I am going to cut straight to the point before I explain why and say outright that Fulbright Scholar Miřenka Čechová’s S/He is Nancy Joe is an invaluable and spectacular piece of performance art that should be seen by everyone during this weekend’s run at The Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint. S/He is Nancy Joe is an in-your-face, real look at the issue of transgender identity and equality through art – not just in America, but in Europe too – as this show hails from the Czech Republic.
According to the show’s description, it’s “a movement and visual performance piece that combines hip-hop, pop, physical mime, contemporary dance and classical ballet with interactive comic book visuals, lighting, sound and spoken narrative,” and not only lives up to, but surpasses its outlined expectations.
Čechová’s movements fit perfectly with Technical Artist and Lighting Designer Martin Špetlík and Sound Designer Matouš Hekela’s multimedia video. The set and costumes by Meghan Raham made the performer and set ‘one and the same.’
Čechová was silent as she conveyed her pain and anguish as a struggling transgender through dance and facial expression. Raham’s set was made up of white screens – and Čechová’s costume was white too – where lights and video were synchronized to her movements along with music. In the beginning, it seemed as if there wouldn’t be a clear plot line, but the journey of the character grew obvious as the show went on, and it was easily accessible to any audience member open to learning more about the presented topic.
There were several moments that moved me the most. The first was the opening that represented a child growing up awkward and alone in a world full of labels. Čechová had a way of portraying that pain through mime that put my emotions on a roller coaster ride. The next was when the character hit rock bottom mid-show when the solution of gender reassignment surgery was described as ‘self-mutilation’ and part of a deeper ‘psychological problem.’
However, the moment I loved the most was when the character grew to love the skin he or she was in near the end of the piece – and celebrating with a dance filled with sweeping movements and surrounded by vibrant colors on the video screen and bright lights.
S/He is Nancy Joe is an experience that made me realize how little transgender issues are spotlighted in today’s society, and hopefully this high quality collaboration will bring this seldom discussed and misunderstood topic to the forefront when playing to many audiences around the world.
Open your mind and see into the mind of a beautiful transgendered character presented by the artistic genius of Miřenka Čechová.
Running Time: One hour without an intermission.
S/He is Nancy Joe plays on November 8th, 10th and 11th in the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint – 916 G Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.
Miřenka Čechová’s website.