The Tomboy Survival Guide is billed as ‘part anthem, part campfire story and part instructions for the dismantling of the gender stories we tell ourselves and each other’.
Prominent LGBT activist Ivan Coyote brings a show to Dublin that challenges the conventions of society and reaches out to anyone feeling dissatisfied with the boxes they’re urged to tick. Bleedin Deadly caught up with the accomplished writer and storyteller.
BD: Can you please tell me a little bit about your background in performance?
IC: I have been telling stories on stage since 1992, and I just did the math and that is 25 years. Wow. I need to get myself a gold watch. I’m the author of eleven books, the creator of four short films, three albums that combine storytelling and music, and the writer/creator of over ten full-length live performances over the years that combine storytelling, music, sometimes dance, and sometimes projected visuals or animations. I’ve been a full-time touring performer for over 15 years. It’s in my bones now.
Describe in your own words what this show is about?
It’s about looking sort of like a man but not being one. It’s about little old ladies who like you already because you remind them of their dead husbands when they were young. It’s about women who broke out of their gender box when I was a kid and inspired me to bust out of mine. It’s about being made to wear a dress in kindergarten. It’s about learning to become comfortable in my body. It’s partly advice to a mother of a trans son. It’s about how to sew your own superhero cape and an homage to girls who can play the drums. Plus there is singing and a really hot band.
Where did the inspiration for the show come from?
I tour a lot: festivals, conferences, theatres, schools, universities, and at almost every show I meet a little kid that reminds me of me when I was their age: awkward, not fitting in, wearing clothes that are supposed to belong to the so-called opposite gender. I wrote this show for them. For the part of me that still is them, and for everyone else in the show, too. All of us have similar, mirrored experiences. We took all of that and tried to write something triumphant. Painful, too, but bigger than just that pain and loneliness. A survival guide.
Tomboy Survival Guide runs at the Abbey Theatre on the Peacock Stage from Sep 21 – 23, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival.