“Pronoun” to debut at WHS


Credit: Julia Callini

Pronoun, which centers around a transgender teen, will premier at Wayland High School on Thursday, February 28th. “I just think it’s a really well-written play,” Aiden O’Hara, the director of WHSTE’s production. “It’s a really important story to tell.”

Joanna Barrow

WHSTE is bringing a coming-of-age story that celebrates the LGBTQ+ community to the stage this March for the Massachusetts Drama Festival, which features one-act plays.

“Pronoun,” written by British playwright Evan Placey, centers around a teenage boy named Dean, whose gender was assigned female at birth. As the play unfolds, the audience witnesses Dean’s transition to male and the repercussions of this transition in all of his relationships.

“The play itself is really about Dean’s relationship with his parents, his boyfriend, his friend group, his teachers,” WHSTE director and drama teacher Aidan O’Hara said. “It’s really a coming-of-age story.”

“Pronoun” will be the first play about someone who is transgender that O’Hara has brought to production, as well as the known first in WHSTE’s history. This has generated much excitement among WHSTE members, as the group prides itself on its reputation for taking social issues to the limelight through the medium of theater.

“The theater group has had a long history of creating original work around social topics or social justice topics,” O’Hara said.

Despite having a strong personal reaction to the play, O’Hara believes in the importance of recognizing each audience member’s right to their own experience with the show.

“I think the audience is going to have their own reaction, and that’s the beauty of live theater,” O’Hara said. “We’re going to put a story out, and that’s the connection between the audience and the performers; it’s personal. Whether it’s a rip-roaring comedy, a comedy and a drama or just pure drama, it’s the audience’s own experience.”

The story deals with what at times can be heavy subjects, such as gender and sexual identity, while exploring the implications of such identities in terms of how they impact different types of relationships. The play handles these topics with grace, seamlessly incorporating the more political aspects of the play into the main plotline of a teenage love story.

“It’s not a story that is spoon-fed,” O’Hara said. “We’re just telling a coming-of-age story that includes the through-line of a student transitioning from female to male.”

To ensure the most respectful representation of those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, WHSTE met with Boston’s local chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, most commonly referred to as PFLAG.

“We met with PFLAG, which is the local chapter support group around gay, bisexual, and trans issues,” O’Hara said. “That was one of their big messages: everyone’s experience is different and it’s not about putting your stamp on one experience, it’s about sharing one experience of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people.”

The play strives to represent one journey of a transgender teenage boy, but in no way tries to generalize any individual’s experience.

“The takeaway is that everyone’s journey is their own,” O’Hara said. “We’re telling a story about a transgender youth but one of the main messages is that there is no one experience to be had by transgender youth. It’s not like, ‘This is what it means to be transgender!’”

O’Hara believes that these stories need to be told, as sharing the experiences of people from all backgrounds strengthens every community.

“I think it’s important to see those stories in public forums, so for a person who might identify as transgender, I think it’s really affirmative to see your story up on stage, and I think for the community as a whole, it’s important that we try to tell a variety of different stories,” O’Hara said. “That’s really the power of a theater group. It’s storytelling.”

“Pronoun” will premier Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. at WHS. Admission to Thursday night’s showing will be free for students. Two more shows will follow, one on the night of Friday, March 1 and the next on Saturday, March 2 at 2 p.m.