Kate O'Donnell Brings New Trans Creative Production To The Lowry
Queer performer, activist, campaigner and theatre artist Kate O'Donnell’s new company Trans Creative are the first trans-led theatre company backed by the Arts Council. Following the huge success of Big Girls Blouse, they are opening their second production You’ve Changed at the Lowry this November.
The company launched in February this year with £134,528 three years’ worth of funding from the Arts Council’s Elevate Fund which is set up to increase diversity in the arts. Kate set up the company to produce work and educational programmes about transgender people and to enhance accessibility in the arts for transgender people.
In the past three years trans referral for young people has increased threefold, showing the demand and need to creatively explore these stories and nurture a confident trans community in arts and culture.
Trans Creative’s production is co-produced by the Contact theatre in Manchester and is part of Contact’s annual Flying Solo festival which celebrates radical performance. The show is set in the 1930s and looks at not only how she has transitioned, but how the conceptions of gender have transitioned in society.
First coming out as a gay man, then a drag queen, and finally a transgender woman, Kate always used theatre to explore her identity. She has created You’ve Changed to show audiences that gender has moved on and that they need to get on board with the revolution. "I want them to be interested and feel it is their job as much as trans people to keep pushing society forward," Kate explained.
Kate wanted to set up a trans led, trans positive and trans creative company to raise positive visibility of trans people. She said: There is still plenty of negativity out there. It’s also based in the north as I think that’s where it’s needed. I hope to give a platform to trans creatives – for them to be part of this discussion for trans issues and to make some good art.”
Alongside taking the show on tour, Kate is working on a project linked to the show called Transing Up Manchester. She explained: “We have worked with all the venues we perform at to get them to improve their trans awareness and be a more trans positive place to visit. We have looked at things like staff having trans awareness training and looking at dropping ‘ladies and gentlemen’ announcements so non binary people feel more included.”
Although Kate is aware that there has been positive change, there is still so much further to go. Change comes in many shapes and sizes. I feel very different about being trans today. I don’t hide it anymore, I am actually proud to be trans,” she said. “People are getting it though and trans people are feeling more confident and able to face the music. It’s not easy but it’s more possible to be who you are these days.”
Through song, dance, wit and wisdom, Kate’s production You’ve Changed is challenging the progression of gender in our society and breaking down the barriers to ask if the world really is changing fast enough.