No two transgender experiences are alike. That’s the crux of Paul Lucas’ “Trans Scripts, Part I,” which illuminates the lives of seven transgender women. The characters in the play, which had its U.S. premiere this month with the American Repertory Theater after an award-winning run at Edinburgh’s famed Fringe Festival, are based on real-life stories collected from more than 75 interviews with transgender people across the globe.
“Even though the playwright is not a transgender person, the voices, all of the words in the play are directly from transgender women,” explains Eden Lane, who plays Sandra. “So it’s not just stories about transgender lives. These are stories told from their words. I think that’s really important.”
Lane’s character Sandra is a Staten Island-bred 65-year-old, vividly described as a “former garage mechanic with the soul of a French poet,” who had transitioned at age 40. Lane, an actor and the first openly transgender mainstream TV broadcaster, adapts to the complex character despite her differences.
“[Sandra] tells about her experience in a way that’s very direct, very honest, and she clarifies herself in such a way that it’s hard not to find her charming at the same time,” explains Lane. “[She’s] very confident and very definite about how she sees herself and how she expects a place in the world. I think that’s the first part of her that I was able to identify with.”
In the play, Sandra and the six other characters tell their unique stories. The diverse women also have some illuminating exchanges.
“Some surprising conversations happen between the characters because they have such varied and different experiences,” says Lane. “It allows us to bring a lot of texture not just for the audience but to each of those characters as you watch these various women from really unexpected backgrounds interact with one another.”
And, yes, expect some laughs.
“There are plenty of opportunities for fun,” notes Lane. “This is not only a dour kind of evening. There’s a lot of fun because these women are a lot of fun.”
Ultimately, Lane, the other actors — some of whom are also transgender — and the director Jo Bonney hope that “Trans Scripts” tells these women’s stories in an honest way.
“It’s so important that the American Repertory Theater is leading in producing Trans Scripts,” says Lane. “Leading the effort to present an inclusive and broad-spectrum picture of transgender lives. No one within range of this theater should miss it because it’s truly a major first endeavor for an American theater company.”
If you go:
Loeb Drama Center
Through Feb. 5
64 Brattle St., Cambridge
Tickets start at $25, americanrepertorytheater.org