Tomboy Survival Guide – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review
Dates Sep 21 – 23 @ 21:00
Tickets €18/ €16 conc. Duration 90 mins
Venue: Abbey Theatre on the Peacock Stage
Ivan Coyote and an “all-tomboy” band are in Ireland for three nights only. Ivan has had quite an interesting life. As a member of the transgender community, Ivan was born as a woman but has long since left behind the binary state of gender definition. Ivan is a Canadian spoken word performer, writer, and LGBT advocate. The performance takes the form of a concert with four band members on stage for the duration. The band play guitar, bass, drums and occasionally trumpet. Ivan is the lead singer of the band, standing centre stage. They are all impressive musicians and are quite adept at their chosen instruments. Surprisingly really, as ‘girls can’t play the drums’!
The lyrics to the songs are mostly spoken word accounts of Ivan dealing with transgender issues. There are some stories of Ivan’s early years in school. There is talk of Ivan’s dislike of wearing dresses, even from the earliest age. Ivan only ever wanted to wear trousers and other clothes normally associated with men, and Ivan’s mother struggled with this before eventually giving up the battle! There are stories of Ivan being mistaken for a man in public. One wonderful story is of a young girl who says that Ivan is not a lady but has lovely eyes! Another tale is of an old woman who thinks Ivan looks almost identical to her husband, now long since dead! There are letters from members of the trans community sent to Ivan and also the replies. There are some touching letters from parents of members of the trans community. There is also the reoccurring theme of bathrooms and their narrow definition of gender. The world can not be described as either/ or!
There is much discussion on what exactly a Tomboy is. It is a nicely complicated concept and Ivan draws many insights out of the idea. It is definitely somewhere between both male and female, with traditional characteristics of both. The final piece of the night was a four-part harmony between the band members, with the lyrics taken from a Facebook post, which gave a list of all the things that a Tomboy would wish for. The one reoccurring word was ‘muscles’! It was a night that gave an insight into the issues of the transgender community and delivered them with a great deal of humour!