NEWS: Defying Gender @ Northern Stage | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Maggie Bain in Man to Man. A Wales Millennium Centre production. Image by Polly Thomas 

This October, Northern Stage proudly presents three critically acclaimed, ground-breaking, gender-bending shows. Firmly grounded in reality, both past and present, these pertinent productions all focus on the theme of gender identity.

The first production in this bold and provocative programme is Seiriol Davies’ fierce, hilarious, ripped-up new musical How to Win Against History, showing from Tuesday 10th until Wednesday 11th October. Opening at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 to a total sellout run and 5 star reviews, ‘How to Win Against History’ is a fabulous costume drama musical about Henry Cyril Paget, the cross-dressing fifth Marquis of Anglesey.

Born in 1875 and poised to inherit the Empire, Paget instead became known for blowing his legendary wealth on staging glittering, diamond-studded plays, in which he loved to perform himself. As a flamboyant transvestite, Henry Cyril Paget burned briefly and brightly.

This hilarious, glitzy extravaganza sensitively presents a timeless exploration of how it feels to be too weird for the world, whilst desperately not wanting it to forget you.

Next up, Manfred Karge’s Man to Man, showing on Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th October, is based on the incredible true story of Ella Gericke in a volatile 20th century Germany. When her husband Max dies and the Nazis are on their way, Ella Gericke courageously and creatively adopts the identity of her dead husband in her struggle and determination to survive.

Wales’ Millennium Centre’s poignant production of this acclaimed one woman play unites a multi-Olivier and Tony award-winning creative team led by directors Bruce Guthrie and Scott Graham. Translated by award-winning playwright Alexandra Wood, this powerful adaptation of ‘Man to Man’ stars Maggie Bain, who recently performed in Emma Rice’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Finally, award-winning transgender artist Kate O’Donnell literally bares all in You’ve Changed, (Tuesday 31st Oct – Wednesday 1st Nov), a follow-up to the autobiographical hit show Big Girl’s Blouse.

is the world changing fast enough? Are we still stuck in the dark ages as far as gender is concerned?

In the 14 years since Kate O’Donnell transitioned, a lot has changed on a personal and societal level. But is the world changing fast enough? Are we still stuck in the dark ages as far as gender is concerned? Drawing on her own hard-won wisdom and experience, Kate shines a searching light on the ups and downs of transitioning, challenging the still prevalent notion that “genitals equal gender”.

Through song, dance, and hilarity, You’ve Changed explores the trans tipping point. In 2014, Time magazine featured The Transgender Tipping Point, promoting transgender visibility – here in 2017 however, transgender people may be more visible, but they are still facing stigmatisation, denial of opportunity, prejudice and violence. There is still so much to be done.

As an award-winning transgender performer, activist, theatre and cabaret maker based in Manchester, Kate O’Donnell creates entertaining, political performances, which exude pride and strength in being a transgender woman. As the Artistic Director of Trans Creative, Kate premiered You’ve Changed at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe to critical acclaim.

These three very different productions unite in one common purpose: to challenge, defy and ultimately destroy rigid gender roles and stereotypes in today’s society. See all three at Northern Stage this October.

The productions will be on show at Northern Stage from Tuesday 10th October until Wednesday 1st November.

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