Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.”
Weathervane’s “A Kid Like Jake” is the story of a mother and father trying to come to terms with the fact that their son is “different.” He’s highly intelligent – ridiculously so – but he likes to play dress up and watch Disney movies, with a fondness for “Cinderella.” Judy (played by the effervescent Dede Klein), who runs the preschool that Jake attends, clearly knows that he’s different and does her best to nudge his parents in the right direction of where to send him to continue with his education.
His father, Greg (played by me), has no problem listening to what Judy is telling him and is OK with letting Jake dress up as whomever he wants. He even encourages taking Jake to see a therapist in order to make sure that his child has all of the care that he needs. His mother, Alex (Cristy Wright, in her finest role to date), posits that there’s nothing wrong with him going to an all-boys school and that he doesn’t need to be in therapy because he’s just going through “a phase.” Many arguments and a few “come to Jesus” moments ensue, with Mom and Dad both doing their best to do what is right for their child.
In coming in to this play, I knew that the stakes were high – especially in these uncertain political times. With HB2 in North Carolina (the Bathroom Bill) causing a huge stir around the country and 27 transgender people murdered in the U.S. in 2016 (making it the deadliest year on record), how do you tell a story of a child who might be transgender? This isn’t about stage tricks or big musical numbers; this is about people. People who are trying to raise a child. People who want what’s best for him. This is a Herculean task that we, the cast and crew, of “A Kid Like Jake” have decided to take on.
When cast in this role, I knew immediately that it wasn’t something I could take lightly or phone in; I had to make Greg real. With so many people out there who don’t understand transsexuality, I needed to make this father relatable to an audience who might have no idea what any of this means. In doing so, I stripped him down to one basic thing above all: he’s a father who only wants his son to be happy. Whatever he can do to make that happen, he will do it – even if it means going behind his wife’s back.
I myself am not a father, so what the hell do I know about raising children? Nothing. So, how do I approach this guy? By making him a person. It’s all there on the page: how he feels about his son and what he thinks about his son’s possible transsexuality. It’s as simple as playing that, as simple as making him real.
As for the issues that come up during the play that “point” to Jake’s possible transsexuality – the dressing up, the watching of Disney movies – aren’t they something that we’ve all done or experienced? Sure, my child likes to play dress up – “he’s no Johnny Basketball” is something I say at the beginning – but didn’t we all when we were kids? Don’t a lot of us do the same thing now? (Hello, Halloween!)
I mean, let’s face it – that’s my job: I get up on stage, play another person and wear someone else’s clothes to create a character. All right, so if kids always play dress-up and a lot of adults do it for a living, how can that be used against my child to claim that he’s trans? Wait! He watches a lot of Disney (with a penchant for Cinderella) movies! Well, considering that “Finding Dory” (a Disney film) was the No. 1 movie of 2016, it seems that any number of kids – and a lot of adults, as well – take pleasure in Disney films.
Does that mean that everyone is a transsexual? Of course not. People have varying interests and that’s OK. How boring would it be if we were all the same?
Am I arguing that this is “just a phase” that Jake is going through? No. What is my argument, then? My argument is that Jake could grow up to be anything or anyone. And, as a parent, my job is to love my child unconditionally. That’s the rule. But, in the end, does any of it matter? Aren’t we all just kids like Jake?
“A Kid Like Jake” appears
- Thursdays — Jan. 12 and 19 — at 7:30 p.m.
- Fridays — Jan. 13 and 20 — at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturdays — Jan. 14 and 21 — at 7:30 p.m.
- Sundays — Jan. 15 and 22 — at 2:30 p.m.
This production is sponsored in part by the Gay Community Endowment Fund, in partnership with GLSEN. Tickets range between $10 and $22. Visit www.weathervaneplayhouse.com or call (330) 836-2626 to purchase tickets.
This post sponsored by SummitLive365.com: