In another, less woke day and time, Miranda Rose Hall’s play Plot Points in Our Sexual Development would provoke outrage in certain circles for its frank descriptions of its characters’ life journeys of self-discovery.
Thankfully, that era is (mostly) gone, and the play, opening Friday at Studio Grand Central in St. Petersburg, can be appreciated and celebrated for its warmth, honesty and humor.
There are two characters in Plot Points: Theo, a male-identifying trans person, and a cis lesbian named Cecily. They spend the play’s 75 minutes going back-and-forth, telling stories about their sexuality, and the ways in which they got there. There’s a big reveal at the end.
“When it comes down to it, it’s about relationships, it’s about people and finding the truth,” Off-Central Players director Staci Sabarsky explained. “Baring your soul. Because that’s what both of these characters end up doing.”
No matter who you are, or how you identify, you’ve got a soul.
“I think the beautiful part of the show is that it’s not intending to be a lesson for straight people,” said Kayla Witoshynsky, who plays Cecily. “It’s a show for queer people, and for queer joy. But any time someone listens to a person who is marginalized, they can learn. And hopefully they will get a glimpse into one trans-identifying person’s life.
“That’s not to say you’re going to magically know how all trans or queer people feel, but you’ll at least have insight into how one individual does.”
Newt Rametta, who plays Theo, recognizes the universality of the tales told in Hall’s script. “We all had really, really awkward sexual experiences growing up,” he said. “We’re not so different.”
Still, both performers believe there are specific moments and recurring motifs that will resonate with the queer and trans communities. “It’s almost like a whole other language that queer people speak,” Rametta explained. “There’s a few lines about being gender queer, and literalizing how your body looks.
“You tell yourself ‘I’m not trans enough. I’m not what I should be. I’m not masculine enough, I’m not feminine enough. You tell yourself you’re not enough, but there is no rule for what a trans person is supposed to look like. Or feel like.
“So I think a lot of people can take the things that Theo is saying and relate to them.”
Newt, who spent years creating Tampa Bay theater as Nina Rametta, found much with which to identify in Plot Points. “When we first did the table read,” he said, “I started crying, at one monologue in particular. There’s a monologue where he talks about the first gender euphoria as a pubescent teenager, where he doesn’t have breasts and his cousin notices – ‘wow, you look like a boy.’ And what a good feeling that is.
“I’m going to tear up now, just thinking about it, because I have experienced that. I know what that feels like. A hundred percent.”
There’s another bittersweet note in the book of Plot Points in our Sexual Development – it will mark director Sabarsky’s Tampa Bay swan song, after more than six years of theater-making, mostly on the Tampa side of the bay.
Although she and her husband, Leon, are both from Dunedin, they lived in North Carolina for two decades before moving to Hillsborough County. Sabarsky founded the Tampa-based Innovocative Theatre, which produced edgy and thought-provoking dramas.
At the end of 2021, the bay area’s loss will be Raleigh-Durham’s gain.
“Last year, because of Covid, we really took stock of a lot of things.” Sabarsky explained. “Life is short.
“And North Carolina always felt like home to us. We had some heart-to-hearts and said ‘If we really want to move back there, what are we waiting for?’”
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