Edinburgh Theatre

The year 2015-2016 was a big year for me, coming to Edinburgh after working in the Middle East for several years. One of the first things I did was visit the Festival Theatre, where I fell in love with modern dance (I hate dancing, so don’t switch off if you are also not a dancer). Although I intend to continue visiting the Festival, I will also be trying out other venues, for modern dance, drama, ballet and opera.

Adam (Drama, Edinburgh Festival) 28.08.17


Adam (Drama, Edinburgh Festival) 28.08.17

This was a slick, creative piece of theatre, inventive in its use of characterisation, stage and language. The duality of particular words is turned into a key recurring theme, and language itself – English compared with Arabic – is explored in relation to gender. As I left the theatre, having been part of the standing ovation in a steep, darkly lit auditorium, I reflected on how the mechanics of the play were its brilliant strength. Its actors too throw themselves into their parts, the former asylum seeker Adam Kashmiry immersing himself into his life story, while Neshla Caplan brings the professional versatility to allow the many character switches to work.

So why do I feel like this wasn't quite as good as it could have been? A moment arises towards the end of Adam, when a transitioned Adam talks to his real-life mother via skype. This felt like the first genuine dramatic conflict to me: the tears in the mother's eyes on seeing the person she knew and loved as her daughter speaking with a stubble and a deeper voice. The mother asks: what have you done to yourself? The shock is palpable, and suddenly this drama is no one-sided exposure of the challenges of being a transitioning asylum seeker. There are suddenly other voices involved, ones you empathise with.

How I wish this production or any of the ones I've seen in Edinburgh this summer did more of this. At the end of Adam, we get a video chorus of what looks like a hundred or more trans people online. It is the political zenith of the play's message: that trans people exist and are many. As one reviewer says, it packs 'one hell of a punch.'

But not for me, not this politicized ending of We Are Many. Perhaps because I am trans, and am looking for something more than the political vindication, I wanted the complex mess that I've experienced. I wanted to see the perspectives of others, those who are hurt and damaged by the transition. Why? Because those voices mean so much when you're transitioning, and it's wrong to imagine they don't matter. They fuck you up, and rip you apart in a clash of loyalties between yourself and those who love you. It is this traumatic tearing apart that is most painful of all when being trans, and that minute-long skype conversation apart, it's what's been missing in all the plays I've seen this summer. The agony of being trans is not the medical aspect or the public toilets: it's the loving voices that beg you to stop.

Adam, to conclude, has come closest to exploring those alternative voices, and it is courageous theatre-making all round. But I hope it's the tip of the ice-berg in dramatic explorations of what it is to be trans, and the ambiguities and inner-conflict that come with it.
The Lady Boys of Bangkok (Edinburgh Festival)
Eve (Theatre, Edinburgh Festival) 27.08.17


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Thursday, 06 May 2021

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

May 02, 2021

When Renata Carvalho spoke at Edinburgh Transgender Intersectional/International (2019)

In 2019, I was part of a conference that invited the travesti actress and activist Renata Carvalho - star of Jo Clifford's 'The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven' on its touring production in Brazil - to come over from Brazil as our keynote speaker. We originally uploaded the speech on our conference website, but with that w...
December 22, 2020

Lacanian Icarus: when Gina flew too close to the sun?

On the recent experience of nearly being no-platformed There are two identities in one when it comes to being part of a disempowered minority. The first is for yourself: all your failings, your insecurities, your doubts, and connected to this, your curiosity and quirks. Let's be Lacanian analysts for a moment: what we're talking about is the transg...
November 17, 2020

Trans Hell-thcare

The picture accompanying this post is important to me. I took it yesterday, 16 November 2020, unsure what I'd find. It's been nearly eleven months since I came off oestrogen for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Undoubtedly this has had an effect on me, bodily and therefore psychologically, but the accompanying selfie gives me a reassura...
July 01, 2020

Silenced by The Scotsman

Update: in view of my recent shift towards a more sympathetic and supportive position with Gender-Critical feminism, this blog post might seem incongruous. It does represent my distress at the way the media portrayed the JK Rowling furore at the time. However, since that time, and in further studying the statements and positions of JK Rowling ...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...
November 10, 2019

General Election

General Election 12 December 2019 I spent the last election in an office, alone but for the company of a colleague. We watched the BBC's coverage while I drank wine, downbeat and expecting austerity and the absence of hope to triumph. Then we saw the exit poll and hung around, disbelieving at the sight of the kindled embers and lukewarm glow of a f...
October 05, 2019


October 05, 2019


Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...