BWW Interview: Noah Fitzer of BOY at Proud Mary Theatre Company
Anna Ziegler's BOY, inspired by a true story, shares the story of a well-intentioned doctor who convinces the parents of a male infant to raise their son as a girl after a botched circumcision. Two decades later, the repercussions of that choice continue to unfold as BOY navigates the tricky terrain of finding love amidst the confusion of sexual identity.
Proud Mary Theatre Company, South Carolina's only LGBTQ+ theatre company, presents the state community theatre premiere of BOY by Anna Ziegler August 9-18 at three different locations across the Upstate.
The titular Boy, Adam, is played by transgender actor Noah Fitzer, who recently starred as Christian Bechdel in Proud Mary's musical production of Fun Home. BroadwayWorld asked Noah to tell us more about BOY.
BWW: First, please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Greenville, and I am a rising sophomore at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. I am double-majoring in Music (with a concentration in composition) and Philosophy. I am a singer-songwriter (www.youtube.com/user/iminaphase) and a longtime musical theatre nerd! I am gender-nonbinary, an identity under the transgender umbrella, and my pronouns are they/them.
Tell us a little about BOY and your role in it.
It's based on a true story that became famous in the 80s. The play is about a man named "Adam," whose botched circumcision spurred his parents to raise him as a girl under the supervision of a psychologist named "Wendell Barnes." Adam was not told that he was born biologically male until midway through his teenage years. I play Adam at age 23. He has, in the past several years, socially and medically transitioned back to male, and he is now trying to navigate love. Unfortunately, he has not been able to make peace with his past, which eats at him and diminishes his ability to maintain healthy relationships. The play also includes several scenes from Adam's childhood, interspersed throughout the show, and I play him there, as well. As Adam grows up, he transforms from a young child aiming to please to a frustrated preteen, who desperately wants to communicate to the adults in his life that everything is not okay.
This show has been described in so many ways - a love story, a call to action, a way to travel to a world many have never experienced. How would you describe it?
Personally, I see it as a simulation of what can happen when we force gender on a child. Audience members who have never suffered gender dysphoria will get a taste of that experience through Adam. Even people like me who are always thinking about gender will find some clarity in seeing the causes and effects of Adam's trauma from the outside. I suppose I see it as a call to let children express gender in whatever way makes them happy, and a reminder that gender conformity is not necessary or superior.
What discoveries have you made about the play - and yourself - in the rehearsal process so far?
It's made me think a lot about how people show their insecurities. Adam and I are very different in this way. Even though he keeps a lot of his knowledge about himself inside, he is a lot more forward than me. It has been quite the process to gather the confidence with which he presents himself. He is someone who acts on his social impulses, and he sometimes comes off as too aggressive because of all his repressed feelings. My gender identity journey, which is in many ways parallel to Adam's, has left me a lot more cautious and visibly anxious in social situations. I expect that getting the chance to inhabit this character will actually teach me to be more sure of myself.
How do you think this show will resonate with audiences?
This is a play that points out many places where things can go wrong, but whose main message is largely up to interpretation. It's one of those pieces where everyone will come away with something slightly different. I think some people will see something that drastically widens their world view, and some others, like me, will find a form of clarity in the show. This is not the kind of play we ever see in South Carolina, and it's truly bold for Proud Mary to choose to bring this story to life. I think everyone who sees the show will come away needing some time to process, but that they will ultimately find it rejuvenating.
BOY will premiere August 9-11 in the newly-remodeled Blackbox Theatre at the West Main Artists Co-Operative in Spartanburg. The troupe will present two shows Tuesday and Wednesday, August 13-14 at 8 p.m. in Greenville at Coffee Underground, then make their Anderson debut at The Market Theatre Company Friday through Sunday, August 16-18.
BOY in Spartanburg
Friday-Saturday, August 9-10 @ 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 11 @ 3 p.m.
West Main Artists Co-Operative, 578 West Main St.
BOY in Greenville
Tuesday-Wednesday, August 13-14 @ 8 p.m.
Coffee Underground, 1 E. Coffee St.
BOY in Anderson
Friday-Saturday, August 16-17 @ 8 p.m.
Sunday, August 18 @ 3 p.m.
The Market Theatre Company, 110 Federal St.