The bright lights of the stage have always been a safe haven for the outcast; people who don’t fit into the regimented bounds of our society who desire an open canvas to express themself in their truest form. Hence why the LGBTQ community has found their home in theatre. Between the actors on stage, the behind the curtain production team and of course the widely accepted narrative of queer stories that a featured in many theatre shows However, the inclusive act that the theatre community portrays only stretches so far.
The theatre industry applauds itself for being such a fierce ally for queer people however in recent years its clear the industry itself is only concerned with the most marketable letters of this community.
Within the many faction of the queer community the privilege individual identities have is varied. Gay men do not get treated the same as trans and non-binary people and its not surprising as the lack of representation across of media is undeniable. We are having the same conversation we did over a decade ago about trans and non-binary representation as we did gay representation. Theatre was the first to act and break the mould and why this not happening again is beyond me. Theatre didn’t pay a mind to the mainstream media reaction and they shared the stories of queer people authentically and flawlessly as in their eyes; it was their fight.
However, the same cannot be said today the theatre industry needs to be held accountable for their actions in the past years the treatment they have shown to non-binary and trans actors is appalling. A prime example of this is the recent production of Jagged Little Pill a new musical based on the music of Alania Morrissette. In the show’s original l form it features Jo who was a non-binary and queer teenager and their plotline centred around their mothers relationship conflict with their gender identity. It’s important to note this character was played by a non-binary actor in the off-Broadway production however when the show was moved to Broadway the character of Jo’s storyline got changed completely and it was clear that jo pronouns were changed to she/her and she was a lesbian. This dramatic change caused a limited yet vocal reaction, which followed the production company to put out a dismissive and vague statement disregarding the previous narration and identity of the character.
This sadly isn’t the first time an event has happened like this is the theatre community countless times trans or non-binary characters have been written out of scripts or when cis actors play trans roles with transgender people as their understudy. The complete dismissal of these issues demonstrates the complete disconnect between the once unbreakable bound between theatre and the queer community.
It’s clear that these issues arise from the closed minded and money hungry side on the industry. However, there is no excuse theatre is one of the few industries where queer people are in a position of power so it’s their responsibility to take a stand to fight for all the many beautiful factions of our community; when no one else will.
Featured Image Credit: The Guradian