St Bride’s Centre, Edinburgh, Thu 29–Sat 31 May
Gay-themed theatre is a rare beast, but drama based around the experience of transsexuals is even more exceptional. This fortnight, The Luvvies, Scotland’s LGBT community theatre company, are set to bring a play about the early years of a male-to-female transsexual to the Edinburgh stage.
Painted Eggs, written by and starring Nicole Dolder, originally started life as a musical about a transsexual (John/Joan) and the effect she has on the people around her. Shortly after joining The Luvvies (to play the part of Mrs Madrigal in Tales of the City), Dolder realised the various set pieces she had planned would work well as an original and powerful play.
‘Most of Painted Eggs is drawn from personal experience,’ says Dolder, herself a male-to-female transsexual. ‘Most of the events occur in the mid-70s when society was not tolerant of transsexuals. I’ve kept some of that atmosphere because I think it still resonates today. The majority of transsexuals in the world remain persecuted, live in fear or find employment in the sex industry to survive.’
While the play has its basis in real-life events, Dolder stresses its fictional nature. Indeed, when writing the piece, she didn’t envisage herself in the lead role. ‘As the play developed it became apparent that the John/Joan character should be played by a true transsexual person. It wasn’t until audition time that I actually decided to take on the role – transsexual actors are extremely hard to find.’
Dolder believes the dearth of similar stories in theatre is due to a desire on the part of transsexuals to disappear within society, taking their stories with them. ‘I have been post-operative for ten years now, and am proud and open about who I am,’ she says. ‘I’ve had some strong experiences, travelled the world and spoken to many transsexuals in various cultures, which I hope has resulted in a unique piece of drama.’