the show communicates the feeling.

AT: And what, if anything, do you hope audiences will take away from watching?

I’d like them to have a better understanding of gender dysphoria and genders outside of the binary, and that it could be more of a spectrum. And people may leave the show still not knowing the word dysphoria, but I hope that leave knowing what that feels like, and why someone would have surgery, or change their name, or take hormones. People aren’t aware of the difficulties trans people are having in society such as changing their name or accessing healthcare, there’s either a waiting list or it’s very, very expensive. The show doesn’t explicitly tell the audience that, but I hope it will provoke people to find out more.

S/he/it is performing at Junkyard Dogs, Brighton on the 21st July 2018, 7pm.  Book Now.

It is also performing as part of the Camden Fringe, Etcetera Theatre, 31st July – 3rd August 2018.  Book Now.

Sheit Happens Photo (credit Alice Leclerc)

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