TRANSACTING

What is TransActing?

TransActing is a project that engages with trans and/ or non-binary people’s place within the creative and cultural sector.

 

The project began in July 2015 with a 5-day series of Masterclasses and workshops. Since then, approximately 200 people have participated in over 20 classes, panel discussions and workshops.

 

The TransActing project is led by Dr Catherine McNamara (Pro-Dean/ Director of Learning, Teaching and Student Experience at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and co-founder of Gendered Intelligence).

 

The project’s aims are:

 

• To develop and deliver high quality trans-inclusive performer training with trans and/ or non-binary participants

• To nurture the creativity and talent of participants, all of whom identify as trans and/ or non-binary

• To give producers, directors and others involved in making TV, film, radio, theatre and other media access to that talent

• To share a model of practice that might be used by other practitioners and professionals

 

The project began in 2015 as a collaboration with Catherine McNamara and Fox Fisher and Lewis Hancox of My Genderation.

 

The plan was to create safe, gender-inclusive spaces within which trans and/ or non-binary people could participate in voice, movement, text, improvisation and audition workshop sessions.

 

20 people participated in the first series of sessions. Participants tell us that they value the supportive space that the workshops provide, where diverse gender identities and expressions are respected. They were excited by the opportunity to participate in a trans-inclusive arts project at a world-renowned drama school.

 

From the early stages of the project, casting directors and writers were invited to work with participants to share their insight. ‘Alumni’ from that first phase of the project quickly began to secure work and agents.

 

Workshops now take place around the UK. Building partnerships with other organisations is a key aspect of TransActing. Workshops are hosted by and run in partnership with regional theatres and LGBTQ+ theatre companies and arts festivals.

 

We have worked with the Birmingham Repertory TheatreBristol Old VicThe West Yorkshire PlayhouseRoyal Court Theatre,  Scottish Queer International Film Festival  and BFI Flare.

 

Workshops for younger trans and/ or non-binary participants are carried out in partnership with Outbox, an LGBT Theatre Company with a remit of making performance and doing outreach with young LGBT people.

 

In recent years there has been an increase in trans characters in film and television. Almost invariably the characters are played by non-trans actors - Eddie Redmayne playing Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, Jared Leto playing Rayon in Dallas Buyers Club, Victoria Atkin playing Jason Costello in Hollyoaks, Modupe Adeyeye playing Blessing Chambers in Hollyoaks and Julie Hesmondhalgh playing Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, for example.

 

Yet there is cause for optimism. Performers who identify as trans are being cast more frequently -  Rebecca Root plays Judy in the BBC’s sitcom Boy Meets Girl,  Bethany Black plays Helen in Cucumber and Laverne Cox plays Sophie in Orange is the New Black.

 

Seeing representations of trans people on screen and on stage is a relatively rare phenomena, though since the TransActing project began, participants have secured work in a number of creative projects. See the Alumni Success section for more.

 

Together with the BFI Flare 2016 festival team, Catherine McNamara planned the panel event ‘Transform’, which brought together casting agents, film/TV makers and actors for a discussion about trans representation on screen.

 

From the early stages of the project, casting directors and writers were invited to work with participants to share their insight. ‘Alumni’ from that first phase of the project quickly began to secure work and agents.