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My thoughts on “Harrison Knights: trans musical-theatre actor: ‘I just couldn’t play female roles’.”

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/aug/24/harrison-knights-trans-musical-theatre-actor-nymt-brass

After reading this article, I have been reflecting on some of the discussions that we had during Unit 2B last year. Particularly the conversations we had regarding the impact that race, gender, age etc would have on roles etc.

Personally, I believe that almost every character can be played by anyone providing that it doesn’t upset the context of the play. I.e. If Glinda was black then it wouldn’t make a difference to the storyline. However, if the story was about two gay girls, then one of the parts could not be played by a man as it then changes the meaning of the play to a love story – Not a gay love story. Which makes a difference.

I had not, however, thought about the impact of trans people in the industry and what roles could be opened up to them. In Harrison Knight’s case, his voice, after hormones, dropped by an octave. This change often leaves trans singers with practically no voice.

As a community we should consider what steps we could take to make musical theatre all inclusive.

Perhaps more musicals need to have transgendered characters included inĀ them. Either by writing more musicals/songsĀ about the LGBTQ+ community, or including trans gendered characters in existing musicals. This could help to accommodate transgendered people, as there is a gap in the musical market for these characters.

Perhaps all musicals need to have alternative keys to accommodate trans actors with different vocal ranges, as a person could be perfect for a part, but due to their hormonal treatment can’t reach the notes required.

Personally, I would like to see more trans actors in musicals as there could be a huge pool of talent that we are just not tapping into at the moment. I believe these changes are already starting to happen; ‘Kinky Boots’ is an excellent example of this. However, more needs to be done for the LGBTQ+ community.