When asked in an August interview with London’s Telegraph if he would consider reimagining the familiar role of Mary Poppins as a trans woman, producer Cameron Mackintosh (Les Misérables; The Phantom of the Opera; Miss Saigon; Mary Poppins) expressed his concern about the idea of deviating from the playwright’s original intent for the character with the following response: “You can’t implant something that is not inherently there in the story or character, that’s what I think,” he said. “Just to do that, that becomes gimmick casting. It’s trying to force something that isn’t natural.”
The comment, specifically his use of the term “gimmick,” caused a backlash in the theater community, after which Mackintosh apologized for his answer causing distress and being “misinterpreted,” voiced his support of “diversity of casting,” and stated that “What matters is what has always mattered: the talent and storytelling.”
Spurred by the controversy, actress and activist Sis is calling attention to the erasure of trans bodies within the theater and entertainment industries by organizing a Trans March on Broadway on Monday, September 6, at noon, to call for respect and visibility in the performing arts.
“After the recent discriminatory statements of Cameron Mackintosh in regards to trans folk in musical theater, it makes me wonder, ‘When are we going to have an actual conversation led by us?’ I know he’s not the only one,” said Sis. “Join me Monday. It’s time to come together as a community and center trans bodies where they have been erased. With this march, my hope is to start the conversation so that we can better navigate gender identity within the entertainment industry. This is an announcement that we are here. You cannot erase us from the narrative that we are part of.”
In conjunction with the march, the concert You Gotta Have a Gimmick will showcase the talent that trans people bring to the table, reinforcing that gender identity is not a gimmick, but as with any performer, it is the act that is special.
The location and guest speakers for the Trans March on Broadway will be announced on the morning of September 6, on social media @ucancallmesis. Additional information about You Gotta Have a Gimmick will follow; the lineup is subject to change.