Senior Distinguished Artist-in-Residence P. Carl’s 2020 memoir, Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition, is now a play, and Emerson community members are invited to see it free of charge at one of two shows in its upcoming world premiere at the American Repertory Theater (ART) in Cambridge.
Thanks to a generous donor, Emerson students, faculty, staff, alums, and their guests can reserve free tickets to either the Friday, February 23, 7:30 pm show, or the Sunday, February 25, 2:00 pm matinee. Deadline to reserve tickets is Friday, February 9.
Carl wrote the stage adaptation of the memoir, which chronicles his transition to a man after living for 50 years as a girl and a queer woman, and, with ART Artistic Director Diane Paulus, co-directs the show, which runs from February 16-March 10.
In an interview last year with Emerson Today, Carl said that as someone who has spent his professional life in the theatre, he knew immediately that he wanted to turn his memoir into a play. When he sent an advance copy to Paulus, with whom he worked closely on Claudia Rankine’s play, The White Card, Paulus asked to commission it.
“We read it around [Paulus’] kitchen table with cast members from the production Jagged Little Pill, and there was a consensus that we wanted to produce it,” Carl said. “Then COVID arrived two weeks later and three years passed.”
The role of Carl will be played by Petey Gibson, a Los Angeles-based transmasculine actor (who bears a striking resemblance to Carl). He is one of multiple trans and queer theatre makers working on the show.
“Because it’s a story that really hasn’t been told in the theatre, all of us knew it was important that trans and nonbinary people play a large role in the production,” Carl told Emerson Today last year. “It felt essential to have a trans perspective in thinking about how actors think, feel, and move.”
While the life of a trans person is inherently political in this time and place, Carl said the play “tells a human story about relationships.”
“What happens when people change, when a marriage is upended by something no one could prepare for. It’s a play about living, and trans people deserve to live life in all of its complexities,” he said.
In addition to being a playwright and memoirist, Carl, currently on leave from Emerson, is a dramaturg and theatre scholar. He is a former co-artistic director of ArtsEmerson and founder of the HowlRound Theatre Commons, both under Emerson’s Office of the Arts. He was the Spring 2020 Anschutz Fellow at Princeton University; the recipient of a 2017 Art of Change Fellowship from the Ford Foundation; the Berlin Prize fellowship from the American Academy in Fall 2018, and the Andrew W. Mellon Creative Research Residency at the University of Washington.