I recently volunteered at the box office of The Nightingale Theatre (above the Grand Central Pub) and am ashamed to say that I never been there before! Part of volunteering meant that you were able to get into the shows on that day for free.
Showing this particular night was Luna, performed by Pretty Good Girl Dance Theatre. Luna is based on the book by the same name by American author Julie Anne Peters, and tells the story of Liam, a transsexual teenager, but from the often overlooked view of someone who loves him, his younger sister Regan.
It seemed as if is this story was made to be danced as the movement added an emotional edge to the tale, and the sparce props and the way in which the dancers interacted with them was very poignant for me. The props consisted of a clothes rail with various flamboyant costumes hanging on it and two large strands of masking tape streched on either side of the clothes rail to the floor.
When Liam encountered a particularly important period of realisation about who he was he danced into the masking tape and got stuck in it as it wound around him due to his frantic movment. His younger sister Regan then helped to untangle him, thus shifting the role of older and younger sibling as she took over care of him.
Later, Regan had a sleepover with her friends and Liam didn’t react with disgust when her friends asked to paint his nails and her friends then began to question what was wrong with Liam, at this moment Regan broke her masking tape and became entangled, however Liam did not help her remove the tape and she had to do it herself.
As an older sibling this reminded me of when I was a teenager, and brought back memories of perhaps not being the one who was looking after, but being the one who was being looked after.
The storytelling aspect of the piece consisted of both dialogue between the two siblings and a narration by mainly Regan. At one point the two discuss what Liam/Luna is in relation to drag queens, are drag queens gay? are they transsexual? and Liam replies with, ‘Well, there’s shades of gray to every gender’. And then went onto to say how their father saw him as a masculine macho boy who played football, or at least this was how the father wanted him to be. This was something that really struck a chord with me as everybody feels these kinds of pressures to be what is expected of them, and what is expected of their gender.
The themes of ‘personal freedom, acceptance and unconditional love’, that ran through the performance felt relevant not only in the context of transsexuality, but in the wider context of gender/race/sexuality.