Shannon TL Kearns is a playwright and the founder and artistic director of Uprising Theatre Company. He is a transgender man. His work as an artist is rooted first and foremost in a belief that marginalized people are the people best able to tell their own stories and that providing space for marginalized people to be able to embody those stories on stage enriches all of us.
My work as an artist is rooted first and foremost in a belief that marginalized people are the people best able to tell their own stories and that providing space for marginalized people to be able to embody those stories on stage enriches all of us. As a transgender man I so rarely see stories on stage that are resonant with my own experience. When I do see stories about transgender people it’s often clear that they were written by people who are not transgender and who have little connection with my community. Because of that the characters are often offensive or one-sided or written with cisgender people in mind. The stories become almost voyeuristic. Allowing transgender people to tell our own stories allows transgender characters to be nuanced and well rounded people. It allows us to tell stories beyond simply coming out and transitioning. It allows us to have lives beyond transition.
I believe that 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. I believe this can be done without being preachy or strident or having only one “right answer” on the table. Instead we can tell stories that invite people who are not directly impacted or affected by the issue at hand to see in a new way by getting to know others who might not be like them. We are also providing a space for people who are directly affected to see themselves represented. In that space they will feel seen, represented, and walk away with a newfound hope. 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.
Time: 2 hours 20 minutes Cast: 4W, 2 transgender men
Pam and Ryan couldn’t be more different. He is a young transgender man and she is an older conservative woman but when they are both diagnosed with cancer their lives intersect in ways that neither of them could have ever imagined.
This work explores questions of identity, relationships, our health care system, and who has control over your body and life.
Son of A Gun:
Time: 120 minutes Cast: 3M, 3W
Greg, a guy on the brink of adulthood, suffers some setbacks and makes a decision that changes everything. 25 years later Joel, another young man, attempts to make sense of the legacy his father left behind. Intertwined stories, from two generations, examine family silences, generational trauma, and the far reaching effects of one person’s decisions.
Who Has Eyes To See:
Time: 140 minutes Cast: 4 cisgender women, 1 transgender man
Jamie, a transgender man, gets called back to his family home by his mother, Catherine, with the cryptic message that his sister, Emily, is in trouble. With the support of his loving wife, Alison, Jamie comes home to confront family struggles, a mother that doesn’t recognize him, and a past that he thought he had left behind but that impacts him in ways he can’t even see. A touching story about family, connections, and what it means to have a home.
The Resistance Of My Skin
Time: 75 minutes Cast: 1 plus size cisgender woman, 1 transgender man
Ayden and Jess have been dating. They both think that tonight might be “the night”, but each one is nervous for their own reasons. Ayden hasn’t been with anyone since his transition. Jess is afraid that her size will make Ayden run away. Can they overcome their insecurities to be intimate with one another? How can they embrace vulnerability in the midst of fear?
Want to know more about Shannon’s plays? Check him out on the New Play Exchange.