As #FringeRecommendations roll out, we take a look at Harry Josephine Giles' #TransFringe Twitter thread and get a taste of what to expect from those involved
After being inspired by Jessica Brough's #FringeOfColour initiative, created to promote performers of colour at the Edinburgh Festivals, Harry Josephine Giles decided to create a similar network for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming folks. The Orkney-born and Edinburgh-based writer and performer is the co-director of Anatomy Arts and is bringing their show Drone to this year's Fringe. They also actively work to create spaces for other artists, organise workers' rights within the arts community and strengthen radical diversity. We chatted to them about their #TransFringe initiative to hear what inspired them to create it, why it's necessary and why we need a bit of rebellion right now.
What was the inspiration behind the #TransFringe hashtag?
I just saw that there were a bunch of great trans folk visiting my hometown in August and wanted to bring us together! The direct inspiration was also #FringeofColour, which has been doing radical work in supporting artists of colour at the Fringe, both through enabling artists of colour to find each other's work and organising access schemes – it's important to acknowledge that work and inspiration.
What kind of impact do you hope it has?
The most important thing about #TransFringe for me is making sure trans artists aren't alone and that we're seeing each other's work. It's not about being 'visible' or 'represented', but about mutual support and solidarity – trans folk doing stuff for trans folk. I'll also be trying to organise meet-ups and other ways of us being together. The Fringe can be a very isolating, exhausting and impoverishing experience. So I want #TransFringe to be a space of warmth, strength and companionship.
Why do you think this type of support group is especially necessary this year?
Right now we're facing vicious organised campaigns against trans life, across the UK and specifically in Scotland. There's a trans health crisis, in which it takes over two years to even get an appointment for treatment on the NHS and any alternatives are shut down. There's ongoing austerity, which makes trans lives even more economically precarious, even more subject to poverty, homelessness and abuse. And there are MSPs telling lies and whipping up hate about trans life, making just going out on the street risky. In the face of that, I want riotousness, difference, rebellion, non-conformity, rage and joy: trans art is trans life at its most vibrant and resistant.
#TransFringe shows we're excited about
Burgerz / credit: Holly Revell
Here's a selection of shows by non-binary and trans folk from #TransFringe. This list is by no means definitive and is just a sneak peek of what you can find on the thread itself.
Burgerz One of the most notable contemporary queer voices in the UK, Travis Alabanza explores trans bodies and the reclaiming of violent acts based off of their own experiences of transphobic abuse. Traverse Theatre, Thu 1–Sun 25 Aug (not 5, 12, 19), times vary.
Hearty Double Fringe First award-winner Emma Frankland politically scrutinises the current obsession with trans lives and interrogates the controversial biotechnology of HRT. Summerhall, Tue 13–Sat 24 Aug (not 19), 9.10pm.
Pink Lemonade Experimental theatre from Mika Johnson that delves into femxle masculinity, racial fetishism, sexuality and gender identity through poetry movement and original beats. Assembly Roxy, 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 Aug, 3.45pm.
Moot Moot Rosana Cade and Ivor Macaskill play 70s-style radio presenters and doppelgangers in a surreal phone-in talk show. An absurd take on modern communication with equal parts comedy and despair. Summerhall, Thu 8–Sun 25 Aug (not 12, 19), 1.30pm.
Pink Lemonade / credit: Bronwen Sharp
Drone A multimedia collaboration from Harry Josephine Giles and Neil Simpson that is mixed new every night and tells the story of a military drone's life and fears. Summerhall, Wed 31 Jul–Sat 17 Aug (not 1, 12), 7.10pm.
Since U Been Gone Teddy Lamb's autobiographical account of growing up queer in the mid-noughties, scored to a soundtrack of original pop bangers and featuring noughties cultural references aplenty. Assembly Roxy, 31 Jul, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 Aug, 3.45pm.
Len Blanco: Firing Blancs Recovering boy band member, drag king, and the woke boyfriend of your dreams talks about his life since the 90s with live vocals, lip-sync and live choreography. Just the Tonic at the Charteris Centre – Just the Crypt, Thu 1–Sat 24 Aug (12, 13), 9.20pm.
Sound Cistem A radical dance party hosted by two transgender performers who urge you to say 'up yours!' to the gender binary, conformity and shame through a disco setting. Zoo Playground, Sun 11–Mon 26 Aug, 9.20pm.
Harry Josephine Giles, Rob Jones, Neil Simpson and Jamie Wardrop A live jam of music, video and poetry, this multimedia theatre show tells the true story of a military drone's life and fears. The Drone is a weapons system, an office worker, a background hum. The bleak humour and tender fury of Drone sees the unmanned…
Part of Shout Festival programme (LGBTQ+) Burgerz is Alabanza’s new theatre show, and their first body of work of this kind. An exploration of the harassment Travis (and other trans bodies) experienced in public throughout 2016, Burgerz asks the question: what does the trans body do in order to survive and how does one…
Plaster Cast Theatre Two transgender performers say 'up yours!' to the gender binary and invite you to their radical dance party! Under disco lights, over pulsing music, a queer celebration takes place. Set in nightclubs, Sound Cistem is an exuberant verbatim show about the cisgender gaze on the transgender body.
An exciting double bill between HighTide and The Queer House sees Since U Been Gone by Teddy Lamb and Mika Johnson’s Pink Lemonade alternate performances every day. Lamb’s moving autobiographical account of growing up queer in the East Midlands, finding yourself, and losing a friend is brought to life in Since U Been Gone…
The Queer House and HighTide Token Toni loves a bitta bashment and only dates Black and Brown womxn, my barber holds the cure to lesbian urges and straight women are like junk food. 'Your anxiety must of got lost in the smoke, cos there's that chair behind me, I slump nervously, your hands are over me, quietly you tell…
Cade & MacAskill in association with Take Me Somewhere Doppelganger DJs Barry and Barry desperately seek connection with the world beyond… Two of Scotland's finest live artists, Rosana Cade (Walking:Holding, Sister) and Ivor MacAskill (STUD, Alma Mater), spew out their dark and riotous take on modern communication, as…
Emma Frankland 'We must bury our knowledge until the apocalypse passes'. Bearing wings made of sharp knives and shooting fireballs into the air, Hearty tackles the current fascination with trans lives and interrogates the controversial bio-technology of HRT. It's messy, it's on fire and it's politically charged. A double…
Len Blanco Len Blanco's the modern man of your dreams: Woke. Feminist. Vegan (Monday to Thursday). He just wants to talk to you. For God’s sake, let him talk to you. In his musical comedy cabaret, this recovering boy band member and drag king amongst men will be exclusively revealing just how far he’s come since the 90s…