‘The Pink Unicorn’: A teen seeks acceptance
BOSTON — Everywhere you look, transgender people are finding their voices and standing up for their rights, including the right to serve their country in the military as well as seeking protection from discrimination in such areas as housing, hiring and healthcare.
Gender fluidity and gender identity mean a person may not “check any box” when it comes to fitting in under the old LGBTQ umbrella, which has expanded to become LGBTQIA– Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual and/or Ally.
For anyone – especially teenagers – affirming who they are is a life-changing experience.
For those who love them, it is also a life-changing experience and a journey they take with their loved one.
SpeakEasy Stage Company is presenting a streamed performance of Elise Forier Edie’s play “The Pink Unicorn” through March 18.
In telling the story of a genderqueer teen, playwright Edie has taken an approach that perhaps you might not have seen coming – Mother Trisha Lee (the talented Stacy Fischer) is a devout Christian and a widow living with her daughter Jolene in the small Texas town of Sparkton, where “everybody goes to church on Sunday.”
She is still struggling to find her footing when Jolene announces their genderqueer identity (Jo uses the gender neutral pronoun ‘they’). Jo, now dressing all in black, has cut almost all of their hair off, and has a tarantula named “Beetlejuice.”
Trisha Lee is feeling overwhelmed in trying to understand and accept Jo for who they are, as she realizes that her dreams for her child – the prom, marriage, perhaps grandchildren – have been changed, and it is up to her to change with them and accept the person her child has become.
To save her relationship with her child, she must make the journey from understanding to tolerance and acceptance.
When Jo and a friend attempt to establish a Gay Straight Alliance at Sparkton High, Trisha Lee finds her values being questioned by fellow church-goers, friends, neighbors, even her own mother and the head of her church, Pastor Dick.
And when the school principal shoots down Jo’s plans, the press gets involved and the local ACLU takes legal action, making both Trisha Lee and Jo household names – but not always in a good way, with the backlash including death threats.
The warmth of a loving mother emanates from Fischer’s Trisha Lee, but so does the angst and conflict of trying to reconcile the new Jo with what she has always been taught and believed in.
Director M. Bevin O’Gara has provided thoughtful guidance and has worked with Fischer on the pacing of the piece, since pacing can be a problem with an online piece that is largely static.
By framing the story the way she has, playwright Elise Forier Edie has also stated emphatically that being tolerant and accepting doesn’t mean you can’t also be a person of faith, and that if you asked the question — “What would Jesus do? – Trisha would have come up with the exact same answer.
The SpeakEasy production also puts faces on the issue at hand. At the play’s conclusion, there is a panel discussion of nonbinary and trans individuals led by Taj M. Smith called “Learning The Impact of the Language,” with participants telling their stories and commenting on the play.
The SpeakEasy Stage Company production of Elise Forier Edie’s “The Pink Unicorn.” Directed by M. Bevin O’Gara. Associate direction by Shira Helena Gitlin. Streaming through March 18. Tickets are $30 but discounts are available. For more information, go to speakeasystage.com.