What's it about?
Inspired by the true story of Miss Gloria Allen, a 67 year old black transgender woman - Mama Darleena Andrews (played by Sandra Caldwell) teaches her etiquette class to young LGBTQ individuals in Chicago ranging from their early teens, to early 30's
What'd I experience?
BEFORE THE SHOW:
The Lucille Lortel Theatre is located on West 4th Street in the West Village, Manhattan. Charm started at 8:00pm, but I arrived in the village around 7:20pm, which gave me about 20 minutes to marvel freely at the beauty I witnessed whilst walking there. The streets here are super duper narrow, but packed with bars, little eating areas, hair shops, lingerie and dress shops that are adorned with LGBTQ flags 🏳️🌈. With the summer season transitioning into fall, the sky was a cool midnight blue, that made the smooth street floors reflect the shops and their neon lit signs. Men and women dressed in colorful outfits chatted with each other as they passed by. In awe as I kept walking, there was a man in drag who looked…...FABULOUS! I just wish I could contact him to help me walk in heels.
AT THE SHOW:
I laughed, cried, and shivered from the AC blasting in this theatre. Mama Darleena means well, teaching these young LGBTQ individuals on how to carry themselves. However, because of the hardships that she went through herself, she’s indirectly teaching them how to fit into a category so that they can face the world with more ease. Fit into the standards of the world so that everything can be less painful. But is that true? Does categorizing yourself under pressure really lead to peace?
The topic of identifying with a sex and playing that role was a motif in this play, and that made my heart jump. Most of the students were poverty stricken, but focused on different things. One was used to living on the streets (prostituting), another gang banging, one coming from a rich home, and one actually going to school focusing on college. Away from their community, they all faced prejudice and attacks, oddly enough they also faced that in the LGBTQ community against each other! As a CIS gender female, I was inspired. Inspired with how they all came to make a family and support each other. I was proud of how they were able to accept themselves also (whether they categorized or uncategorized who they were).
Lastly, I love how this production did not paint the transgender teacher as someone who had it all together herself. She was still bombarded with the societal rules of the world, and learned to open up her mind to something new. At some points, she even referred to herself as a tranny, and was told over and over again about how it was inappropriate and derogatory.
All in all, at my young age still trying to figure out who I am, I realized that I am not alone, just like these students and their teacher. As quoted by one of the characters, “God (or the universe) makes no mistakes.” No matter what gender you identify with, or who you are attracted to, no one is immune from the work that it takes to accept who they are. The beauty has always been there, you just have to accept it!
Want to see it?
What did you experience?
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