“AS ONE” – an exploration of gender identity through the arts

“AS ONE” – an exploration of gender identity through the arts


Saturday, April 15, 2017

12:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Free event, open to the public.


(Registration/reservations are required)

Winifred Smith Hall (UCI Arts Plaza):
12:00 p.m.          Performance of the libretto “As One”
12:45 p.m.          Panel Discussion

Beall Center for Art and Technology (UCI Arts Plaza):
1:30 p.m.             Reception and tour of art exhibit “Masculine ←→Feminine”

Event produced and directed by Robin Buck, Professor of Drama in the Department of Drama

"As One" is an opera about identity, authenticity and compassion. Like every other boy. Unlike every other boy. Two voices—Hannah before and Hannah after—share the part of a sole transgender protagonist.  The opera is based and inspired in part by the life experiences of acclaimed filmmaker Kimberly Reed. The story traces with empathy and humor Hannah’s experiences from her youth in a small town to her college years on the West Coast, and finally to the acceptance of herself. *

A reading of the opera’s libretto by UCI actors Kayla Kearney and Connor Marsh will take place in Winifred Smith, followed by a panel discussion and audience talk-back, and then a visit to the Beall Center for Art and Technology’s current exhibit “Masculine ←→Feminine” with a reception in the Center. 

The panel includes:
Kimberly Reed (filmmaker, co-librettist)
David Schweizer (director, “As One” at Long Beach Opera)
David Familian (curator of “Masculine ←→Feminine”)
Dr. Theodore Burnes, Director of Research at the UCI Counseling Center (specializes in areas related to LGBTQ students)

The performance and the exhibit will provide our students and the UCI community an excellent means to explore gender identity through art. The panel discussion and talkback will offer insight into the creative process/development of both the opera and the exhibit, as well as issues concerning gender issues.

Long Beach Opera will produce the opera “As One” in May 2017: http://www.longbeachopera.org/303

What does transgender mean? How is sexual orientation different from gender identity? What name and pronoun do I use? How do I treat a transgender person with respect? Why is transgender equality important?

"Trans" as an artistic theme, then, has the benefit of casting light on social boundaries—the limits of humanness—that are usually invisible, at least to those privileged enough not to be constantly running up against them. One of art's jobs is to explore and push beyond these sorts of boundaries, so it's no surprise that so many artists have found "trans" to be a useful tool. *

Composer Laura Kaminsky:

"The opera hits the core issues every human being has to confront: Who am I? How do I become myself? What struggles I have to go through? How do I have honesty? How can me changing effect the people and the world around me? - Its specific about Hannah, but also a human story everyone can relate to. That's the beauty of the libretto, Hannah is breaking down a lot of barriers."

Co-librettist Kimberly Reed:

"It's not unusual for me to be the first transgender person someone has known. I'm happy to be in that position, because the best way to dispel misunderstanding and increase empathy for The Other is to simply get to know someone. That's how we've made progress in the LGB communities, and now it's time for the T. This is something I aimed to accomplish with my film Prodigal Sons.”

Kimberly Reed, co-librettist, filmmaker: kimberlyreed.com

Kimberly Reed, filmmaker/librettist — featured on Oprah, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, The Moth Radio Hour — is one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film." A New York Foundation for the Arts fellow, she has had residencies at Yaddo, Hermitage Artist Retreat, and Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Regarding AS ONE's BAM premiere, the New York Times said: "backed by scene-setting projections from Ms. Reed, the drama powerfully coheres." San Francisco Chronicle noted the "delicately atmospheric film" and libretto — co-written with Mark Campbell — that "conjures up a blend of excitement, shame, self-fulfillment and fear with crisp efficiency." She is collaborating again with Campbell and Kaminsky on SOME LIGHT EMERGES (Houston Grand Opera/HGOco). Reed's PRODIGAL SONS, a "whiplash doc that heralds an exciting talent" (SF Weekly), premiered at Telluride Film Festival, has been shown at 100+ festivals and broadcast worldwide, and garnered 14 awards including the FIPRESCI Prize. She is also working on DARK MONEY, a documentary about campaign finance reform.

About the Beall Center for Art + Technology’s current exhibit:

“Masculine ←→Feminine” focuses on the gendered body, and how artists project gender and sexual identity. Whether it’s historical works like Robert Heineken’s "He/She" series (1979)─in which the artist represents how gender difference affects communication ─ or contemporary pieces like Julie Heffernan’s "Self-Portrait" series (2011)─allegorical oil paintings that often depict the artist in androgynous or non-human states ─ the artworks featured in this exhibition attempt to free us from the masculine/feminine binary. Some works react to a state of being where there is no distinction between masculine and feminine signifiers, as is the case in Victoria Vesna’s new version of "Bodies Incorporated" (1995-2017), a pioneering net.art that allows viewers to design their own avatars using both human and animal features. Others boldly confront ideas about perceived differences between “the sexes,” such as Micol Hebron’s "Barbara" (2011-2017) ─ a site-specific installation of a seven-foot tall crystallized vulva that invites viewers to engage with the seemingly mystical nature of human anatomy, and experience the social dynamics tethered to it. When presented together, the works in "Masculine ←→ Feminine" may reveal a historical timeline of how identity has become increasingly generative as we discover new ways to socially construct ourselves. Especially through the advent of new social, psychological, technological resources, we have unprecedented tools to utilize as we hone our sense of self ─ which ultimately provides greater agency in the evolving notion of a gender spectrum. The artists in this exhibition have advanced this timely and important discourse by actively participating in the current climate of gender politics, and challenging us to do the same. –Beall Center


* from the Long Beach Opera website


April 15, 2017 - 12:00pm