Tess: Atlanta theatregoers may be familiar with your past roles in town including many memorable shows at Actor’s Express, such as Beautiful Thing, The Goat, The Judas Kiss and Wolves. You’ve also acted at The Alliance, Dad’s Garage and Synchronicity. You’ve appeared in several Atlanta-shot films, TV shows and commercials, and “by day,” you’re Associate Artistic Director and Casting Director at The Outfit. That’s a lot of hats! How do you manage working in several arenas? Do you favor one of your jobs more than another?
Clifton: I’ve always thrived when very busy. Idleness is tough for me, and it’s sometimes hard to put my brain on pause and relax, so I actually find juggling many jobs to be comforting. I’ve gotten good at compartmentalizing duties. Today, I’m rehearsing for these six hours. Check! During that chunk of time tomorrow, I’ll respond to emails. Check! I’m a chronic list maker and take pleasure marking things as “done.” Nerd alert! I do enjoy stage acting more than on-camera work, and I think that’s because of the teamwork nature of a rehearsal process, cast bonding, dressing room stories, the joy of feeling an audience’s energy coming back at you nightly, and the reality that no two shows are exactly the same. I find being on a film set, particularly with “movie stars,” fascinating and fancy, but also a bit tense, as everyone else seems to be a very small part a huge machine that can often seem massive. That can feel foreign to me. Once a play is open, we actors drive the non-stop train. It’s all mostly on our shoulders. I find that responsibility thrilling. I do also adore my administrative/producing work too. Being on staff at a theatre that tells stories that start transformative conversations gets to the heart of why I’ve loved theatre since childhood. And as Casting Director, I find great joy in being the first point of contact at The Outfit for many Atlanta actors. I take that duty very seriously, probably because I still act myself. No one likes to audition, so I strive to make the process here at The Outfit fair, professional and compassionate.
Tess: Your characters Adam and Samantha in Boy are based on a real person, David Reimer from Canada, whose journey – he was born a boy, raised a girl after an accident and then identified as a boy again – was quite well known, covered in books and TV appearances and medical literature. What was your preparation like to portray a fictional version of a complex, real person?
Clifton: My main source of research came from the wonderful biography of David by John Colapinto called As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. David speaks for himself in it, and many people in his life – his infamous psychiatrist, parents, teachers, friends – put his story in very detailed context. He also describes in detail what went on in his many therapy sessions (as “Brenda”) as he was being coached how to be a girl. BBC Canada interviewed David and his family, and I watched several of those revealing clips. Similarly, I was blown away by the National Geographic documentary The Gender Revolution, a captivating piece on the history of gender identity. I also tapped into some personal struggles from my past to relate emotionally to Samantha’s/Adam’s path toward self-love and independence.
Tess: Boy jumps back and forth in time from the late 1960s to 1990. Medical and psychiatric practices have evolved greatly since the original case. What is the story’s relevance to a 2017 audience?
Clifton: Though not a story about a person choosing to transition from one gender to another, Boy gets to the heart of the current debate about LGBTQ journeys, rights and acceptance. By presenting a story in which someone finally, openly declares who they know themself to be on the inside, our play illuminates many universal truths: love of self; independence as an adult; the power of the human spirit and body to overcome trauma; our species’ instinct to survive and move forward, not back.
Tess: What do you hope audiences will leave this show thinking about?
Clifton: Oh lots! That we must, must, must listen to our children. That we should always question authority figures, get second opinions, research anything that we put into or do to our bodies and our children’s bodies. I hope patrons will think about gender in a less binary – male or female – way. I hope the play is a reminder that we are not simply our anatomy. Male parts and females parts don’t solely determine who we are, who we love or who we want to love us in return. We must recognize that gender and sexuality labels are not firm. We are much more complex than history has taught us to think we are. The beauty of being human is that each and every one of us is intricately complex, and there’s no one out there just like you or me. And that is glorious.
ABOUT THE PLAY
By Anna Ziegler
Directed by Melissa Foulger
Featuring Theatrical Outfit's Associate Artistic Director Clifton Guterman and Artistic Director Tom Key
1968-1990. Davenport, Iowa and Boston, Massachusetts. Inspired by a fascinating true story covered by Oprah, documented by the BBC and exposed in a best-selling biography, Boy asks us: does nature or nurture determine who and how we love? A renowned doctor convinces the parents of a male infant to raise their son as a girl after an accident, and years later, the repercussions and realities of that choice unfold and alter lives. With humor and tenderness, Boy explores the tricky terrain of loving oneself and others amidst the confusion of gender identity as one very special young person simply yearns to be himself. Mature themes and content.
"At the end, you won't be thinking about gender. You'll be thinking about humanity." — The Hollywood Reporter
“Expect it to be a long while before there’s another play more rewarding, more moving, and more magical than Boy.” — Talkin’ Broadway
“A great play….Boy lays out this complex story with precision and grace.” — Huffington Post
“With uncommon empathy and startling insight, Boy gets to the conflict between medicine and science.” — Theatermania
“Captivating, insightful, gut-wrenching and beautiful …dazzlingly, deliciously alive from start to finish. — Talkin’ Broadway
Clifton Guterman* – Adam Turner
Tom Key* – Dr. Wendell Barnes
Annie York – Jenny Lafferty
Daryl Lisa Fazio – Trudy Turner
Matt Lewis* – Doug Turner
Melissa Foulger – Director
Barrett Doyle and Joel Coady – Scenic Designers
Lauren Robinson – Lighting Designer
Samantha P. McDaniel – Costume Designer
Dan Bauman – Sound Designer
Julian Verner – Properties Designer
Clifton Guterman – Associate Artistic Director/Casting Director
Barbara Gantt O'Haley* – Stage Manager
Julie Skrzypek – Assistant to the Director
Sarah Dove – Stage Management Production Assistant
*Appearing through an Agreement between this theatre, Theatrical Outfit, and Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.
PERFORMANCE DATES & TICKETS*
Previews: September 28 and 29, 2017 at 7:30PM
Opening night: Saturday, September 30, 2017 at 7:30PM
Regular performances: October 1 - 15, 2017
Theatrical Outfit’s regular performances of Boy are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 7:30PM and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30PM. Tickets range from $18-$51* and may be purchased online at www.theatricaloutfit.org or by calling 678.528.1500. Group pricing is available. For info, email email@example.com. *Ticket prices are subject to availability. Fees and taxes apply. Order early for best pricing.
PUBLICITY AND PRODUCTION PHOTOS may be accessed HERE.
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS: Major funding is provided by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. Sponsors: Fulton County Office of Cultural Affairs, Turner Broadcasting, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Jackson Spalding, Publix Super Markets Charities, Audience Building Roundtable of The Blank Foundation, Macy’s, MARTA, The Shubert Foundation
ABOUT THEATRICAL OUTFIT: Atlanta’s second-oldest continually-operating professional theatre company was founded in 1976 and has been led by Artistic Director Tom Key since fall 1995. Key led the company through the creation of its award-winning downtown home, the Balzer Theater at Herren’s, the first U.S. theater to achieve LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Balzer Theater is also the historical site of Herren’s, the first restaurant in Atlanta to voluntarily desegregate in 1962; its first African American patrons, Dr. Lee and Delores Shelton, remain Theatrical Outfit patrons and season ticket subscribers. Key's programming of classics, regional and world premieres and musicals tell soul-stirring stories, with themes that explore diversity, equality, ethnicity, race, and religion; and often feature the best writers of the American South, including Ernest Gaines, Lauren Gunderson, Horton Foote, Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Janece Shaffer, Sherry Shephard-Massat, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, and Tennessee Williams. After ten years of capital investment, T.O. is in new territory. Having retired its mortgage, the staff, trustees, and artists have launched a new 2018-2020 Strategic Plan designed to produce great art, diversify and grow our audience, increase revenue and reserves, develop artists who contribute to the dramatic cannon and maintain an effective organization. The plan now has the benefit of two leaders, Artistic Director Tom Key and Managing Director Lee Foster (hired in July 2014) who together have achieved Theatrical Outfit’s most successful successive season of ticket sales since the 2005 opening of The Balzer Theater at Herren’s and the most Suzi Bass Award nominations for several seasons ever garnered by Theatrical Outfit.
ABOUT OUR VENUE: Boy will be performed at The Balzer Theater at Herren's at 84 Luckie Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303.
OUR VISION: A compassionate, joyful, and just community.
OUR MISSION: Produce world-class theatre that starts the conversations that matter.