A couple of months ago I was out at Mj’s Monday night to watch the show. One of it’s headliners is of course the iconic actress/writer/producer and all around performer Ms Jazzmun. Jazzmun and I go way back honey. Well it seemed she was in the process of casting her latest play titled Lovely Bouquet of Flowers. And of course me being an actress was asked to audition. Long story short, I got the part of Velvet Rose 3.
The play is an exploration of non-traditional gender voices written and produced by Jazzmun and written and directed by writer/director David Gaddas. It is something that has never been done and it will not only entertain its audience but will also educate people of trans issues in todays society. Drama, comedy and of course dance with a transgender twist will make this the show to see this year! The play also stars some notable personalities in the trans community including Ms Maria Roman, amongst others. Recently before rehearsal I had a chance to chat with the two lovely people responsible for this revolutionary project for our trans community and the following is what they had to say.
Samara: How was it that you came up with the idea for this project?
Jazzmun: I had done 3 productions of the Vagina Monologues and was inspired. People of trans experience needed to be heard.
Samara: How was it that you guys got to collaborate on this project?
Jazzmun: David heard me do spoken word and he liked it. He asked me if I wanted to collaborate on a future project and I said yes.
David: I was at an event where Jazzmun was reciting one of her spoken-word poems and was struck by her passion, poise and raw imagery.
I mentioned that I was a director and writer, so we decided to have tea together, whereupon she shared her idea for the play with me and the rest is history.
Samara: So all women and men in the play are trans?
Jazzmun: At the moment, yes. All trans characters are played by trans men and trans women.
David: We have our one, brave, gay actor who we adore.
Samara: Tell us a little bit about the characters in the play?
Jazzmun: The characters depict aspects of the trans experience. We have trans men and trans women and it was important for me to include both.
We have explorations of sex work, relationships. transitioning, and more.
David: The characters in the play, with a few exceptions, are fictionalized versions of real interviews we did in the transgender community, enveloping as many themes and socioeconomic issues as possible. They experience an amalgamation of specific events and imagined instances all the while using their voice to educate us and inform the public on current transgender issues.
Samara: How was the casting process?
Jazzmun: The casting was an interesting process that continues to this day.
David: Haha. Difficult. There was actually one discrepancy where Jazzmun and I butted heads because I argued that the spirit of a transgender girl who had committed suicide could be played by a genetic woman since the spirit was female but in the end I saw the light and came to realize that role should be transgender as well. The true difficulty came in that while we understood the first choice was always for transgender actors, that we had to turn away so many extremely talented genetic female and male actors who wanted the roles while we gradually gained the trust of our current cast.
Samara: Tell us about the stage reading coming up?
Jazzmun: The stage reading will be held at the Davidson/Valentini Theatre in the LA Gay And Lesbian Center’s Village April 7th at 6pm and April 14th at 6pm. The theatre is located at 1125 N. MCadden Place Los Angeles, CA. It is a way for us to introduce the play to the community and garner support. We are looking to raise money for a fully staged production soon.
David: We’re incredibly excited for it. The staged reading is actually more of a performance without staging of select pieces from the play.
While we’ll be excluding performance art, choreography and everything else that goes with full production value, the actors will have been in intensive rehearsals for two months and are fully invested in this presentation. Our goal is to whet the appetites of our audience members while fanning the flame of the word on the street as well as in our social media.
Samara: And when will the play make its big debut?
Jazzmun: We are hoping to have the play debut during Pride month.
David: We’re looking at some wonderful larger venues for June during pride month.
Samara: And you guys have a link where people can make contributions?
Jazzmun: please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to contribute.
Samara: Any last words?
Jazzmun: During our first cast meeting, our Assistant Director Natasha read a lovely quote that I want to repeat: “The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” By Anais Nin
David: Come see the staged reading. You’ll laugh. You may cry. You’ll be educated in all things transgender. The important thing is that this is the first time a play like this is being done. This is real theatre with real voices, no illusion. Hope to see you there!
By: Samara Riviera