In honor of Pride Month, Shakespeare Theatre wants to highlight NYC-based trans actor, performer, and writer, Becca Blackwell. Existing between genders, and preferring the pronoun “they,” Blackwell works collaboratively with playwrights and directors to expand our sense of personhood and the body through performance. They were a part of the 2019 Class of Joe’s Pub Working Group, an artist development program that supports artists, young and established, at critical points in their careers.
Blackwell has made a huge impact in the LGBTQIA theatre community and has collaborated with many other theatre artists including Young Jean Lee, Richard Maxwell, Erin Markey, and Sharon Hayes, among others. Their projects include the autobiographical play trilogy They, Themself and Schmerm (2016), Schmermie’s Choice (2020), and Schmerm As It Gets (2021), which have toured across the U.S.
They, Themself, and Schmerm is a mix between a standup routine and confession of Blackwell’s life experiences; from being adopted into a Midwestern religious family, being molested, and pondering the idea of transitioning. Blackwell’s genuine nature and engagement with the audience allow for a good time while also contemplating important questions about what it means to be our true and authentic selves.
The last play of the trilogy, Schmerm As It Gets, is inspired by the 1997 rom-com As Good as It Gets. It is also available to rent for $10 on thewildproject, with all proceeds going to the creators as well as the Wild Project (a nonprofit venue that supports the East Village, LGBTQIA, and BIPOC communities by providing an environment where the artists and space nurture one another). Blackwell’s plays have been performed at venues such as The Public Theater’s 2018 Under the Radar Festival, Abrons Arts Center, and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts TBA Festival.
Blackwell recently created a solo-performance based installation, in collaboration with sound artist Max Bernstein, called The Body Never Lies. According to an article on Artforum, their concept has the goal of mixing science, movement, martial arts, and language in order to “experience self-discovery untethered from language.”
Their work in television and film includes High Maintenance, Ramy, Marriage Story, Shameless, Deadman’s Barstool, Sort of, and Jack in the Box. They are the recipient of the Franklin Furnace Award, the 2015 Doris Duke Impact Award, and the 2020 Creative Capital Award.