by Gabriella Soto
This article was first published in Tagg Magazine here.
Lisa Friday takes the stage in Trans Am with nothing more than her acoustic guitar and her story. Told through songs fresh from the vault of original music she’s written over the last 20 years, Friday invites viewers to join her on a rock and roll trip down memory lane. The live, one-woman musical depicts her own transgender experience, raw and real.
Friday’s decision to create and star in her own life story arose as a product of her own self-reflection in the wake of COVID-19. After the cancellation of Keegan Theatre’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, in which she was asked to play Hedwig, Friday took time to reflect on current events and injustices taking place. She believed that what was important to show at this time wasn’t flashy outward spectacles, but honest depictions of the realities people face in life. Thus, Trans Am was born.
Originally performed for a virtual audience, widespread success of her remote production prompted her to bring the show to life on stage. “The Keegan asked me to be part of their 25th anniversary season and we all decided we weren’t going to change a thing. We were just going to go with it exactly how it is,” Friday explains.
She describes her story as a means of understanding our common human desire for self-actualization. When discussing where this self-actualization comes from, Friday explains that “to go through a gender transition can be a very isolating experience. It takes so much self-examination and so much clarity about who you are to get through that.” Through this process, she realized that “everything in our world is informing us that there are binary laws to gender norms, that we have to fit in to certain categories and certain places. And as you transition, you’re going to have to walk through every single one of those places. To get through that and survive, that takes a level of self-actualization that a lot of people are never forced to go through.”
Friday shares that despite her happy childhood, there was no room for her to truly find this in the conservative environment she was raised in. She admits, “we may not realize our authentic selves are probably not welcome in.” Throughout her show, Friday details how her connection to music allowed her to find new places to express herself.
Through Trans Am, Friday hopes that audiences resonate with the realities of this human experience. “Being trans doesn’t make me something other, it actually makes me very human.” Her goal is that people get to see transitioning as a real-world human experience and adds for anyone struggling with their own personal journey, “We need love and support in our lives, we need to receive and give that in order to fully realize who we are.