Please note that the perfomances will take place at Auditorium Carispaq “Sericchi”,
via Pescara, 4, L’Aquila
on Friday, March 31, starting at 21:00
My name is Egon
Journal of a transsexual man
Theatrical play edited by Egon Botteghi and Laura Rossi
Egon is a transsexual man, mother of two. During the year he began his substitute hormonal therapy, he kept a journal in which he recorded everything: fears, concerns, bureaucratic hurdles in his transition, the hostility of the external world, as well as, often, of the internal one. But also the exultation at finally seeing himself recognised, the emotion for the social birth of the man who had been living within him, his encounter with queer theories.
In one passage of the journal Egon writes:
“I am a transsexual man.
I am not trans because I want to negate the woman in me, because I’m ashamed of her. On the contrary, when I realized I am trans I understood that I will be able to let my feminine part shine with pure pride. It has nothing to do with everything that is professed about the eternal feminine, and above all I will be able to let the person I actually am truly shine. Ego-n.
Long live Egon the Chimaera, because his is this life”.
This play, based on Egon’s journal, was born to tell the true story of an FtM transition. It originated from the willingness of a cisgender actress to talk about transsexuality, to explore the unexplored.
The origin of the play lies in actress Laura Rossi’s interest in the theme of transsexuality:
«I was particularly interested in FtM transitions. As an actress and author, I wanted to write a play on this theme, even though I had no idea how.
I was looking for a person with an FtM background, to talk with them, ask them, get informed and avoid the risk of saying something wrong, or banal.
Then Egon was introduced to me.
The first time I met him at his place, his son and daughter were present. I had so many questions for him, I was very curious. I wanted to gain information, I wanted to understand what has to be done in order to transition. I knew nothing on the matter.
I had no idea which questions I was allowed to ask, where laid the boundary between my need for information and politeness.
Egon gave me three rules of etiquette:
– never ask whether the person has had surgery
– never address the person using adjectives declined in the gender from which they transition
– never ask their pre-transition name
I haven’t asked any of those questions. In truth, I was the recipient of the most inquiries: Egon wanted to know very specifically what the play was about and how did I mean to represent it. I did not know. I was certain I wanted to do a “necessary” job, in order to swipe stereotypes away. I wanted it to be right, far from the banalities that are so often tossed around.
The second time I went to visit him, he posed the crucial question: “This play you want to write, whom is it about?” About whom, not what.
Egon’s life is extremely interesting, and he is an extremely interesting person: a mother, a man, an activist.
I did not dare asking, it was him who offered: “Would you like to tell my story?”»
The play consists in a monologue in which the protagonist, alone in the scene, relives together with the audience the beginnings of his transition, exploring it anew across the journal’s pages, the life stories, the medical diagnosis, all of which testify of his fight against pathologisation. Alongside the monologue, we see passersby interviewed on the theme of transsexuality, quotes from classic literature as opposed to queer literature, pictures of Egon’s transition phases taken by photograph Sara Casna (which earned her the Social Photography award at the Perugia Social Photo Test in 2016).
The play, in its version played by actress Laura Rossi, debuted in Pisa on May 16, 2015 at the Teatro Rossi Aperto.
In this same version and in the same month it was presented in Verona, within a project for the creation and implementation of information and support desks for trans persons, financed by the Department for Equal Opportunities in the Italian Council of Ministers. During the same year it played in Mantova and Turin as well.
In 2016 it was presented in Bologna at the Teatro Drama within the Rassegna Spettacolare LGBTI “ZE-Zone Eterogene”, and then in Bergamo at the LGBTQI Festival “Divers@ da chi?”
The version played by Egon Botteghi was presented in Milan in 2016, at the Queer Festival Trans Femminista, and in Savona within the project “L’arcobaleno all’improvviso”, funded by the Tavola Valdese.
In this version we propose it here, as we believe it to be a more significant testimony of the incarnation of a transsexual body in our society.
MA in Philosophy with a thesis on the importance of using metaphors in the construction of scientific thinking. Co-founder of the “Intersexioni” and “Anguane” collectives, anti-specist activist, in 2008 was a co-founder of the first livestock shelters in Italy. Representative for trans parenting at “Rete Genitori Rainbow” association (Rainbow Parents Network). Creator of the “Liberazione Generale” (General Liberation) project, a series of day studies on political practice (Florence 2013 and Verona 2014) on the correlations between animal liberation, homo/transphobia, sexism, and intersex rights. Author of the theatrical piece “Mi chiamo Egon. Diario di un uomo transessuale” (My name is Egon. Diary of a transsexual man), debuted in Pisa in May 2015.
Member of the Research Center Politesse- Politics and Theories of Sexuality (University o Verona) and CIRQUE
Presentation edited by Sara Azzarelli and Giuditta de Concini
In the Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam, dancers use their body as a means to tell stories. In particular, Abhinaya, the narrative component of this choreutic form, provides performers with codified series of bodily attitudes, hand gestures and facial expressions through which they become any character of their epic and mythological narrations, flowing between age, class and gender differences. From a mainstream perspective, this play of impersonations is largely considered – among dancers and observers – as a mere matter of acting. However, our performative and ethnographic experiences have allowed us to approach and explore a different modality in the perception of Bharatanatyam’s fluidity. Through our regular study and practice of the dance form and through Sara’s researches in the academic field of Dance Anthropology, we have observed and experienced how the impersonation of multiple characters happening in Abhinaya can become a modality of crossing the cultural boundaries of gender and sexuality, of exploring and expressing identities and behaviours which are frequently socially perceived as “non-normative”. For us, non-Indian performers and researchers, as well as for the social actors encountered by Sara within her ethnographic fieldwork, that is to say, the dancers part of the LGBTIQ community of Chennai (Tamil Nadu, South India), Bharatanatyam becomes a legitimate space of expression and connection, a legitimate space of agency for the performance of the illicit. Through this presentation we aim to share our particular approach to Bharatanatyam, attempting to show – by using both verbal and bodily narrative means – how appropriate the peculiar fluidity characterising this dance form can be to perform the concept of queerness. Furthermore, we would attempt to highlight the embedded queerness in several Indian spiritual and philosophical concepts depicted through myth and enacted through dance.
After obtaining her BA in Anthropological Sciences from the University of Bologna, Sara continues her education through the International Master Choreomundus – Erasmus Mundus in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage, completed in 2014. Dance and Anthropology are equally essential in her education and work: as a dance anthropologist she dedicates to both academic research and choreutic practice, experimentation, creation. The Indian classical dance Bharatanatyam has been so far at the centre of her practice as well as at the core of her anthropological exploration. In particular, her research interests revolve around LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer) experiences related to this specific dance form.
Giuditta de Concini
Giuditta holds a degree in Mass Communication from the University of Bologna. After working for 8 years in the Culture and Communication Dept. of the same Alma Mater she decided to devote herself entirely to her lifelong passions: dance and languages. She is now head of Jaya Cultural Association (www.associazionejaya.it) where she currently teaches the classical Indian performing art Bharatanatyam, while performing in numerous Italian venues. Her collaboration with the University of Bologna continues through lectures on Indian Performing Arts and interpreting and translation services for International guests. Her main research interests beside Indian culture are underground comics, young adults literature, gender issues, queer theory.
Saying Things With Words About Things That Don’t Like Words!!
Poetry and dancefloor performance edited by Gilda Manfring
How do you say the things you are not really able to say with words? !
Premise: as an artist I want to make work that is about the things we understand
intuitively but that are much more difficult to say with words. Paradoxically words,
reconfigured appropriately, seem the best way to describe all these hidden or
apparently liminal things. Within the context of queer art and research, my work seeks
to investigate and develop a language that can transcend categories and can be
expression of the border that both creates isolation and discrimination but that can
represent the place where identities, bodies and desire intermingle and find new places
and ways to communicate.
“I want to explore the borders where things happen and don’t happen, I want to say the
way things feel, rather then understanding them, I just want to see and hear and smell
and touch and taste without explaining, I don’t want to know about superficial causes
or effects. I prefer opaque glitters to the violence of certain illuminations.” !
“SAYING THINGS WITH WORDS ABOUT THINGS THAT DON’T LIKE WORDS” is a project for a
live performance, that combines a poetry reading with a lecture and a suspended
dance-floor. Lyrics about untold things, skins and other borders are said while easy-to listen to beats and loops play in the background.
The set-up includes elements that are reminiscent of situations where women get to speak in public, TV talk shows, big pop concerts, lectures, activism, but are all mixed
ironically with my own presence, my voice, my movements that are more similar to the
ones of a French actress who ended up working in a strip club rather than the
stereotypical presence of the “public-speaking woman”. !
My starting point for this work has been the need of investigating times, situations and
actions that lie at the margins of existence: i.e. the time of waiting, the borders that
skin defines, those hidden, untold things of our existence and trying to know divisions
that these un-known marginal, negative places distractedly create. These poems stem from listening to here and now and not liking
it enough: while writing I am acknowledging this fact, especially while writing I am
looking for ways of staying in the present and liking it a bit more.
As of now, I’ve found out that skin knows more things that word can say and that what I
am trying to do might be looking for personal strategies of survival, a vital yet unstable
attempt at turning vulnerability into affirmation (or into something at least). And I’m
feeling a naif need of sharing it. !
I think one of the purposes of life, or one of the purposes my own life might have, is
saying the things I have to say.
What does it mean to say something in a world that doesn’t stop talking?
Who gets to be listened to in this world that apparently is a place for everyone?
How loud must a woman’s voice be to be listened to? How should a woman look like in
order to be listened to? What would be an appropriate way to make her self heard? !
Appearance gets in the way, not just for who you are, but also for who your own physical
presence might stand for. Your height, your shapes, the colour of your skin, the colour of
your eyes, your voice, the way you move, your accent. Your “gender”. The clues about
your sexual orientation.
That’s why visual/image production doesn’t feel able to hold the ambiguity I need for
the exploration for this marginal places. !
I’m feeling the need to develop a language that can take into account all these
elements, questions, aesthetical and research needs. !
The musical/sound counterpart of the texts I’ve been composing for this performance,
suggest the comfortable isolation of dance floors and the reassuring escapism of pop
music. The irresistible seductiveness of catchy melodies, the attractiveness of too-easy
to objectify female bodies and voices, the reassuring predictability of repetitions and
beats are all elements that I’m using to tell of the borderline situation of being and not
being “here and now”, and also as a way of making what I’m saying easier to listen to,
catchy, repetitive, aesthetically pleasant. A way of making my self heard, that’s
clashing, but not too evidently, with the commitment of some of the things I am saying
in words, but that are not all the things I am trying to say. !!
SAYING THINGS WITH WORDS ABOUT THINGS THAT DON’T LIKE WORDS ll the materials can be listened to here:
- ABOUT THREE KIND OF THINGS
LIST, SOME THINGS
STROBING DUST !
- ABOUT SKIN MATTERS AND OTHER QUESTIONS
WE (ACQUA) !
- ABOUT ENDINGS & BORDERS
AND YOU (DANCE)
FIREWORKS 03:00 !!!!
Artist, currently based in Milan. After graduating in 2015 at London
College of Communication, University of the Arts London, with an MA in Sound Arts, I
have been carrying on an independent artistic research and producing work that
stands in between poetry, music, spoken word, performance and experimental sound. I
am interested in expressing all that remains unexpressed, untold, unheard, that’s
where I find artistic resources but also political potential for change.
Belated Witnesses and Their Precocious Testimony: Queer Lives of Aging Women and our Queer Futures.
Video projection edited by Simona Dumitriu
Since 2015 I have begun, with my life and work partner, a research project, aiming to find out how LBTQ (lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer) women lived in pre-89 Romania – and about the present conditions of aging queer women. We both identify as lesbians and as such, revolve around the void of local history/herstories that would ground our present-day experiences. As many other LGBTQI persons outside Northern America/Western Europe, we constructed our background, safety words and memory from the culture of others, from struggles extremely different from ours. As a result we live with a constant out of body experience, since our bodies became constructions of this incessant cosmopolitanism. Yet, the regionalism of memory makes me cultivate the need to map the specific blend of homophobia, racism, religious and national factors contributing to the making of the place we call home. So, what kind of history can be re-constructed in order to inform our (local) present and become precocious testimony for our futures?
Shoshana Felman1 defined precocious testimony as being “in advance of the control of consciousness”. It is speaking even before understanding what you speak of, before having a historicized frame. I am interested in how a collection of fragmented stories, some of them coming from women over 50, others indirect hearsay and recollections from younger LBTQ women, can constitute a corpus of precocious testimonies and can permeate, through performance, to inform our present and our future old age. I am in the process of meeting and interviewing Romanian women over 50 willing to share their experiences and life stories. The LBTQ cause was invisible when Accept, the first gay rights Romanian NGO, was formed in the late 90s. Only since 2010-2012 a few young women and trans persons became involved in local activism.
Because the times didn’t change too much, very few older persons can risk to expose their fragile and often hidden lives in order to become activists or tell their stories. Therefore, the methodology and ethics of identifying and approaching persons who have so much to protect of themselves and of others is a topic in itself, and equally as important as their stories.
I intend to address specific patterns of oppression of LBTQ women: since in most parts of western and central Europe consensual relationships between women were not criminalized2, historically we ended up with more knowledge about the oppression of gay men. In a way, LBTQ women are the forgotten victims of other mechanisms of patriarchal punishment, from rape to imposed marriages, to child birth laws and domestic violence, or to psychiatric imprisonment. The interviews, which will form the basis of a documentary film, address these intermingling issues.
My approach is autobiographical; I am also a narrator of my own experiences and recollections.
From these perspectives, I would like to propose a performance, organized around the idea of aging. I will share fragments of testimonies from my research, as video projection, and then build up a narration and body action consisting of possible pasts of local women, historical facts, and my imagined futures. The duration of the performance: 1 hour.
Simona Dumitriu (born 1978) coordinated (2011-2015) Platforma project space in Bucharest. She taught (2009-2013) graduate and post-graduate courses of contemporary photography at the National University of the Arts Bucharest. She is now an independent curator and artist and writes for Romanian art magazines (Arta, IDEA).