Award-Winning Play “The Naked I” Returns to Northampton after 11 Years

The Naked I
Photo: tobiaskdavis.com

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The Naked I  Photo: tobiaskdavis.com

The Naked I
Photo: tobiaskdavis.com

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. —“The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary” returns to its birthplace for a three day run starting on Friday, March 28, 2014. The award-winning play brings to life the rich and colorful landscape of experience that exists between the black and white polar opposites of the gender binary.

“The Naked I” debuted at Smith College in 2003 as the senior project of playwright and social justice educator Tobias K. Davis. The play immediately drew comparisons to Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues”—for good reason: the stories related in “The Naked I” might well have been on Ensler’s cutting room floor. While “The Vagina Monologues” relates the experiences of women, “The Naked I” features tales that include a wickedly funny rant by a transgender woman coping with electrolysis of her nether regions, the eye-opening medical saga of someone with an intersex condition, and the heart-wrenching story of budding romance gone awry for a transgender man who reveals more than his girlfriend—and the audience—expects.

After its original production at Smith College, “The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary” played the National Transgender Theater Festival in New York City, where it starred Laverne Cox. Since then, it has played venues around the country, often produced by the award-winning 20% Theatre Company. The play returns to Northampton for the first time since 2003 as a benefit for Invisible No More, Inc., a Pioneer Valley organization that spearheaded Northampton’s 2013 Trans Pride and Gathering and is planning for the 2014 event. [pullquote]While “The Vagina Monologues” relates the experiences of women, “The Naked I” features tales that include a wickedly funny rant by a transgender woman coping with electrolysis of her nether regions, the eye-opening medical saga of someone with an intersex condition, and the heart-wrenching story of budding romance gone awry for a transgender man who reveals more than his girlfriend—and the audience—expects.[/pullquote]

Playwright Davis has seen the play feature a tiny cast of four actors and run with a full ensemble of actors. This production features an all-new local cast of local actors offers another dimension to the production: using theater to build community.

In fact, that is one reason Davis, who is co-directing the play with singer/songwriter Arjuna Greist of Greenfield, agreed when Invisible No More’s Executive Director, Nycii Vanderhoff, suggested producing the event locally as a benefit.

“When Nycii Vanderhoff approached me, one of the things that was important to me was that she was not just interested in creating good theater, but creating an opportunity where the process of creating the play would be community-building,” Davis said. “I’ve always wanted to see ‘The Naked I’ done as a community-building piece of theater.”

The varied cast does just that, including transgender and cisgender* actors from age 19 to over 50.

“We have a real range of talent,” Davis said. “We have people who have acted for many, many years and people who have never done this before.”

NOTE: This play contains nudity, strong language and sexual situations.

*Cisgender: a term used to describe people who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth; not transgender.

WHEN:

Friday, March 28th at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 29th at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 30th at 3:00 p.m.

WHERE: Helen Hills Chapel at Smith College; 123 Elm St., Northampton, MA; Accessible; Open to the Public

COST:

$5-$20 suggested donation

[From a News Release]