Gender is a Trivial Subject

Life, incredibly, goes on.  Despite all the havoc surrounding us, we rise and eat breakfast and stumble through the day.  Those of us fortunate enough to be employed sit down to do our jobs.  Those of us in school sit down at whatever set-up has been jury-rigged for us and attempt to learn.  Those of us who write sit down at our laptops and write (or stare at our screens for hours in helpless procrastination – we are writers, after all).

This week, two of those things will be converging in my life.  I wrote a play called Trivial over the summer, specifically for performance over Zoom, and submitted it to a few companies.  A while ago, out of the blue, I received an email from students at Boston University.  One of those submissions had found its way to them somehow, and they asked me if they could put it up this fall as part of their annual One-Act festival, which, like many a festival these days, is being conducted and performed over Zoom.  I happily gave my blessing for them to debut the work; the performances are set for this coming weekend.

I can’t post a link to the performance, because the zoom meeting still has to be created; I’ll make an announcement here on this website as soon as I can.  The company’s website does list the cast list for my piece, however, and seeing the names of these young performers who’ll be creating these characters definitely had an effect on me.  Trivial features a thinly veiled version of my own trivia team, you see, in a story where a distraught young woman accidentally interrupts their Zoom trivia session.  In real-life, the core three members of our team are two men and one woman, so that’s how I depicted us in the play; combined with an off-stage Quizmaster who can be played by anybody, and I was happy to have managed some gender parity in the script.

Well, in scanning over the cast list, I saw that the Quizmaster is being portrayed, in this inaugural production, by a man.  All the other characters are being played by women.

That’s right – my fictional doppelganger is now a woman.

I’ve mentioned this to my trivia team, and they’re all delighted with this casting.  I’m more surprised than anything – I didn’t explicitly say that characters were male or female, so this is a perfectly valid casting option, even if I did give the “male” characters obviously gendered names like Malcolm and Stu.  (Maybe there are girls named Malcolm?  I don’t know.) This may be a perfectly valid choice for this company – I’ve never been to Boston and don’t know if it has an all-female trivia league or something.  Really, me being thrown for a loop by this has more to do with my removal from the process – this is the first time a piece of mine is being produced without any input or involvement from me, other than me initially giving my permission.  And ultimately, this is a one-act I put out into the world just to make something happen – it’s not a grand statement, and nothing that I thought that I’d need to be consulted about.

So the folks at Boston are free to do whatever makes sense to them.  Regardless, I’ll be in the virtual audience – I look forward to meeting the young female version of myself.

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