Jo Clifford: 'I wrote it to discover and express my pride and self esteem'

Jo Clifford: 'I wrote it to discover and express my pride and self esteem'

Jesus, Queen of Heaven writer and performer discusses the constantly evolving work ahead of its Traverse run

From its earliest performances almost a decade ago, Jesus, Queen of Heaven has been a constantly evolving, challenging and devotional take on Christian theology. Jo Clifford's vision of Jesus as a trans woman has become an international success, surprising audiences with its sincerity while still capable of provoking violent resistance.

'I wrote it because I was trying to find an answer as to why I was suffering so much abuse on the street when I first came out, and to discover and express my pride and self esteem,' says writer and performer Jo Clifford. Yet over the years, it has come to express both the advances in the rights of trans people and their continued persecution.

'This is a work of devotion. Of devotion to ourselves and to being present with one another. To commune,' adds director Susan Worsfold. 'It is constantly evolving, changing and deepening, dependent on where those of us who create it are in ourselves and where the audience are in their lives. To witness this is an ongoing journey and a continuous barometer of where the personal present meets the politics of its time.'

The intimacy and intensity of Clifford's performance ensures that Jesus, Queen of Heaven remains a fascinating interpretation of the Christian message, lending it a softly spoken power somewhere between a passionate sermon on compassion and a bold statement of political intent. Programmed as part of the Traverse's Christmas season, more often a time for playful humour than spiritual meditations, it becomes a reminder of theatre's potential as a vehicle for change and challenge.

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 13–Sat 22 Dec.

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven

Jesus is reinvented as a transgender woman in this work written and performed by Jo Clifford.

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