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Gender Euphoria, Episode 3: Building Black Queer Worlds Onstage and Behind the Scenes

With Azure D. Osborne-Lee

Nicolas Shannon Savard: Hello, and welcome to Gender Euphoria, the podcast, supported by HowlRound Theatre Commons. I’m your host, Nicolas Shannon Savard. For today’s episode, I’m chatting with playwright Azure D. Osborne-Lee about the way they build Black, queer worlds on stage and the roles of mentorship, community building, and production team curation that go into bringing those stories to life. We take a deep dive into Azure’s play, Crooked Parts, which—as I’m sure you’ll be able to tell from the recording—I absolutely love and highly recommend that you go read it as soon as you’re done listening to this. Anyway, onto the show.

Rebecca Kling: Gender euphoria is…

Dillon Yruegas: bliss.

Siri Gurudev: Freedom to experience—

Dillon: Yeah, bliss.

Siri: masculinity, femininity, and everything in between—

Azure D. Osborne-Lee: Getting to show up—

Siri: without any other thought than my own pleasure.

Azure: as my full self...

Rebecca: Gender euphoria is opening the door to your body and being home.

Dillon: Mmm. Unabashed bliss.

Joshua Bastian Cole: You can feel it. You can feel the relief and a sense of validation and actualization.

Azure: Feel safe.

Cole: And the sense of validation—

Azure: Celebrated

Cole: —or actualization.

Azure: Or sometimes it means

Rebecca: being confident in who you are.

Azure: But, also, to see yourself reflected back.

Rebecca: Or maybe not but being excited to find out.

Nicolas: Azure. D. Osborne-Lee, whose pronouns are he/him or they/them, is a multi-award-winning Black, queer, and a trans theatremaker from south of the Mason-Dixon line. He holds an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, as well as an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies, and a BA in English and Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin. Some of Azure’s accolades include still-standing artists-in-residence at Stonehenge NYC, Recipient of the Waterwell, New Works Lab’s 2021 commission, Kilroy’s List 2020 Playwright, recipient of Parity Productions 2018 Annual Commission, winner of Downtown Urban Arts Festival’s 2018 Best Play Award, and the 2015 Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest. Azure’s full-length play, Crooked Parts, which we’ll be discussing in this episode, was published in the Methuen Drama Book of Trans Plays, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

Hello, welcome back to Gender Euphoria, the podcast. I am here with Azure D. Osborne-Lee, playwright extraordinaire. To get started, could you tell us a little bit about the journey that you took to becoming a playwright and into playwriting? I know that’s not quite where you started.

Azure D. Osborne-Lee: Yeah, sure. I, like so many theatre enthusiasts and professionals, started as a performer at a young age. Isn’t that the way we indoctrinate folks?

Nicolas: Of course.

Azure: The pivotal moment for me was in middle school, seventh grade, not sixth because apparently our drama teacher was on maternity leave my sixth-grade year. So, seventh grade, she returned; they announced that drama club would be re-established. My first major production then was Treasure Island, and I played Squire Trelawney in a very genderqueer youth way. Also, the voice of every man who fell overboard.

Nicolas: That’s amazing.

Azure: I'd be backstage and then I’d yell, “Arrrgh!” I was very insistent that I could play male or female roles. In fact, there was a talent show where I think I sang “A Whole New World” and split myself down the middle, male and female. I actually tried to wear two different outfits at the same time. I did that at least twice in my life. I did that once in high school and the other students were asking me, “Did your parents see you today?” I said, “Yes, I’m learning how to drive. I drove with my dad to school.” Looking back, it’s like, that’s classic non-binary trans behavior. I continued performing and then I did Delta Dandy many years later. When I was 24, I did Delta Dandi by Sharon Bridgforth in Austin, Texas. This was in, I believe, 2009. It really changed my life. It was a great experience.

I decided then that I wanted to move from Texas to New York City. Once I arrived, I had an unpaid internship because that was the thing at the time. One of the perks was that automatic enrollment in their playwriting workshop. I had a brief identity crisis. I worried that people would know I was not really a playwright, but then I said, “It’s not about you, Azure. You’re being weird. Just say yes.” I joined and it turned out I had a knack for writing for the stage, and so I’ve been writing ever since.

Nicolas: Fantastic. Let’s talk a little bit about who populates the world of your plays and why these characters in particular.

Azure: I believe you’re referring to the fact that I have a penchant for writing Black, queer, and trans characters.

Nicolas: Yes, I am.

Azure: For me, those people exist, those are the people in my world. I, actually, just turned thirty-seven this past weekend.

Nicolas: Happy birthday.

Azure: Thank you. I had a birthday dinner, and it just so happened that it was a very nonbinary, queer artist time. There were seven of us; everybody was a nonbinary, queer artist in some way. It was great. It was lovely. But those are the people who populate my world, so it’s only right and good that those are the people who should populate my written worlds. Also, we exist. It’s not a novelty. We’ve always been here. That’s the long and short of it, I think.

Nicolas: Your full-length play, Crooked Parts, was recently published in the Methuen Drama Book of Trans Plays, and I want to talk a little bit about the play itself. It’s split between two different time periods. You’ve got 1995; you’re following thirteen-year-old Winifred with her mother, her father, and her brother. Then, you’ve got 2013. Now Freddy is returning home for the first time since beginning transition and encountering now his family for the first time. It reads, in some parts, like kind of your classic family drama, and yet it has this element with the giant hairball and T-shirt ball that follows Winfred around and lingers in the space. I want to talk a little bit about that because this T-shirt hairball presence seems to become like a fifth character in this play. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

There are a couple of directions I want to go. How does this sort of blend of more traditional realism with also these other non-naturalistic—I’ll go with—elements? Is that reflective of other work that you do? Then, I just want to talk about hair in this play in general because it’s such a big thing running throughout the story.

Azure: First of all, the sort of non-naturalistic element... well, fun fact, the hairball T-shirt creature used to be a silent white girl in the first iteration, but then I decided to change it. But there was always this question... There’s this friend whose referenced, Julie, so that’s who this apparition was. But, Julie never says anything, and so people would always ask me, “Well, is Julie real? What’s going on?” But then, when I was in the process of rewrites I decided that I wanted to switch that up. Puppetry has always been a big part of my artistic life. Labyrinth was a big formative creative force for me. Whenever we would go to the video store to rent a video, as we did back in the nineties, a VHS tape, if you will—

Nicolas: Back in the day.

Azure: If we couldn’t find anything we wanted to watch, we just checked out Labyrinth and watched it again. I have really seen it more times than I can possibly count. It’s a Jim Henson movie. There’s lots of puppetry in there. It’s musical; David Bowie is in there in a codpiece. One of the things that’s always been really exciting for me about performative work is the possibility of having these sort of surprises or non-naturalistic elements. I just have always found them really delicious. I love genre stuff, sci-fi and fantasy. At a certain point, I realized that I wanted to see that on stage and so I really started leaning into that. That was after Crooked Parts, but I feel like this is the first inkling. If you look at my catalog of work, that element of this weird puppet-y monster thing is the first step in the journey towards really exploring genre in theatre, so there’s that. I think that, also, there’s something really exciting about having elements that are up for interpretation, that are sort of dreamy.

I think a characteristic of my work is that I do leave space for the audience to think, figure things out, and have opinions. I’m a little bit notorious for this. In a talkback I’m like, “Well, you can ask questions, but I reserve the right not to answer your questions.” I think ultimately people don’t necessarily want me to give them all the answers and that’s not my place. It’s like, “Well, what do you think?” Also, sometimes—

Nicolas: I feel like a lot of the time people are asking to know, “Was my interpretation right?”

Azure: Yes, exactly. It’s like, “Well, what do you think?” I think that once a piece of writing is put out there, it doesn’t just belong to the author anymore. That’s why we have fanfiction. Particularly in genre, we understand that the viewers become the experts in their own way. I have learned a lot from audience members. They’ve seen things and taught me things about my own work. One thing I also jokingly say—because I think also, I’m a scholar and I’ve come from a relatively rigorous background. I’ve had some strict teachers—is, “If you have a question, that's a great opportunity for you to step outside, go to the box office, buy another ticket, and watch it again with that question in mind and see if you can answer it yourself.”

Nicolas: I kind of love that.

Azure: As a teacher and someone who’s been to graduate school a couple of times, that’s the way, right?

Nicolas: Mm-hmm.

Azure: I think that one of the greatest pieces of misinformation about graduate school, at least in my experience, is that people are going to teach you things, your teachers are going to teach you things. My experience of graduate school, at least the first time at University of Texas, was really like, “Oh no, at this point, we’re just going to give you the resources and you are going to look them up, then you’re going to teach us, teach the class. What is it that you learned?”

Nicolas: That’s also been my experience of graduate school. The teachers are going to ask you questions, they’re going to point you in the direction of resources, and then you are going to go on your own learning journey.

Azure: Exactly. I think that’s a great segue into the topic of hair because actually in my first master’s from the University of Texas, it’s in women’s and gender studies. My particular area of scholarship was Black women’s hair care in the twenty-first century.

Nicolas: Cool.

Azure: I was really interested in the effects of the internet on Black women’s hair care, styling, et cetera...keep in mind that this was in 2007, 2008, so it was a different time. But as I mentioned, I’ve been a theatre enthusiast, a theatremaker since a young age, so at the time I really wanted to create a verbatim play interviewing Black women about their hair experiences. But, I quickly realized that I did not have the resources to do that at the time, i.e. funding. It was on my wish list. A couple of years later, when I moved to New York City, Crooked Parts sort of became the fulfillment of that wish.

Nicolas: Let’s talk a little bit about how hair as an image, a metaphor, a form of intimacy, really, manifests throughout the play itself. We have one of the central conflicts in Winifred’s thirteen-year-old story is the decision that she makes that...because girls at school are making fun of her, she doesn’t want her mother to do her hair anymore on Sundays. They have this whole tradition of spending time together every Sunday doing Winifred’s hair, and it seems to hold so much meaning in their relationship. It’s definitely not this sense of like, “Oh, my daughter doesn’t want me to do this task for her anymore.” It seems like there’s a lot more there. Then, I interpreted it as pieces of her hair become enveloped into this T-shirt, hairball monster-thing that just keeps growing and growing as the tensions between her and her mom and her and her peers at school, who we also don’t see. But we hear her talk about the pressures from them, the things that she gets called and gets made fun of for her hair and for the way that she looks. The T-shirt monster just keeps collecting more and more things like magazine images, and just keeps growing, and she talks to it.

Azure: Yeah, she does. I think that there is so much there. This weekly tradition of the mother doing the daughter’s hair. It’s more than just a task; you’re correct. It’s an opportunity to bond. It’s a sharing of history and experience. I think that you get the sense that it’s a thing, like “My mother did my hair. I’m doing your hair.” There’s a big cultural element there, and so it’s a lot to navigate. I think that’s one of the big pressures that children have, particularly when they start to venture out into the world and experience cultures that are different than theirs. If their culture is different than the dominant culture, then they feel this pressure, this dilemma, “What do I do?” What sort of happens is that when Winifred makes this choice to change the ritual, discontinue the ritual, her mother experiences it as a rejection of herself, of closeness in a way.

I think that there’s a lot there, especially when we think about it in a trans sort of way, like “What do families do when you say, ‘No, thank you’ to the gift of your assigned gender?” That might include your name, that might include a number of things. The trans person might say, “Well, it’s not a complete rejection. I’m just taking the things that serve me and leaving the things that don’t serve me behind.” Or “I’m trying to find a way to survive.” But it’s a difficult thing to navigate, and I think that’s really the central theme of Crooked Parts. But also, I was really surprised when Crooked Parts went into workshopping initially in 2010, actually. I started receiving feedback from people who I wasn’t thinking about. For example, white women were like, “Oh my God, this is my story.” I’m like, “Oh, really? I thought I was writing for Black women and girls in particular.” But there’s this thing that they say, “The specific is universal.” I think that hair is this thing that, throughout time, people have used to express themselves.

There’s also sort of an unruliness to hair, hair trends. Not every texture can do everything. This sort of experience of struggle, struggling with self-image, trying to fit in…also, it’s just trying to figure out like, “What is this body?” which is I think a very adolescent theme. It’s pretty universal.

Nicolas: You get to have this moment where Freddy from 2013 gets to speak to Winfred from 1995. They also talk about hair. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re doing with the conversation between those two if essentially Freddy’s talking to his younger self?

Azure: Yes. It’s sort of this magical moment, but I think back to who I thought I was in elementary school, what my life goals were, et cetera. There’s some things that remain, like this was true about myself then, and it’s true about myself now. I think that sometimes people dismiss the expertise of young people, of children, and knowing themselves. I think there’s, at least with... If it hasn’t been spoiled yet, I think there’s an authenticity in the expression of desire or selfhood in children that gets written off a lot of times. For example, at age twelve, drama club happened. I’m having my first acting experiences. I knew then, I was like, “Theatre is the thing. This is the thing for me.” Before that I thought maybe I wanted to be a marine biologist, which is apparently really common. I think that there was like a thing with whales and dolphins in the nineties that...

Nicolas: Whales in the nineties were really trendy. I was going to say really big, but then...that felt too punny.

Azure: You know I love a good pun. But also, dolphins... There was this whole Lisa Frank thing where dolphins were really... I thought, Yeah, I’ll be a marine biologist. But then when I started doing theatre, I was like, “Oh no, I’m going to be an actor. I’m going to be making theatre.” I think my parents, to a certain extent, were like, “Uh, really?” Sort of waiting for that impulse to pass. It never did. It never has. There’s that. But I think that in looking back at our young ambitions, there’s a sort of way to understand like “This is who I’ve always been,” and then there’s also a “Look how far I’ve come” aspect. It’s this meeting between the past and the present. There’s this question—sometimes it floats around social media: if your child self can meet you now, what would they think? It’s kind of that question. I think personally, if my child self could meet me now, my head would explode because I think there’s a lot of layers of knowledge that we’re not privy to.

It’s like the good old coming of age and stepping into your magical powers theme that happens, age 13 or 18 or 21. You become a witch. You become a werewolf. You become a whatever. I think of that sometimes as sort of like a nontraditional take on transition. We don’t all know for sure from childhood that we’re meant to transition. I think sometimes you become aware of it when you’re ready.

Nicolas: Which is kind of what we see from Freddy who transitions in his thirties and then is returning home, which struck me in a few ways because that’s not something that we get to see in trans stories in pop culture a lot of the time. We see transitioning at home, then leaving, and never coming back. We see families just outright rejecting more of the time than welcoming with open arms, totally accepting. We see Freddy in a pretty interesting dynamic with each of his family members. Can you talk through a little bit about what you’re exploring in his return home?

Azure: Sure. I think, again, it’s the exploration of the family dynamics that have been there for a while and then seeing what it looks like when you introduce a new element. I think it’s important to acknowledge and explore this phenomenon of... Not necessarily, it’s not outright rejection. The person still has a place in the family—the trans person. But nothing changes, and also everything changes. And so how do we navigate that? How does each person respond to that? Generally speaking, I think that each person has a different response. It’s funny how an update in the operating system, shifting gender, can change each relationship. Then, what does that look like as a whole as well? I was thinking also about people who are assigned female at birth. What does that mean when there’s a shift? Maybe you were the peacemaker; maybe you were the caretaker, you know. What was your role? Then, what does that look like when you transition?

I really try to look at each relationship and see how it’s affected, but also look at the ways in which every person is flawed. Our protagonist is not perfect. I think the return home is also just looking at... As your puzzle piece changes shape, do you still fit in the hole? Do you have to spray it with water and hammer it a little bit to fit in? That’s one of the things I was really interested in exploring.

Nicolas: To shift gears just a little bit, in building these specifically Black, queer, trans worlds on stage, I’m wondering how do you go about putting together the production teams and casts surrounding these worlds that you’re building on stage to reflect the world that you’re writing onto the stage? How do you go about building that community around the play?

Azure: Sure. I am a person who is active in my community. I’m active in my queer and trans community here in New York City. Also, the Black community. I think that casting roles in a way that—I want to say authentically, but also just...I write Black characters. I write queer characters. I write trans characters, and so we hire Black and queer and trans people. We gather together. But also, it’s important for me to make sure that the room is as safe as it can be. If we’re hiring cis or straight folks, I have to make sure that they’re, if not down, okay. They’re okay with being in the space with trans themes. One of the things is that...thinking about gender and trans-ness, or examining your role in society, it’s a little contagious. If you’re out there living your best life or you’re out there questioning, you start to plant the seed of questions in other people’s mind. I’ve been unruly with it.

I’m the kind of person who will ask people if they’re straight, and I’ve had straight people respond to me, “Well, no one’s ever asked me that before.” I’m like, “Well, are you? What’s going on?” I have people in my life who initially said, “Yes,” and then later said, “Well…” I’m like, “Aha! I knew it.” But yeah, making sure that it’s safe for us to explore those themes, safe for trans people and queer people to be in the room. That is a form of curation that is really important, and I think also allows for then those people, cis people, straight people, et cetera, to have space to be themselves fully, whatever that means. There’s a freedom to explore that that comes with that space. We have a good time. I invite people to show up fully, and that means that we’re human beings in bodies. To acknowledge what’s happening, especially as there’s always a lot happening in the world, but particularly today.

I make space for people to show up and we do check-ins, which we love to do in the queer community. “How’s it going? What’s going on?” Just have a moment to acknowledge whatever experience people are having so that they can then enter the work and we kind of reverse it, too. So, yeah. That’s that. I’m really fortunate to have a lot of collaborators, people who I’ve worked with repeatedly. I’d like to think that’s because I’m invested in the artistry but also humanity of my collaborators. I don’t work for free, and I make sure that my collaborators do not either. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m able to pay market rate, but we get the best pay that we can. I like to be transparent about those things. I ask questions like, “What form of payment are they getting? When can they expect it?” so that they don’t have to do that. I try to provide as much information as possible. We try to have snacks and things like that and have a good time.

It’s really strange for me to step into spaces where there’s some sort of antagonism. Or it’s just like people are in the space to do the job, but they don’t like each other. Or they’re intolerable—

Nicolas: Or this idea that you just leave everything at the rehearsal room door. Somehow.

Azure: To a certain extent that’s not realistic or humane. We’re in our bodies having the experience of our lives at all times. Now I think there’s a certain professionalism where it’s like, “Okay, we came to do a job and we will do that job.” But I think that it’s easier for people to access that when they know that people care about them—

Nicolas: Absolutely.

Azure: —as human beings.

Nicolas: You talked quite a bit about the role of community building within your rehearsal rooms and around your productions. Can you talk a little bit about the role of mentorship in your work?

Azure: Sure. Mentorship is really important to me. I think that I got that from my arts elders. I have the good fortune of being taken in by artists like Sharon Bridgforth and getting along with Daniel Alexander Jones, Omi Osun Olomo Jones, and having these professional experiences but also learning a lot from these artists who were better established, who had this sort of experience. Also, I was an early graduate of college. I only spent three years in undergrad. I graduated in 2005; I was twenty at the time and the first of my friend group to graduate from college. I quickly discovered that I had no idea what I was doing because for those of us who grew up in the eighties and the nineties, there was a big push for people to go to college. The mythology was that you go to college; you get your degree. You’ll be able to get a job easy-peasy, and your life will be on track.

Nicolas: Then, you’ll be in that job for the rest of your life.

Azure: Exactly. You’ll be able to get the things that we considered to be markers of adulthood. I graduated in 2005 and the economy was in the toilet. There weren’t jobs. I was just like, “What is happening? What am I doing?” I realized that this was the first time I was in unplanned territory in my life, and also that it was my responsibility to find my own happiness. After that, I took a gap year because I didn’t know what I was doing. I did different things, including working as a traveling actor, I worked box office in a comedy club. Then, I went back to school; I went to graduate school to get my first master’s degree. But, I watched classes of college graduates come out and sort of flail around.

After some years had passed, I decided that I wanted to mentor Black, queer, and trans artists to just give them a little bit of assistance when they graduated so that they could continue to create art. Because that’s often the first thing that goes out the window when people are having to support themselves and how to live under capitalism…is that the art making gets put to the side.

Nicolas: Capitalism does not make time for art.

Azure: No. That’s something that I focused on for a couple of years, and it’s still a part of my work making. Mentorship is really important. I think it’s important to pass down the information that we gain, and also to just say, “Hey, you’re not out here by yourself. There are others of us out here. We might not be swimming easily, but we’re doing something. We’re treading water. We got our floaties on or something.”

Nicolas: This is where the folks like us are in this…performance world and this artmaking world when you’re not seeing yourself reflected in the mainstream. That’s so important.

Azure: Yes. I think that it’s important just to give folks an opportunity. Oftentimes, as a young artist, whatever that means. Not necessarily chronologically, but you’ll look at art making and think, “Yeah, that’s me. I want to be doing that.” But you can’t find your place. Like, “How do I get in here? It’s just a wall with no doors.” Right? “Other people are doing it. How do I do it?” I was fortunate enough to be given opportunities, and so I try to create those opportunities as well. If there’s room for me to take on somebody who maybe has a little bit less experience than other people, I try to do that. Because I think it’s important to take risks in art. Calculated risks. I try not to set people up to fail. But also to give people an opportunity to access it, access this thing we call art.

Nicolas: Fantastic. Before I let you go, I’ve got a couple of wrap-up questions. One of the major theses of this series is trans people are everywhere, and we have always been here. I’m wondering, would you like to shout out someone who is part of your queer, trans artistic family tree? Someone who’s inspired you, supported your work, or shown you ways forward?

Azure: Yes. I think I already have been doing that. Again, Sharon Bridgforth, Daniel Alexander Jones, Omi Osun Olomo, these are people who work in the jazz aesthetic of theatre. I don’t know that my work is specifically in the jazz aesthetic, but really...I went to college at University of Texas. I was not a theatre major, but I was making theatre and just sort of being young and wild. And they saw me making some work and said, “Hey, you’ve got something here. Come join up.” I got to know their work. Sharon Bridgforth was working in Austin at the time; so was Daniel Alexander Jones. At first, I didn’t know who they were, but the Black queer worlds that they were creating on stage really resonated with me. I was like, “Yeah, this makes sense.”

Sharon has this thing that she does where she conducts the work. As audience members are walking in, she’ll give them little things to read. I think that was one of my first experiences. I read something on a slip of paper that she handed me when I was walking in the door. I think she heard a certain authenticity in my voice and invited me to come back to read more. Every time she saw me after that, she’d give me more and more to do. Daniel and I had coffee at a certain point, and he said that when he saw me making work, he saw that star on my forehead, which I think refers to that queerness and trans-ness, the “Yes, this person is... I see what’s going on here.” He invited me to join up and have these opportunities.

Those opportunities were really formative for me as an artist. So important. I think some of the first times I felt that I was accepted fully as who I was and expected to put in the work and push forward. It didn’t really matter what I looked like, but that I was there to make the work, and that stuck with me over the years. I always have to give them a shout out.

Nicolas: Quick note here: some of these names are going to come back again later in the series. Sharon Bridgforth, Daniel Alexander Jones, and Omi Osun Olomo have been some of the really key players in making contemporary trans theatre history, particularly for trans theatremakers of color, specifically because of the way that they approach mentorship and bringing people into their spaces and projects and building lasting relationships. You can check out the show notes for links to find out more information on each of them, their work within the jazz aesthetic, and their work on the Austin Project. Okay, back to Azure to wrap up our conversation.

Finally, can you leave us with an image of one way that you experience gender euphoria in performance, in writing, or in everyday life?

Azure: What does gender euphoria look like for me these days? I’ll call it back to this birthday dinner I had on Saturday. I curated it; it was relatively small for me because we’re still in the pandemic. I’m also supposed to be very careful because I’m in a performance, and so we’re testing every couple of days. But we’re expected to not do anything wild and risky when it comes to COVID-19. But, just to have this dinner where my friends of varying years and experiences were showing up. I texted people and said,
“By the way, it’s going to be a non-binary time.” One of my friends let me know that, “What a relief! I didn’t have to think about performing gender in any particular way. I could just show up how I wanted to show up.” Somebody who’s relatively newly out, I specifically emphasized like, “Hey, if you want to play with aesthetic, this is a great place to do it.” That was just great to have everybody... Everybody’s thinking about pronouns; everybody was really excited.

I wanted to have a go-around with names and pronouns, and we didn’t even get to do that because people showed up. And we just immediately started talking, complimenting one another. “Have I met you before? I think I’ve seen you somewhere.” And just breaking into these little conversation groups and then tuning back in and saying, “Wait, what are they saying over there?” It’s just so great. I think that it’s amazing when we get to fellowship with one another as gender transgressives and just have a good time and be fully ourselves. Getting to come together with other trans, nonbinary, genderqueer, whatever we’re calling it these days, since the terminology is always being updated. People—

Nicolas: Will change again by the time the podcast airs.

Azure: Absolutely. We’re going to have to throw some asterisks and various punctuation in there. No, that’s what gender euphoria is to me is just everybody showing up in their whatever it is. Your new lipstick or like, “Oh, love those shoes!” Or “Those earrings are great.”

Nicolas: Love that. Thank you so much for coming on and talking to us.

Azure: Well, thank you.

Nicolas: Thank you for joining us for this discussion with Azure D. Osborne-Lee. You can read their play, Crooked Parts, in the Methuen Drama Book of Trans Plays. Tune in next week, I’ll be talking with actor, advocate Maybe Burke about their role at the Transgender Training Institute. Until then, this has been Gender Euphoria, the podcast.

Gender Euphoria, the podcast is hosted and edited by me, Nicolas Shannon Savard. The voices you heard in the opening poem were Rebecca Kling, Dillon Yruegas, Siri Gurudev, Azure D. Osborne-Lee, and Joshua Bastian Cole. Gender Euphoria, the podcast, is sponsored by HowlRound Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide.

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Thoughts from the curator

Hosted by Nicolas Savard, the Gender Euphoria podcast aims to amplify the voices of trans and gender nonconforming theater artists in the United States and creates an opportunity for trans artists to be in conversation with one another about their experiences working in a field that has a tendency to tokenize them. Each of these conversations will offer a space to share and explore the kinds of cultural work that trans/queer art is doing in the world from an intersectional perspective.

Gender Euphoria


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