‘Hayley & Me’ to explore trans topics

Kate O'Donelle in Hayley & Me

Although I’m not LGB or T I have many friends and members of my family who are part of the LGBT community. A couple of years ago my interest was piqued by an exhibition in Blackpool, entitled, “We’re Here…”, curated by Garth Gratrix. I was particularly moved by part of that exhibition, The Pansy Project,’ by Paul Harfleet. I suppose I’ve always felt empathy for any minority group which has to fight for equality. In the course of the following months I met and spoke to many LGBT people as part of a project and subsequent exhibition, ‘Inside Out’, that I produced with fellow photographer Dawn Mander.

Which is why I think this one night show will be particularly interesting. The show is to take a nostalgic look at Coronation Street’s Hayley Cropper and her impact and place in transgender history during Blackpool Pride Festival.

Written and performed by award-winning transgender performer, activist, theatre and cabaret maker, Kate O’Donnell, Hayley & Me explores the themes of visibility, expectations, LGBT progress, escapism and a lack of visible role models or a “rule book” for transgender people.

Previously appearing at the Vauxhall Tavern in London and as part of Queer Contact Festival in Manchester, the show explores the relationship between Hayley’s Coronation Street storylines and Kate’s own journey as a trans woman. Audiences are to expect Kate’s trademark wit and wisdom along with visuals, a little audience interaction and a lot of Spice Girls.

Performer Kate O’Donnell, said: “Seeing yourself represented in wider culture is so important, and something that trans people have had to go without until relevantly recent history. It’s important to celebrate and reflect on those little break throughs and cultural moments.

“Hayley was played by a cisgendered actress at the time, but I like to think that now a transgender actor would be cast to play the part, which I see as progress.

“There is still lots of work to be done as what little representation trans people do have in fictional narratives and the wider media is often very negative, but I believe we are getting there.”

Through my work with Trans Creative I strive to create authentic positive trans representations and stories, which offer an alternative perspective. I’m really delighted to be bringing Hayley & Me to Blackpool during Blackpool Pride Festival as it’s so important for trans work to be seen by diverse audiences. The post show discussion will give an opportunity for some lively conversation so I hope that lots of people come down to join us on the night.”

Following the show there will be a fun and interactive post show discussion led by advocate and campaigner Carolyn Mercer who is also Chairperson of Lancashire LGBT. Kate and Carolyn will be joined in conversation by Elliott Kerrigan, writer of the groundbreaking Boy Meets Girl, the BBC’s first comedy to feature transgender issues and star a transgender actor.

The show is presented by independent producers Mykey Young and Carrie Rooney in association with QuAD, a new collective of Blackpool based artists dedicated to showing and developing new queer work in the town.

Kate is the Artistic Director of Trans Creative, a pioneering new transgender led theatre company, increasing the visibility and positive representation of transgender people and stories through excellent art, advocacy and education. In 2016 Kate was named as the LGBT Foundation’s Role Model of the Year and is currently starring in Twelfth Night at the Royal Exchange Manchester and receiving rave reviews.

Blackpool Pride VIP wristband holders who book a ticket to the show will also receive a free glass of fizz on arrival. Hayley & Me is at Viva Blackpool on Friday June 9. Tickets are on sale now priced £5 and are available from www.vivablackpool.com or by calling the box office on 01253 297 297.

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