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The Queer-Trans Performance Family Tree is more of a Galaxy

With Guest H. May

Nicolas Shannon Savard: Hello and welcome to Gender Euphoria: The Podcast, a series produced for HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide. I'm your host, Nicolas Shannon Savard. My pronouns are they, them, and theirs.

For this episode, I've invited Dr. H. May back to the podcast to tell them about the digital exhibit I've been researching and building for the past year, the Queer-Trans Performance Family Tree Project. In my attempts to document or piece together trans artistic communities and histories, I keep finding myself returning to questions of queer intimacy and how we make space for and with one another. I am honored to have gotten to share this research and trade stories about making space and mentorship with someone who has been a long-time mentor and collaborator of mine. So, without any further ado, here is the season two finale of Gender Euphoria: The Podcast.

Rebecca Kling: Gender euphoria is—

Dillon Yruegas: Bliss.

Siri Gurudev: Freedom to experience masculinity, femininity, and everything in between—

Azure D. Osborne-Lee: Getting to show up as your full self.

Siri: Without any other thought than my own pleasure.

Rebecca: Gender euphoria is opening the door to your body and being home.

Dillon: Unabashed bliss.

Joshua Bastian Cole: You can feel it. You can feel the relief—

Azure: Feel safe—

Joshua: And the sense of validation—

Azure: Celebrated—

Joshua: And actualization.

Azure: Or sometimes it means—

Rebecca: Being confident in who you are.

Azure: But also to see yourself reflected back.

Rebecca: Or maybe not, but being excited to find out.

Nicolas: All right. So I am back with H. May to tell them and tell you all about the Queer Trans Performance Family Tree Project. Mostly what the project is trying to do is get at these questions of if we have not been on the main stage theatre on Broadway, on even the larger regional theatre stages, then where have we been making our work, and who has been helping support that work to make it happen and keep us developing our artistry?

So I have found that in order to do that and explore those questions, it wasn't particularly useful for me to explore that from a straightforward narrative perspective. Maybe unsurprisingly, the queer trans folks are not about straightforward stories. We jump around in time and space quite a lot, and the format of our art and the kinds of storytelling that we do are rarely linear. So I suppose in a way, it makes sense that trying to figure out and trace back our histories is also not going to be a particularly linear process.

I took a digital humanities pedagogy seminar, an instructional redesign for my classes that I was teaching with Dr. Leigh Bonds at Ohio State, and she introduced me to a whole bunch of different digital humanities tools and ways of going about investigating humanities questions that are not just straightforward, like a book or an article. A lot of what I've been working with is data visualization and network analysis to connect, essentially, a lot of the artists that I've been talking to to their collaborators and their mentors.

Part of that question came out of, first, my dissertation research, where I'd asked a lot of the artists about just generally their artistic background: “How did you come to be working on what you're working on now?” A lot of the time, the stories involved specific people who had shown them a way forward and helped them navigate the path of a performer, especially when those more traditional pathways are not necessarily available to us.

It was particularly interesting that a lot of the same names kept coming up. Multiple times, I heard about Tim Miller, who we'll talk about, and Cherríe Moraga and Sharon Bridgforth came up multiple times. A couple of different folks mentioned the WOW Café or other folks whose names I recognized were connected to that organization. Many of these were people who were seemingly unrelated to each other. Many of these artists, they were living and working on opposite sides of the country. So I got interested, and that was why I started asking folks about their queer trans family trees on the podcast, at first just because I was interested in hearing more of these stories.

Then with the Queer Trans [Performance] Family Tree Project, I was trying to figure out just how interconnected are we? When I went to go learn the network analysis software… Shout-out to Ben Gorham at the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship at Case Western Reserve, who walked me through the process of using this program, GEPHI. We sat down, and one of his first questions was, “All right. So how much do you know about graph theory?” I was like, “Sir, my PhD is in theatre. Assume nothing. This is the first time I have heard the phrase graph theory. I don't have enough tens of thousands of data points for it to make a significant difference what folks' numbers are. But if I did…” He showed me how I could find the most influential person in trans theatre.

May: I was going to say there's something about that that feels very anti the project and anti-trans, of identifying the most important person.

Nicolas: Yeah. Yeah, which was, yeah, exactly, antithetical to the project, which was really looking at who are the people surrounding us and connecting us to each other and really making space for us? Essentially, each person's name is a data point, and there's lines drawn between them representing relationships. So it becomes this big web of interconnected people, which is ultimately what it ends up looking like.

Going in, I expected there to be a few clusters of people who were interconnected, whether it was that they were collaborating and working together or they shared the same mentor. Essentially, that was what it looked like when I first went into essentially turning my dissertation interviews and the interviews from the first season of Gender Euphoria into these webs, these networks.

I had a few different little clusters of people who were connected to each other. Then in looking in that initial network, I saw a few different places where I was like, “Oh, wait. I connect these two people” or “I'm connected to this person as well.” I went back and forth about whether or not I should include my own information in any of this. I don't know if it's as typical in the theatre. It is something that I have struggled with a lot, ironically, as someone who does autobiographical performance, in locating myself in my scholarship, largely because much of my training encourages that more distanced, objective viewpoint, which I know we talked a whole lot about last episode.

If I include my own stories in here, then does that compromise my objectivity as a researcher and historian? Or also… just other general thoughts, like, who am I to put myself in conversation with these artists who I have immense, immense respect for, who have been doing this work a lot longer than I have?” And not wanting to overemphasize my own impact.

But then, ultimately, I decided that I needed to put myself into the data for a few reasons. One, because it was how I got into the project in the first place. It was because I was looking for the people like me and trying to find them. So many of the pieces related to this are so deeply based in relationships and connecting with people and trying to figure out ways of making those connections live beyond just our one podcast conversation or our one dissertation interview.

There's the element that who I am impacts who is easiest for me to get connected to in the first place, because, I guess, how trans and queer art and performance circulates is so relational and word of mouth. And because we're not in traditional archives, a lot of this research has really depended upon me building relationships with people and drawing on relationships that I have and other folks sending me new people to talk to and I'm sure others not responding to my emails because they're like, “Who in the world are you? You're with this giant university. What's my relationship like with institutions like that? Do I trust you to handle my story appropriately? And is this worth my time?” I'm sure in some cases, the answer was “No,” but all of that impacts whose stories I'm able to find and include.

Also, some of these people have now become my collaborators on other things. So as the project grows, I become more and more embedded within these networks than I was assuming (for honestly not very long) that I could just look at from the outside objectively, as if I'm not participating within them. So, I think part of that is just trying to be transparent about how the perspective that I'm coming from impacts, I guess, my telling of the stories and my presentation of all of this.

Then I found a new challenge. If I'm going to include my own data in all of this, then I need to figure out who within my queer trans artistic family tree needs to be included. I'd taken for granted as I was talking to other artists who their mentors and collaborators were, which was generally the direction that I was headed, and it was mostly only including people that they had explicitly said, “this person was a mentor for me,” or just contextually, if they talked about a specific teacher or director that they'd learned something from that they were still carrying with them.

Collaborators were a bit easier for me to figure out who those were. The mentors, I had trouble first figuring out: who fits into that category, and what does it mean to be a mentor to someone? I think, especially in the more informal contexts and for people who I've not necessarily had as much in-person interaction with, you, H., were a clear mentor for me because we'd worked together for multiple years with you in a director and professor role, and I was a student and performer. Structurally, that made sense. Then over time, we've shifted more into a more collaborative sort of thing, bouncing ideas off of each other for projects.

But then there's people like Joy Brooke Fairfield who we'd largely only interacted (before I had them on the podcast) through the Association for Theatre in Higher Ed [ATHE] conference. They were also really active about bringing me in and figuring out where does my art and scholarship fit within the broader field and helping me find that. Then they kept reaching out, kept bringing me back. Wouldn't let me just slowly walk away when I didn't know how to go back into the field at that particular conference. But the time that we've spent together in person has been fairly minimal. But also, they've had a pretty big impact in making those connections and making the path clearer for me.

For people like Tim Miller, who was at HWS [Hobart and William Smith Colleges] for five days for the residency that we did, but also absolutely shows up in my solo performance was the example that I saw that I was able to see any path forward for myself, which I think I've talked about on podcasts before. I was assuming that I was going to leave the theatre entirely at that point in my life. And his ways of working and storytelling absolutely show up in both of my solo shows. I've taught his work in as many of my classes that I can work it into. So I expanded my idea of who fits within that role of mentor.

Then I also had trouble figuring out, “Okay. Should I consider just artistically or just in my scholarship, or should I also include folks who serve as mentors to me as teachers and who I can see really showing up in my teaching?” Ultimately, I decided not to separate those out. For my work, specifically, they're just not super easily separable because I talk about teaching in my art and because who I am as a teacher is also largely who I am as a director. It's hard to draw those clear distinctions between them.

Then I write scholarship about all of it. So I ended up including everybody, and the definition I ended up landing on for, “Okay. Who fits within my queer-trans artistic family tree?” is either who's modeled activism or teaching, art, community-building for me and I can still see those lessons showing up in my work. Or who has taken some sort of intentional action to help shape my career trajectory or actively made space for me to continue doing my work? I decided on “those relationships needed to be specifically personal relationships.” Collaborators, I ended up with, “folks that you've worked together on a shared project for an extended time or folks that you might've worked together with for shorter times around smaller projects, but you continually keep coming back and working with these same people.”

Then I had another layer of people who have had a huge impact on my work who—we've not necessarily created a tangible thing together. A lot of my grad school cohort members, we were in that sort of relationship, where we didn't have one singular project that we created. Or other folks who have had a huge influence on the work that I do and that I'm actively responding to, but we don't actually know each other.

I think in the first minute of my solo show, Five and a Half Feet of Fearsome, I invoke Kate Bornstein as the president of the Gender Deviants and Other Queer Folk of... I'm recording in Ohio, so of Ohio because of the memory of being super early in understanding my gender and my queerness and reading way too late into the night for needing to head off to teach high school in the morning, reading Gender Outlaw and really illuminating so many things in queer community and just understanding myself and that, “Oh, there are other ways of being in the world.”

I went to grad school because Chris Woodworth told me I could be real-life friends with Jill Dolan when I got my PhD, who I had a giant feminist theatre scholar crush on the first time I read her work. Have not become real-life friends yet, and I finished the PhD. Jill Dolan, if you're listening, let's chat sometime.

May: I might be able to hook you up.

Nicolas: For that category of people, which I acknowledge is a bit more fuzzy than the others, I’m thinking about who are we in conversation with, so folks who I'm directly responding to or whose work I'm drawing upon in my work, even if we've not met at all, and also people who I do have a personal relationship with, even if we've not created a thing together. It's the people who I bounce ideas off of, talking through projects with as I'm working on them and problem solving with, even if they're not directly involved in that project, which I think and I'm hoping gets at some of those more invisible and less direct ways of the way that networks of people that we are involved with influence our work, which is incredibly difficult to provide evidence and proof for, if I am being a traditional, very objective historian.

But again, I think with this project, the point isn't to prove any singular person's influence, but more how do I make visible those community connections and those most of the time unacknowledged networks of support that keep our work going and that make it possible to create in the first place?

Maybe the Queer-Trans Performance Family Tree is more like a galaxy, not so bound by time or geography or formally defined relationships. Maybe better questions might be, “Who is part of your solar system? Whose gravity has pulled you in, and who have you pulled into your own orbit? Where do you return to over and over again?”

May: I don't know. I don't even know what this is, but I think it's interesting. When I think about the visuals that you sent me, they remind me less of a family tree and more of a constellation. So there's something like a constellation or a solar planetary system, as opposed to a roots going up into a tree.

Nicolas: After this conversation, I couldn't get H.'s idea about constellations out of my head. Of course, trans history and queer lineage would resist my trying to document it in such a heteronormative and patriarchal structure. Maybe the Queer-Trans Performance Family Tree is more like a galaxy, not so bound by time or geography or formally defined relationships. Maybe better questions might be, “Who is part of your solar system? Whose gravity has pulled you in, and who have you pulled into your own orbit? Where do you return to over and over again?”

Not quite sure yet how those map onto mentors and collaborators and those fellow artists you're in conversation with, but the metaphor feels right. I don't know that it's accurate for me to call Tim Miller my mentor in the traditional sense. For me, he was an asteroid. When our paths collided, it completely changed my course. Back to the conversation.

I believe that it's entirely possible that we are all less than three degrees of separation from each other, which is really exciting, especially when you're often working by yourself in a geographically isolated area. But if I'm thinking historically, I'm also thinking about time, and how do we trace backwards? Where did these networks of support, where do the aesthetics also influencing us in performance practices that we engage in come from?

That's why I specifically wanted to talk to you as a member of my queer-trans artistic family tree and a mentor of mine. Recognizing how many of your lessons and approaches to art-making and community-building in the rehearsal room and just relating to other artists show up in my own work in the day-to-day, I figured it would make sense to start with my own family tree and figure out, “Well, okay. Who did you learn from? Who was influencing you?” to trace backwards in that direction. I know that we've got a couple of shared people in ours. We can start there. Can you tell me a little bit about your queer-trans artistic family tree? I really want to know how you got connected to Tim Miller.

May: I'll be honest. I'm not sure when exactly my path started with Tim Miller. So I have some thoughts, and I'm actually going to go back before him to probably the closest I can think of as my starting kernel or seed or something. That would be Joan Lipkin. I took a graduate class. So, I did a master's at Washington University in St. Louis, and Joan was brought in to teach a grad class. Actually, it was probably not a grad class. At that time, they didn't really have a very robust MA program. They do now. This class was called something like Women in Theatre or something like that. I was the only grad student in the class, so she would have me do a little extra work.

So I took that class from her, and I got hooked up with her in that capacity. She started bringing me into her theatre company, That Uppity Theatre Company, to work with her on the Alternate Currents/Direct Currents Series, where she brought in queer performance artists. I had little to no experience with lighting at that time, I don't think, but these are the good old days. This is probably '92, '93, somewhere in that range. So she had a small little lighting board with the sliders, and I would create lighting cues for these solo performance pieces. That was my first introduction to queer theatre, to performance art, to all kinds of art that rocked my world. I had gone to Grinnell College. My theatrical training was very canonical, traditional. My big breakthrough as a performer was getting to play Ophelia in Hamlet.

A couple of the artists I remember just being mesmerized by, one was Sara Felder, who brought June Bride, which was just this beautiful piece, where she plays violin, and it turns into her father. He talks to her, and it's just gorgeous and evocative. She also juggles, really wonderful performance. So I remember working with Sara Felder. I remember working with Rhodessa Jones, who brought Big Butt Girls, Hard Headed Women to that theatre, and that was just ... Right. Mind-blown. Then, I don't know. I know she brought Tim many times. I don't recall if that was the first time that I was introduced to Tim's work or not. It's possible.

Then Joan has also served as a collaborator with me. So I had the chance to reciprocate the bringing someone in and brought Joan in when I founded Mosaic Theatre Company at Auburn University. She came in when I was full of self-doubt, had no idea whether or not I could even create. I had not really done devised work, and I certainly hadn't been responsible for it. So she was my security blanket, inspiration, co-conspirator, and collaborator that first season and really helped me find my footing, find some new techniques and tools, develop my craft. So I owe a lot of my early queer family tree growth to Joan.

Then there's Tim. So what I do recall for sure is we were much stronger connected by the time he came to HWS to do that residency with us in... I think that was 2015. Does that sound right?

Nicolas: Yes. Yes, it was.

Finding those people who can help you feel sustained and fulfilled and like you belong there was key for me.

May: Okay. I don't know that we had collaborated extensively at that time, but I did know certainly our paths had crossed. He had gone to work with Dr. Tessa Carr at Auburn with Auburn's Mosaic Theatre Company after I'd come to New York. She just had really great things to say about that workshop and residency, so I had reached out to him and brought him in. Then, since that point in time, he's become a frequent... certainly a mentor, a collaborator, and a friend. I am always blown away by Tim's generosity.

So I remember the first time I heard about Tim was back in 1990, when I was in college, and the NEA Four was a thing, when Jesse Helms was a thing; and that moment for me—though, again, I don't remember it being taught really by my fairly traditional theatre training—it was certainly very much in the public consciousness and very much in my own conscious at that time. All four of those artists became real heroes to me in terms of what they were standing for and standing up for and that willingness to fight and take it all the way to the Supreme Court, to fight questions of morality and decency and the ways in which those are weaponized against queer folks.

So he had been in my consciousness that long. So then when Tim and I continued conversing and he became a close friend, someone I turned to, someone who was very mentoring ... I've always been impressed by his ability, again, to mentor my students. I knew there are students in Mosaic [NY] at that time who were going through some really difficult struggles as queer folks, and Tim often was the stand-in family person who continued to follow up and care for folks. But he knew for five days, and this is someone who is doing work with these students and people across the world and is still making that kind of time for folks is just something that I aspire to and fail at and that has always been extremely meaningful to me to witness.

Then he's been very meaningful in my own work. He was honestly there for the seedlings of Rearranging the Furniture shortly after my diagnosis with retinitis pigmentosa. Right after that, I was rocked, and I wound up going out to Directors Lab West in LA and doing a panel on adaptive directing. Then at the end of that, Tim came and met me for lunch and then took me to the airport. We had this beautiful lunch, and we started talking about some of the things that then planted some ideas for Rearranging the Furniture. Then we just happened to be on the same train from Syracuse to New York City at some point in the next year, I guess, and I remember sitting on that train. We just yammered on for however long that took, four or five hours, and brainstorming vision phrases and all these things that then would later work their way into my work.

Then finally, as intimidating as he is to me, and he really is, his work, like you seeing his solo performance work really opened up a plethora of new possibilities. As a storyteller, as someone who is very performative, I aspire to his levels of using his body in performance, but that idea of narrative and yet meandering and all of those things were really opened up by watching his performance. So I'm still shocked, but he was the first person I sent some early, early scratchings of things. He'd send them back with just, “Yay. Keep going.” That was really what I needed, was someone who I so admired saying ... I don't remember him really giving me too much advice about what to do with it. He wasn't interested in editing my work. Just he was that person who was there, saying, “Yes, this is cool. Keep going.” Then I would send him another draft. So yeah, Tim is definitely a huge person in that family tree.

Nicolas: That story makes me so happy.

May: I can also tell you all kinds of stories about Joan. I will say she, like Tim, is also someone who's been a truly vocal supporter. So one of my memories of her was at ATHE one year, I went into a workshop she had started. I don't remember why I was late. But I went in, and it was right after I had received... I hadn't yet started my first tenure track position at Auburn, and she stopped the workshop and said to everyone in the room, “This is H. May, and they just got their first tenure track position. We all know how hard that is. Please congratulate them,” and the room erupted in applause. I just felt so empowered in a field that often does not do that. So yes, finding those people who can help you feel sustained and fulfilled and like you belong there certainly was key for me.

Nicolas: You were definitely one of those people in my artistic journey who's making one of those spaces where I felt like I belonged. I think you came up to HWS. You and Chris Woodworth were hired in the same year. It was my junior year, I think, and I remember you sent out some sort of departmental email or something. There was a link to the Auburn Mosaic, one of their performances, in your email signature, and I clicked on it. I watched that video and was just really excited that there was a different kind of storytelling, and I think it was stated somewhere in there that it was drawn from the lives of the people performing it. I was like, “I want to do that. That sounds so cool.” Then twenty-year-old me had not figured out how to reach out to people via email yet, so I just climbed up. It was the loudest staircase ever in the back of the Bartlett Theatre, up on the third floor.

May: Yes. There was no sneaking up that staircase.

Nicolas: No. Everyone knew you were coming, and I didn't know to just email people to ask when their office hours were. I just showed up at your office door. I rambled about how I watched the video, and it looked really cool. “I want to do something like that. How can I do that?”

May: I do recall that.

Nicolas: But then getting to be part of Mosaic, it was, I think, one of my first experiences really, fully seeing myself as an artist and as a writer. We'd be working on these scenes and things in small groups within the company, devising stuff. If another group was struggling with wording or articulating their idea, there were a couple of times he would send them over to me and be like, “Oh, hey. Shannon will wordsmith this thing and figure out the phrasing.” It was really those little moments that I was like, “Oh, I might be good at this. This might be a thing that I could do.” Making the space where it was possible to be fully in our identities and all of the parts of them was a really big part of that. It was one of the first spaces that I felt like I could be a genderqueer person in the theatre and on the stage.

May: I love that.

Nicolas: I may have dove into that publicly before I was fully emotionally ready to do so, but I think that was more of my own pressure on myself to say things that needed to be said that were not in the space that we were in institutionally, not within the company.

May: Yeah, that's a tough tension. That's something I still am constantly, I think, trying to figure out how to handle, of helping folks figure out if they are or are not prepared to take on. It is interesting, something I think about in my own work, just in terms of I'm very comfortable with putting myself out there through performance. But then the realities of people that you work with or see in... For some reason, I'm very comfortable with that with strangers, but then when I've performed here locally or for campus, I don't necessarily want that same information known in the same way. Yeah, it's interesting.

On the other hand, and I think we've talked about this in writing and so forth, but on the other hand, opening it up onstage, it does then put a pressure on you to continue to speak up or to continue to take action because, for instance, when I was writing my statement for my promotion to full professor, I included a disability addendum, which felt super uncomfortable, but I also felt like, well, I'd already outed myself, so I might as well continue to do the labor that needed to be done for folks who didn't feel comfortable outing themselves publicly. So it was just really a statement about the additional labor that comes with self-advocacy for things like accommodations.

Nicolas: So much, so much.

May: I will also say, to go back to mentors, my students I do get to work with, like you, particularly in things like Mosaic, often wind up serving as my mentors as well. So it's always such a beautiful role, and it has certainly helped me grow into my own confidence as genderqueer. Yeah, and you were a mentor not simply in that regard, but also I remember when you served as a grad student in my Theatre for Social Change class and as such a role as a co-teacher. It's weird here, but where you did pick up a number of those lessons, and your background in education certainly taught me some new approaches to things. I don't know how well I've done it. Mostly I admire them. I'm not sure I always incorporate them into my own teaching at this point, but certainly in terms of learning other ways to approach an exercise. So I learned a lot from you in those spaces as well and have continued to do so when we do share writing or things that we're working on.

Kels Veeder—if I were to also name another student who really pushed at me in a really productive way as regards, “Are you really comfortable either she/her or they/them? I'm happy to validate that if that's true. But if it's not, why are you still sitting over there on that side?” I will say that conversation... Yeah, a couple days later, I quit introducing myself as either she/her or they/them and certainly learned a lot about being a trans artist from working with both you and Kels.

Nicolas: Kels is also a member of my queer family tree. The generations move very fast. But me and Morgan Mayer were each other's queer squad, and then Kathleen Fowkes came and found me and a couple of the other company members in the dining hall after freshman orientation and approached us in a really similar way that I did you and was like, “Hi. This is really cool. How do I do it?” Then she mentored Kels. Then when I came to HWS, which was my first ever officially professional performance of Unpacking in 2018 [correction: the show was Five and a Half Feet of Fearsome], we have a nice family photo of the four of us all together.

But I think that also goes back to some of the support. [It] was when I told, I think, Chris Woodworth that I was working on a show, she was like, “All right. Well, how do I get together the money and rally the department to bring you back and perform it here?” And also set an appropriate payment for that. Because I was going to undersell myself so, so much because my math was like, “Okay. How much would I normally make in a weekend working? You should pay me $200.” That should be enough for all of the rehearsal and traveling here and preparing a talk and a show and doing tech. I learned $200 was not enough to ask for.

May: I think that's also really important mentoring, that often folks, particularly folks who have been excluded traditionally from performance, need help finding. Yeah, what is fair to expect for performance for the work?

Nicolas Shannon Savard: Up until that point, it had been free.

May: Totally. We can feel so grateful to have a spot, right?

Nicolas Shannon Savard: Yeah.

May: There's a lack of willingness to demand compensation or ask for compensation, and folks will take advantage of that. So yes, mentors like Professor Woodworth, who help you recognize not to do that, really important.

Nicolas: I think with mentorship from the both of you–it’s in a lot more informal capacity now. When I have an exciting day teaching and I want to celebrate it, you two are the people that I send that to. Or the questions that I don't feel comfortable outing myself as not knowing in a more formal professional context: “I have been invited to these meetings where Robert's Rules apply. Who is Robert? Why does he make the rules?”

May: Someone knows, but that's what we all want to know.

Nicolas: Or “I just finished this job interview, and this was what they said the responsibilities were. That sounds like a lot to me. Is this a lot?” Then you say, “Yes, do not take that job if it is offered to you. That's absurd.”

May: For what it's worth, I certainly still have those informal mentors that I turn to. So yeah.

Nicolas: You need them.

May: Always important to have the people who have your back. Yeah, absolutely, and who can help you say no or yes or “Yes, but here are the non-negotiables.”

Nicolas: This is where we will wrap up this conversation. You can find a link to the Queer-Trans Performance Family Tree Project in the transcript. I'm in the process of building an audio library where you can hear more of these stories about queer-trans mentorship and collaboration, and I am figuring out ways of bringing in other contributors. So if you want to get involved in the project, let me know. I would love to have you. The queer-trans galaxy isn't going to map out itself.

That is all for season two. Thank you so much for listening; for sharing the podcast; to all of my guests, for sharing your work and your perspectives with us. It has been such a joy to get to be in conversation with all of you. To close out, as is tradition, we will leave you with a moment of gender euphoria, this one from H. May.

May: Gender euphoria is still something I'm searching for a lot of the time. So I would say, Nicolas, as you know, I work in a space that is extremely gender-conscious. So I still teach at an institution that… we're still a coordinate college system with officially a men's college and a women's college. So I'm forced to think about gender all the time, whether I want to be or not.

So for me, gender euphoria is generally found in the theatre, where I can just play and be present in the moment and exploring ideas and fired up and playful and go anywhere, and the world is possible. I can live in those given circumstances with those people in that moment in time, and there's also not an expectation that that is formed, an identity that is formed forever. I think, for me, that's my version of gender euphoria, is the ability to just be, live, explore, and know that this is where I am and now and who knows how any of those feelings will develop or evolve or change or shift, given different people, circumstances, and time, and not caring, just being happy to be there.

Nicolas: This has been Gender Euphoria: The Podcast hosted and edited by me, Nicolas Shannon Savard. The voices you heard in the intro poem were Rebecca Kling, Dillon Yruegas, Siri Gurudev, Azure D. Osborne-Lee, and Joshua Bastian Cole. The show art was designed by Yaşam Gülseven. This podcast is produced as a contribution to HowlRound Theatre Commons. You can find more episodes of this series and other HowlRound podcasts in our feed on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you find your podcasts. Be sure to search “HowlRound Theatre Commons podcasts” and subscribe to receive new episodes.

If you loved this podcast, post a rating and write a review on those platforms. This helps other people find us. You can also find a transcript for this episode, along with a lot of other progressive and disruptive content on howlround.com. Have an idea for an exciting podcast, essay, or TV event that the theatre community needs to hear? Visit howlround.com and submit your ideas to the Commons.

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Thoughts from the curator

Hosted by Nicolas Savard, the Gender Euphoria podcast aims to amplify the voices of trans and gender nonconforming theater artists in the United States and creates an opportunity for trans artists to be in conversation with one another about their experiences working in a field that has a tendency to tokenize them. Each of these conversations will offer a space to share and explore the kinds of cultural work that trans/queer art is doing in the world from an intersectional perspective.

Gender Euphoria


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