big ideas, small stories

In my writing I put stories and bodies on stages and screens we don’t normally see. I explore how specificity in focus leads us to empathy and allows us to engage with questions and issues more broadly. I play in the space of “small stories” that shed light on the “big issues”. I aim to reinvent the kitchen sink drama with characters who have never been allowed to be in the kitchen before.
Shannon TL Kearns

Shannon TL Kearns is a transgender man who believes in the transformative power of story. As an ordained priest, a playwright, a theologian, and a writer all of his work revolves around making meaning through story. He is the founder and Artistic Director of Uprising Theatre Company in Minneapolis, the co-founder of QueerTheology.com, and will soon publish with Eerdmaan’s books. Shannon is a recipient of the Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellowship in 20/21 and he was a Lambda Literary Fellow for 2019 and a Finnovation Fellow for 2019/2020. He is a sought after speaker on transgender issues and religion as well as a skilled facilitator of a variety of workshops. His work with Brian G. Murphy at QueerTheology.com has reached more than a million people all over the world through videos, articles, and online courses and community. Shannon’s plays include Body+Blood, in a stand of dying trees, Line of Sight, Twisted Deaths, The Resistance of My Skin, and Who Has Eyes To See. He’s currently working on a television pilot.

the why

As a transgender man who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church I have been haunted since a young age with questions: Do I belong? Can I find happiness? Is there hope for me? Is religion a force for good or ill? Who’s telling the story and what story are they telling and can I find myself in it? My work centers on telling stories that reflect the community I am a part of. A community that is growing and thriving and enduring. A community that is flawed and beautiful. A community that faces tragedy but also has hope. A community that lives. Stories have the power to change the world. They allow us insight, a chance to create empathy, and transport us to a place where we can allow our hearts to soften and our minds to change. Stories also provide a space for people to see themselves represented, to envision futures that they might not have otherwise been able to dream of. In the times we find ourselves in, this deepening of empathy and cultivation of hope is needed more than ever and so are the amplified voices of marginalized people. And sometimes? Maybe the transgender people get to have a happy ending.

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