National Theatre Scotland, Tramway, 9th October
The sold-out show of the Adam World Choir at the Tramway, aiming to celebrate the diversity of trans and non-binary experiences, starts with a monologue of Queen Jesus. That’s right, female Jesus in a theatre. “Many churches hate and fear me. People too. I disturb the sense of who they are.” In addition to the fierce text and presence of performer Jo Clifford, there is a beautiful collaboration between the performer and the sign language interpreter who features on stage throughout the whole show. The connection to religion is intriguing, since religion’s attitudes towards anyone not conforming to the conventional male/female-marriage picture still has an influence on how people nowadays view LGBTQ+-folk. But after this mesmerizing opening it’s obvious that tonight will be a different night: one of acceptance and pride and strength.
The Adam World Choir is a community of 120 trans and non-binary people from all over the world, of whom a few members will perform tonight while stories and pictures of others are found in the foyer of the Tramway. The evening consists of performances in the venue and outside, in Tramway’s Secret Garden. Exploring the faintly lit garden with other audience-members and stumbling upon short films by poet and activist Jespa Kleinfield or magical songs by trans-musician Sarah Fanet, accompanied by a wonderful fiddler, is what makes the night unforgettable.
Back inside the Tramway, the audience gets treated to two very different styles of music. Rylan Gleave and Harrison Knights, fighting against the lack of trans-people in the world of musical theatre and composition, perform classical songs with beautiful vocals that work really well together, even though the two only met the day before. Not exactly my cup of tea, but it’s incredible how they’re able to transform the large venue into an intimate space. Completely contrasting their performance is queer-pop-punk-rock-singsong-band-project Tender Bender. Although the strong consideration of the message of the lyrics get in the way of the quality of the songs sometimes, they do bring across important issues like consent, self-determination, empowerment and narrow-minded reactions to gay couples.
This patchwork of different experiences, different performances and different styles of music creates an amazingly interesting night. It seems to be a full picture of trans and non-binary experiences, or as full as you will be able to get. Additionally, it shows the different ways people can take powerful action to change attitudes towards LGBTQ+-people. If only the world was more like the Tramway last Sunday.