Shakina Nayfack Brings ONE WOMAN SHOW: A WORK IN PROGRESS to Joe's Pub Tonight
Tonight, December 7th Shakina Nayfack will present her debut performance of ONE WOMAN SHOW: A Work in Progress, a solo act tracing thirty-three eccentric years in a male body, featuring new takes on showtune standards and new songs by composers Joe Iconis, Julianne Wick Davis, Sam Salmond, and Nikko Benson.
This funny, scandalous, and moving evening provides a new window into the modern transgender experience, and will also help raise money for Shakina's transition. The benefit show, (also a birthday party), celebrates the launch of Shakina's "KickStartHer" campaign to raise money for her gender confirmation surgery.
"I think what's interesting is that I'm trying to do is demystify the transition process by encouraging people to participate in my journey," says Shakina. "People feel invested in something they're a part of."
In ONE WOMAN SHOW Shakina tells the story of coming of age as a gay boy during the height of the AIDS epidemic, the adolescent trials that forced her to become a radical youth activist, and the awakening that caused her to leave the movement in favor of a spiritual quest to solve her gender crisis.
When asked about transitioning on the job as a theatre director, Shakina explains, "I was terrified of coming out as Trans in the professional theatre community. I worried people wouldn't take me seriously if I came into the rehearsal room in a dress."
It wasn't until this past summer at Barrington Stage Company, where she has worked as Associate Producer for the past two seasons, that Shakina finally began dressing the part, showing up to tech in a floral sundress. "I got all dolled up to sit in the dark for 12 hours, and after rehearsal the actor playing Bashir, the incredible Juri Henley-Cohn, came up to me and said, 'You're an even better director in a dress, you have confidence in every decision.'
Last summer Nayfack also produced Julianne Wick Davis and Dan Collin's musical Southern Comfort, about a chosen family of transgender people living in rural Georgia. "When Julianne Boyd [Artistic Director of Barrington Stage] and William Finn [Artistic Producer of the BSC Musical Theatre Lab] decided on that show I knew I would have their support in my own transition," Shakina said. "We talked about it before the season started, so my transition was sort of woven into the rest of my work."
Still, Nayfack explains that it's one thing to have transgender characters on stage, and another thing to have transgender people working on and in professional mainstream productions. "We have a long way to go in terms of achieving transgender inclusion, but it begins with visibility, and that's what I'm trying to do"
So why should the average person support Shakina's KickStartHer sex change? Well, Shakina puts it this way: "As an independent theatre artist, life is a constant struggle to make your art and make ends meet. Everything I have I put into the shows I'm developing, JUNK, The Disappearing Man, The Craft...I've learned as a director and producer that you can't be afraid of asking for financial support when you believe something has value, now I'm finally taking my own advice to heart. I'm hoping people will support me because they see an accessible way to contribute to someone's evolution, self-realization, and happiness. And in the same way, I hope I can inspire others to be true to themselves and ask for the support they need, whatever that looks like for them."
ONE WOMAN SHOW: A Work In Progress premieres at Joe's Pub, 425 Lafayette St, in New York City, tonight, December 7th, 11:30pm. Tickets are $15 and available at JoesPub.com or by calling 212-967-7555 from noon to 8 PM Monday through Sunday.
For more information about the KickStartHer project, visit www.YouCaring.com/KickStartHer.