The Naked I: Insides Out – Get to Know Shanny Mac

This winter, 20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Naked I: Insides Out – the 3rd in a series of Naked I plays that explore queer and trans* experiences through monologues, short scenes, and spoken word poems. The show was created over the past year by selecting 25 of 119 stories submitted by community members. This newest installment of The Naked I will involve over 75 LGBTQ artists and allies – including contributing writers, directors, performers, designers, technicians and supporting staff.

You can see The Naked I: Insides Out February 13-23, 2014 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. Purchase tickets now!

Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring interviews from a variety of The Naked I: Insides Out artists.  We recently asked Shanny Mac what they had to say about The Naked I: Insides Out.

Shanny Mac

What is your role in The Naked I: Insides Out? What pieces will you be directing?

I have several roles in this production: Instagram photographer, karaoke event planner, and general promoter of tom foolery. In my official capacity, I am directing Fuck Stereotypes by Love, Femme and True Things I Don’t Say by Galen D. Smith.


What attracted you to The Naked I directing opportunity?

So much that I’ll just give you the highlights: theater, 20% Theatre, gender, queerness, community, Claire Avitabile, directing, Andrea Jenkins, identity, artsy folks, performers, Intermedia Arts, collaboration, Blythe Davis, storytelling.


Briefly, what is your directing background? Education? Experience?


I studied theater with a minor in being a ‘mo at Perpich Center for Arts Education, followed by an interdisciplinary arts degree from Antioch College. I also went through the filmmaking program at Minneapolis College. I’ve directed a number of plays and films over the years, most recently Mammal Stories and Paris in March.


Had you ever seen any version of The Naked I before?


I saw the second production, The Naked I: Wide Open. As soon as the Q&A started after the show my hand shot up to ask, “So, when is the next round happening?!”


What about this production and opportunity excites you most?

This changes daily, but right now I’m just really enjoying being part of this process and meeting and working with all these great artists.


What do you hope to contribute to the show?


Busby Berkeley style musical numbers.


What do you foresee as your biggest challenges in directing for this show or with these specific pieces?

You always want to be true to the work and use an authentic voice when staging personal narratives, but there is a little added pressure when the writer is in the audience. Like, right there. In the front row.


More about Shanny Mac, the person…


What is your pronoun preference?


Whatever’s clever.


If your gender identity was a food, what would it be?

Definitely sweet and salty. Like a peanut butter stuffed pretzel covered in chocolate. Ok, I just described a Take 5 candy bar, so I guess that’s what I meant.


What do you do in the world, outside of working on this production? (job/hobbies, etc.)  


I work at a nonprofit for my day job, but by night I frequent the stages of cabarets around the Twin Cities as the bon vivant with savoir-faire, the pièce de résistance with je ne sais quoi, Randy Dandy.


Shanny Mac, you feel the most naked when…


See: Tobias Funke.


What is your first memory of gender?

Asking my family to call me by a different name when I was maybe 4 or 6. No one ever called me it, but that might partly be because it wasn’t an actual name. It’s too embarrassing to say what I wanted to be called on the internets, but if you ask me in person I just might tell you.

What is your most favorite accessory or article of clothing?

Fancy hats, like a trilby or flat cap. But nothing too flashy, like a derby or a stove pipe, and never a magician’s hat.


Name one of your favorite songs right now.


Nothing that will make me sound even remotely cool or interesting. Next question…

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The Naked I: Insides Out – Get to Know Valencia McMurray

This winter, 20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Naked I: Insides Out – the 3rd in a series of Naked I plays that explore queer and trans* experiences through monologues, short scenes, and spoken word poems. The show was created over the past year by selecting 25 of 119 stories submitted by community members. This newest installment of The Naked I will involve over 75 LGBTQ artists and allies – including contributing writers, directors, performers, designers, technicians and supporting staff.

You can see The Naked I: Insides Out February 13-23, 2014 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. Purchase tickets now!

Over the next several weeks, we will be featuring interviews from a variety of The Naked I: Insides Out artists.  We recently asked Valencia McMurray what they had to say about The Naked I: Insides Out.

Valencia McMurray

What attracted you to audition for The Naked I: Insides Out?

I saw The Naked I: Wide Open at my school winter 2012, I believe. I also participated in the workshop that was held. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like The Naked I and I definitely fell in love. When I heard there was a new show happening, I had to audition and bring my Spoken Word background into the picture.


Have you ever acted before? If so, in what? When?

I’ve done minimal acting. I was in The Vagina Monologues my freshman year of college. My sister is the actor in the family; I tend to stick to my poetry and have done several small shows with that.


What is your role with the The Naked I: Insides Out? What do you like most about the piece(s) you are working on and your relationship to them as performer?

I am one of the performers in Carpenters. I will also be a body in Requiem for the Queers. I don’t know much about the latter, but I’m really excited for Carpenters. It’s written so beautifully. The metaphors, ah ha moments, and emotions it solidifies are all too real for me. If I were a violin, Carpenters would be my bow.


What about this production excites you most?

Being around so many queers, feeling safe, and doing what I love in a way that means a lot to me in an identity type of way.


What do you hope/think audiences will take away from seeing  your piece in The Naked I: Insides Out?

I hope people get what the author of the piece intended for all of us to get. I think that’s a voice to, not simply carry on by hearing, but rise up with.


More about Valencia, the person…


What is your personal pronoun preference?

I don’t have a preference, except not it/it’s/itself.


What is your first memory of gender?

My first memory is when I was 6 and trying to figure out what the difference was between kissing boys and girls.


If your gender identity was a food, what would it be?

Potatoes. There isn’t anything deep there. I just really like potatoes.


You feel the most naked when…

I feel the most naked when I’m naked or being dehumanized for any part of my identity.


What do you do in the world, outside of working on this production? (job/hobbies, etc.)

I’m a Computer Science senior at Augsburg College. I tutor my peers and participate in Students for Racial Justice. I’m also trying to start a trans* and gender non-conforming space on-campus this semester. I’m a geek! I love technology and I’m a huge gamer.


What if the concept of gender didn’t exist? How would that change your life?

The pressure would be off. God, would it be off. An entire system of oppression is upheld by gender (some might argue that there is more than one system); I can’t even begin to imagine how different my life would be.


What is your most favorite accessory or article of clothing?

Hats! Specifically skullies or longer beanies.


Name one of your favorite songs right now.

Flawless by Beyoncé or the whole album, but that’s one one song, eh?

The Naked I: Insides Out – Get to Know Leslie Lagerstrom

This winter, 20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Naked I: Insides Out – the 3rd in a series of Naked I plays that explore queer and trans* experiences through monologues, short scenes, and spoken word poems. The show was created over the past year by selecting 25 of 119 stories submitted by community members. This newest installment of The Naked I will involve over 75 LGBTQ artists and allies – including contributing writers, directors, performers, designers, technicians and supporting staff.

You can see The Naked I: Insides Out February 13-23, 2014 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. Purchase tickets now!

Over the next eight weeks, we will be featuring interviews from a variety of The Naked I: Insides Out artists.  We recently asked Leslie Lagerstrom what she had to say about The Naked I: Insides Out.

Leslie Lagerstrom - playwright for Knock On Wood

Leslie Lagerstrom – playwright for Knock On Wood

What attracted you to The Naked I: Insides Out?

Last year, friends of ours invited my husband and me to attend a production of The Naked I: Wide Open, which we loved.  When the lights went up for intermission I remember them looking at us and saying, “Wow, that was so intense, do you want to leave?” because they knew we had a transgender child and thought the content was more than we could handle.  My husband and I looked at each other and then one of us replied with a chuckle, “…NO, this is our life and this show is providing us with total affirmation!”


What type of role will you have in the production of The Naked I: Insides Out?

My contribution to this production is as a playwright, which seems strange to say because I never considered myself to be one.  I wrote a story about our experience raising a transgender child and I was honored and thrilled to have it chosen to be part of The Naked I:  Insides Out.


What do you hope/think audiences might take away from seeing your piece Knock on Wood in The Naked I: Insides Out?

I’m hoping my story will leave the audience thinking about two different points-of-view that many might not consider – what it is like for a child that is transgender and the challenges their parents face trying to keep them safe and secure within a society that can still be quite intolerant.


What is your pronoun preference?

She/Her


What do you do in the world, outside of working on this production?

I’m an advocate for transgender children and their families.  Through my blog, Transparenthood, I have been able to shed light on what transgender children and their families go through on a daily basis – the good, the bad and everything in-between.  The blog has given me a national soapbox, as The Huffington Post, More Magazine Online, and The Good Men Project have all featured my essays that they found on Transparenthood.  I am also a volunteer speaker for Welcoming Schools – an initiative by the Human Rights Campaign to educate K-12 teachers on transgender issues.  And most recently, I have been invited to be on the Board of Directors of TransActive, a national trans youth advocacy group that provides counseling and referrals to those in need all over the world.  And when I am not doing that I love walking around Lake Harriet with our dog, Molly – a black lab/collie mix of a mutt that we love with all of our hearts.


What is the strangest or most interesting job you have ever had?

My most interesting was the first job I had after college – I was hired by a small advertising firm in the Minneapolis Warehouse District (in 1989 when it was not yet cool to say you worked in that area of the city).  I was given the title ‘Assistant Director of Creative Services,’ which sounded impressive for a new graduate, but truth be told it could have been, ‘Gopher Girl’ because that is what I did for them – ran a lot of errands.  Back then I drove type to the keyliner (that will age me), helped paint sets for commercials we were producing for Daytons and managed the firms accounts payable and receivable.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was probably the best job that I could have ever had because it exposed me to all areas of the advertising field and opened doors for me to be hired to manage an in-house agency of a large manufacturer for the 21 years that followed.


What is your first memory of gender? 

I can’t really recall my first memory of gender.  I believe that our gender is hard wired at birth, and so I have always known I was female and have never questioned other people’s belief as to who they are.


How has your concept of gender changed since raising your children?

I’ve come to understand that gender is a spectrum instead of binary.  Before we had our children I just thought of gender as male or female but have since learned that the concept is more complex and something I wish was more widely understood and talked about within our society.


What has been the most rewarding or difficult part of raising a transgender child?

The most rewarding part of raising a transgender child are the incredible people we have met along the way…people that we would not have had the opportunity to know, respect and love, had we not been given this life experience.  We have been overwhelmed by so many kind souls that we can attest to the fact that good does outweigh the bad – sometimes it just takes a little longer to realize.


What if the concept of gender didn’t exist? How would that change your life?

It would have saved my child and therefore our family a lot of heartache because when he hurts we all hurt.  I envision that without the concept of gender Sam could have avoided a lot of bullying and ostracizing, and his peers would have gotten to know and love him for the wonderful kid he is instead of being influenced by ignorance.


What is your most favorite accessory or article of clothing?

I love my current backpack purse.  It reminds me of a magician’s hat because it can hold hundreds of things and converts to be a cross body handbag that comes in handy when I feel the need to hide some fat rolls (grin).


Leslie, you feel the most naked when…

…we have to share with a stranger that our child is transgender (such as a new doctor, teacher, college recruiter).  I feel naked as I wait to read their reaction…to determine if we are dealing with an ally, someone we need to educate, or a person that is going to be prejudice against my child.


What is your favorite song right now?

‘On Top of the World’ by Imagine Dragons.   I just used the song to accompany a photo montage of trans children from as far away as New Zealand, as close as Mahtomedi and everywhere in between, who are smiling and happy.  Every time I hear the song it makes me smile thinking of all these kids who know their true identity and are brave enough to share it with the world.  We are in good company, indeed!

The Naked I: Insides Out – Get to Know Andrea Jenkins

This winter, 20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Naked I: Insides Out – the 3rd in a series of Naked I plays that explore queer and trans* experiences through monologues, short scenes, and spoken word poems. The show was created over the past year by selecting 25 of 119 stories submitted by community members. This newest installment of The Naked I will involve over 75 LGBTQ artists and allies – including contributing writers, directors, performers, designers, technicians and supporting staff.

You can see The Naked I: Insides Out February 13-23, 2014 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. Purchase tickets now!

Over the next eight weeks, we will be featuring interviews from a variety of The Naked I: Insides Out artists.  We recently asked Andrea Jenkins what she had to say about The Naked I: Insides Out.

Andrea Jenkins

What attracted you to The Naked I: Insides Out?

I saw the first show The Naked I, and was deeply moved by the honesty shared on the stage. It featured trans and queer performers, and the audience was amazing. Coming from a transgender experience myself it was a beautiful thing to watch our collective voice take the stage.

What type of role will you have in the production of The Naked I: Insides Out

I wrote the piece called “A Requiem for the Queers: or why we wear the color purple.” I will also perform the piece.

In the last show, The Naked I: Wide Open, you wrote a piece but did not perform it. How do you anticipate performing your own piece (this time) will change your experience?

The piece I wrote for The Naked I: Wide Open, “Pink and Blue, a (short) Love Story” was deeply personal, I really wanted to see a director and actors take the words and make them their own. I received a lot of positive feedback from the piece. This time I want to take a larger role in the production and challenge myself in a new way by learning lines and interacting with the cast and the audience.

What do you hope/think audiences might take away from your piece in particular? 

“A Requiem for the Queers: or why we wear the color purple” is really a piece about empowerment, it also highlights some events and people that have been very instrumental in the beginning of the Queer Movement in American life. I hope that audiences are informed and inspired to live their lives openly and authentically in a way that takes the movement to a new level focused on Transgender rights and equality.

Now, a little more about Andrea, the person…

What is your pronoun preference?

That is an interesting question, when I first came out as Transgender a little over 20 years ago, I was very sensitive to being mis-gendered and no one was asking this question on a regular basis. Now that it is rapidly becoming more common to pose this question I have become less concerned about the perceived slights and micro-aggressions that come with being mis-gendered. I am more comfortable with being a little ambiguous , that being said, I prefer female pronouns, she, her, etc.

What do you do in the world, outside of working on this production?  

First and foremost I am a Poet, I try to find the beauty and complexity in everything that I do and bring that perspective to the surface. In my day job I work as a Senior Policy for a Minneapolis City Council-member, I have been doing this job for 12 years, it brings me in close contact with other Elected Officials and Policy-makers, as well as direct contact with the community. I am also a teaching artist /activist. I write poetry and prose, plays and performance pieces. I perform throughout the local community and around the country.

One of favorite hobbies is playing Tennis, I’ve played since I was about 14 years old. I like to take long walks and read a good book. Whenever I travel, I try to go a museum or art gallery, or even just take in the public art and architecture of a place.

What is the strangest or most interesting job you have ever had?  

One of the most interesting and I guess some might say strange was that I was a Program Manager for the All Gender Health Program at the Program for Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota. It was the only job that I ever had that required me to watch porn. I had to do outreach to users on porn sites to invite them to participate in the research projects.

If your gender identity was a food, what would it be? 

Tofu- it would take on the identity of whatever the situation called for.

What is your first memory of gender? 

I remember when I was about six years old I saw these two drag queens on the bus. I was with my mother and sister and I was just fascinated by these men in makeup with blonde wigs. For some reason I was trans-fixed by them, and I remember thinking they’re like me? I was confused.

What if the concept of gender didn’t exist? How would that change your life? 

Hmmm…that’s tough, I think that life would be complicated, I think a better idea would be if gender didn’t matter.

What is your most favorite accessory or article of clothing? 

I guess I would say a hat, I wear them year around and really feel comfortable with something on my head.

Andrea, you feel the most naked when… 

As an African American Transgender woman I feel vulnerable and naked everyday, as I walk through the world. I feel like people know my identity and can use that information as a weapon against me.

What animal best describes the concept of gender you have for yourself?

I have a tattoo of a Scarab on my right arm. A scarab is a dung beetle and was revered in ancient Egypt and prominent in their visual art. They were fascinated with the little bug because it was the only life form that could reproduce itself without a partner, in other words, it is dual gendered. It would lay eggs, rolled it in their dung and leave it in the sun to fertilized.