By T. S. Chamberland
Staff writer
You will laugh. You may dance. And hopefully, says the co-creator of The Tranny Roadshow, you will leave with a more positive understanding of what it is to be transgender today.
Those are some of the goals of the Roadshow, a self-described show for all ages that rolls into Auburn this evening at the First Universalist Unitarian Church on Spring Street. Described by Jamez Terry as a variety show by transgender performers from across the nation, the two hours of performances are as much light and humorous entertainment as they are insightful.
Terry, currently of Farmington, was working as a house painter four-and-a-half years ago when he enlisted the help of a friend to create some kind of traveling performance art show. Terry had done some performance art, but never any kind of tour. The two soon came up with the idea of an all-transgender show that would tour the country.
The tour is generally over a two-week period in the spring, although fall dates have been added. Venues are often churches, colleges and art centers, in both urban and rural areas. Bringing the show to smaller towns is a must, said Terry, because traveling art is not as accessible there. This will be the show’s first appearance in Lewiston-Auburn and the first time the tour has come to Maine.
Terry, who also goes by Vermicious Knid, is the show organizer and host, who also has an act where he sometimes plays fiddle, tells a story or does a reading. Other performers in the roadshow are Red Durkin of South Carolina, who does stand-up comedy and raps, musicians B.O.I. Sha, Chastine Crystal Patterson and Cathy Worthley (who once played bagpipes while on a snowboard), as well as a few others.
Over the past four-and-a-half years, Terry said, audiences have been surprised at how much they laugh during the show, because many people come expecting something more serious.
“There’s music of all different kinds. It’s the kind of show where you’re going to laugh and you might dance, if you’re so inclined,” said Terry.
While there isn’t a theme or an underlying plot in all of the acts, the show has its own message: diversity, understanding and acceptance. He and those who perform, Terry said, hope people walk away from the shows with a more positive view of what it means to be transgender.
Regardless of the backgrounds and talents of the performers, they all identify as being transgender — born one gender, but identifying more with the other gender. They are from all over the U.S. and use their talents in the show to entertain, while hoping to break the stereotypes associated with being transgender, Terry said, noting that much of what is in the media about transgender individuals and what it is like being transgender today is tragic and negative.
“We’ve always had positive responses at every show we’ve done. We really do draw sometimes surprisingly diverse crowds,” said Terry, who added that this diversity has led to connections that sometimes outlast the performances.
Web reviews of the Roadshow give a glimpse of its eclectic nature:
“The acts are finely tuned and as tight as they have ever been. Moving through highs and lows, the show maneuvered from spoken word to instrumental solos to full-on rock shows with a blend of masculine agility and feminine finesse that only artists who have similarly traversed society can do so deftly,” wrote Joshua Bastian Cole in a review for Trans-Genre.net.
“Within each individual piece, the performers brought their own angle of politics,” said Steven Stothard, events coordinator for Boxcar Books, in a interview for the Indiana Daily Student paper. “Everyone’s experiences are different, which enriched the performance overall.”
The performers in the show are actors, musicians, poets, comics and writers. They come from different backgrounds, ethnicity and religions; they are single, married, have families and are of a variety of ages. And, said Terry, they are people who choose to focus on their talents, traits and other aspects of themselves that make them who they are, and not just the gender they identify with.
“Our show is very much a celebration of our lives,” he said. “We are all different kinds of people.”
FMI: Go to the show’s Web site at trannyroadshow.com.

What: The Tranny Roadshow

When: Today, Apr. 26, 7-8:30 p.m.

Where: First Universalist Unitarian Church, 169 Pleasant St., Auburn

Tickets: $10 


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