This year at the Fringe, the National Theatre of Scotland have teamed up with the Traverse to present two extraordinary, personal, transgender stories – Adam and Eve. We spoke to the creators of both of them.
Here, talking about Eve, is co-writer and star, Jo Clifford…
What was the genesis of Eve?
I suffered from a lot of prejudice, and I wanted to do something about it. Telling my story in a way that enables people to empathise is the best weapon against prejudice that I know.
Why is it so important that we tell this story now?
We’re in the midst of a profound crisis. Living through a process of profound change in the ways we feel what it is to be a woman and a man. The way we are as human beings.
There’s a struggle going on between old and new; and we trans people are on the front line. It’s a crucial moment: we have to keep working for change.
Both plays are based on intensely personal experiences. What makes theatre the best means to tell these stories?
The fact that at the heart of theatre is an intensely personal encounter between performer and audience. We relate very intensely to each other.
That doesn’t exist in other media.
How has the use of your personal testimony shaped Eve?
I do what I always do: take my experiences and put them on stage. What’s different about Eve is that I haven’t disguised these experiences and put them into the life stories of other characters.
I speak them and I accompany them with photos from my past.
Me and my wonderful co-writer, Chris Goode, have shaped them and given them form just as we always do…
What do you hope will resonate with audiences in contemporary scotland?
A human story of someone trying to discover who they are. It’s a journey everyone must make.
How successful do you think theatre in general has been at portraying the experiences of trans people?
It’s been about as crappy as every other medium.
I’ve been working to change that since the mid-90s, and I’m proud of what I’ve done with plays like God’s New Frock; An Apple A Day; Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost; and The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen of Heaven, which is currently touring South America.
What would an audience gain from seeing both shows as opposed to seeing each as an individual entity?
We both have an amazing story to tell. Me and Adam’s experiences are both incredibly different and yet they come from the same place.