Transgender women share their stories in 'Trans Scripts'

Published: Jan. 26, 2018 at 4:52 PM EST
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A New York playwright sets off on a four-year journey interviewing trans women worldwide. Their stories are featured in interwoven themed monologues called "Trans Scripts." This weekend the show will be performed on a Vermont stage. Our Eva McKend caught with the director and one of the stars of the show.

When Amy Engsholman, 38, learned a production of the play "Trans Scripts" was being brought to the stage in Vermont, she jumped to get involved.

"It's always been a facet of life that's just been hidden from a lot of people that I love," the actress said.

The Addison County native started identifying as a trans woman six years ago. She says the play moves away from stereotypes and makes people feel less excluded, less marginalized and more comfortable with who they are.

"All of the characters are an amalgam of people's experience," Engsholman said.

Director Cher Laston worked to bring the production to Randolph after seeing it performed in Edinburgh in 2015 with a group of students from U-32 high school.

"Being in the audience and hearing these women's stories, I came back to Vermont and said we've got to do this. This is just a really important piece," Laston said.

She says she's frustrated by a persistent question she gets from people around the state.

"You cast a play about transgender people in Vermont and you actually have transgender people in the play? Yes, we have transgender people in Vermont!" Laston said.

But she had a harder time casting people of color. Engsholman plays the role of Zakiya, a black trans woman from Richmond, Virginia, a social worker by day, drag performer by night.

"Within creative parameters, I've tried to make her character an effete southern woman so there is no racial overtone to my performance," Engsholman said.

She heavily identifies with her character.

"Family, God, church, being strong and being proud, that's something I'm trying to be," Engsholman said.

If there's anything Laston hopes people take away from the performance, it is the significance of making the hidden seen.

"Our neighbors, our friends are there and we are the ones that are keeping them from being seen," Laston said.

The show is Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph.