Aunty Dana's Opp Shop 130 Riddiford Street, Newtown, Wellington

17/03/2020 - 20/03/2020

Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, 48 Nile St, Nelson

15/08/2020 - 15/08/2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Nelson Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

A true rural trans love story.  

Preferring provincial life in rural Northland, transgender couple Willow (SHE) and Ren (THEY) are “small-town famous.” Already a long-term couple, their relationship takes an exciting new direction when both simultaneously begin their journeys into gender-affirming hormone therapy.

While welcoming physical changes, unexpected shifts in their internal geography have a seismic impact on the way they each relate to cis men and women, themselves, and each other.

In this talk-show meets reality television meets sketch comedy appearance, the couple interview one another LIVE, digressing into devised and improvised storytelling to answer audience questions from their unique perspectives.

With grit, honesty, and tenderness, Willow and Ren share the surprising joys and heartbreaks of re-mapping the way to love when nurture mediates nature.

The Wellington PREMIERE season comes on the heels of Wellington Pride and is intended to gain feedback from gender-diverse peers and allies before it tours regional New Zealand later in 2020.

This event is proudly made possible through Kakano Support by NZ Fringe and Creative New Zealand as well as Gender Minorities Aotearoa and Aunty Dana’s Op Shop!

Aunty Dana’s Opp Shop 130 Riddiford Street, Newtown, Wellington
Tuesday, 17 – Friday 20 March 2020
For Tickets:

South Dunedin Pop-up Library, 199 Hillside Road South Dunedin
Tuesday 24 March 2020
12:00 noon

Nelson Fringe 2020
Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, 48 Nile St, Nelson
Saturday 15 August 2020 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Adult (pay what you can A): $14.83 ($13.00 + $1.83 fees)
Adult (pay what you can B): $19.95 ($18.00 + $1.95 fees)
Adult (pay what you can C): $27.12 ($25.00 + $2.12 fees)
Children (under 13yrs): $11.75 ($10.00 + $1.75 fees)
Eventfinda tickets sold out

Part of Nelson Fringe Festival

Theatre , Spoken word ,

1 hr 30 min

A really beautiful show

Review by Mallory Stevenson 20th Mar 2020

SHE + THEY is defined by a particular sort of intimacy. The subject matter, namely the lives of spouse-and-wife performers Ren and Willow Lunicke as they both undergo transgender hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in the year leading up to their marriage, is clearly a personal one. More than this, though, it’s intimate in the mundanity of much of what they share with the audience.

In a mix of direct address with occasional scripted scenes, the pair give a holistic account of their reactions to the hormone treatments. As their bodies change, so do their personalities, their senses of self-image, and their relationship. What’s really refreshing about these scenes is their concern less with overwhelming conflict and catharsis than with the incidental processes through which the pair try to understand themselves and each other.

Their emotional honesty comes across all the more deeply because of their capacity to include the casual events which shape their ways of life, how they go about their jobs and household chores, without leading to the formally conventional dramatic consequences that are still standard, even in the work of our more outwardly anarchic theatre practitioners. 

These details are able to seem intimate rather than boring because of the rapport that the performers build with the audience. The meat of the show is delivered, as mentioned, through an extensive direct address, often framed through responses to audience questions written on paper and drawn from a hat. (On opening night, many of these questions seemed to have been scripted, probably as a placeholder while they gather questions through successive performances.) The questions centre on trans issues, the couple’s personal history, or both, allowing the performers to discuss their lives on a broader timescale and transness in general, eventually segueing into the more specific events of their lives on HRT.

Introducing it at the start of the show, the performers compare this format to that of a talk show. In practice, the friendly, polished but informal discussion of personal facts reminded me of a vlog, of the less artificial sort. The informality of this format is, again, perfectly intimate, allowing the performers to discuss their lives rather than over-dramatise them, letting the entertainment value come from their personality and comical rapport with the audience as we hear about their lives and history together.

Some of the information that they share about their lives as a married couple and as trans people feels like something I don’t get to hear about often, just because it’s too normal to be treated in most media. It’s not that these sorts of details about washing dishes and being frustrated with slow-acting medications are private, it’s that they’re mundane and yet, in their specificity, unusual. That said, there’s no absence of drama in their stories of falling in love, of realising that they’re trans, of moving to a house-boat on a Northland farm.

Audiences who want to learn more about transness will also find much of interest here. Those that are completely unfamiliar are accommodated, with definitions of basic terms such as cisgender, but even those who are trans themselves may be unfamiliar with some information (did you know that taking some hair loss medications with testosterone can stop you from growing a beard?) Beyond that, it would be hard not to be interested and entertained by the couple’s charm, honesty, and skill as performers. This is a really beautiful show. 


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