Saturday, November 27, 2010

"He has comic timing tattooed on his genes" - Scott Schofield Performs at Out North

Scott in January
I first saw Scott Schofield last January when he introduced the Under 30 performances.  At the time I was surprised by his easy presence in front of the audience.  There was something special about him, though I didn't quite catch what he was doing here, something about being a visiting performer.  We missed his performance of Debutant Balls because we went to Juneau.

Scott after Wu Man
In July he introduced Wu Man and friends.  This time Scott was introduced as Out North's new artistic director.  Again, I was impressed.   Enough to write this as a side note to a long discussion of Wu Man and the evening's music:
His introduction Wednesday was a pleasure to listen to.  His words were good, his delivery fluent, and he effortlessly rotated to acknowledge the audience members sitting behind him on the stage. 
I'm giving all this background to just say, there was something special about this guy which I picked up from the time I first saw him.  Friday night I learned that he is an established performer who has performed all over which was brought home when in one of his pieces he mentioned that he'd 'just played to a packed house in Brussels."

So, my gut was right.  Out North has pulled a minor coup by snagging Scott as the artistic director.  He's closing in on his 30th birthday (this also came out - I think in the Q&A after the performance) and looks like he's approaching 20.  But he's been performing a long time and knows lots of people beyond Anchorage, a number of whom he's going to entice up here and introduce us to.

Friday night (and he does this again Saturday - tonight) he was on stage at Out North as a performer, though he confessed afterward that he couldn't completely get his administrator role out of his head  asking himself, as a performer and an administrator, "Is this show going to go well?  Is this going to help or hurt our future box offices?"

He didn't have to worry.  This guy is a natural story teller. He says raconteur, which I can't write unless the spell checker has it. (Phew! It did.) And his material is compelling.  The program says,
Two Truths and a Lie. . . is a collection of three autobiographical solo performances which have toured nationally to critical acclaim:  Underground Transit (2001), "Debutante Balls" (2004) and "Becoming a Man in 127 EASY Steps (2007).  
After Show Q&A
He gave the briefest of introductions - I'm not even sure what he told us.  Enough for us to know that he was born and raised as a girl and the title "Becoming a Man" meant just that, literally.  So, he had 127 steps.  Our job as the audience was to give him numbers and he'd find that particular step and perform it.  Or, as it turned out once or twice, show us the video.

I don't know a lot of people who have changed genders and the couple I can think of switched from male to female.  And it wasn't something we talked about.  I listened to Tafi's presentation focused on male Samoan children who are early identified as Fa 'afafine at UAA's Diverse Voices presentation.  I've read Middlesex.  My favorite documentary at the Anchorage International Film Festival last year was Prodigal Sons told by a woman returning to her rural home town for her 10th high school reunion who left for college after being the quarterback of his HS football team.  I'm sympathetic to the idea, but the male-female dichotomy is still one of the most rigid we have.  Homosexuality still causes many people grave distress.  The idea of being a woman and then a man or vice versa challenges our brains' flexibility.  We think it has to be either/or.

In the book - Two Truths and a Lie - Scott writes about coming up with this performance.
"Okay," my partner-in-crime S. Bear Bergman sighed as ze [sic] always does when calming me down on a late night, long distance phone call.  "So you have about 127 stories to tell and an hour in which to make sex change EASY, step-by-step."  I made notecards from memories, ruminated, and typed.  Then I found one of my old Choose Your Own Adventure books from elementary school.  Later, on tour in New York, T Cooper and Felicia Luna Lemus left Joe Meno's book The Boy Detective Fails by the couch they made up as a bed for me.  There I found the decoder ring.  With such random origins, how could I write any linear play?  The elements of chance that structured my process had to be reflected in the product.
Scott performs Two Truths and a Lie again tonight (Saturday) at 8pm at Out North.  Tickets at the door.  It will be a different performance from the one we saw because the audience isn't likely to choose the same numbers.

Now, as much as liked this, I think it could have been even better.  The lottery aspect of the audience choosing which scene he's going to play means there are a lot of missing parts and the actor doesn't know which scene is up next. 

Even with that caveat, Anchorage folks, what I'm saying here is WE'VE GOT THIS WORLD CLASS PERFORMER TELLING THIS MESMERIZING STORY AND NO ONE KNOWS IT.  So go now and see Scott.  In ten years when he's moved on and he's famous, don't kick yourself because you didn't see him 'way back when' in an intimate little theater in Anchorage before the world discovered him.

As Judith Jack Halberstam, Professor of English and Gender Studies at USC, wrote in the front of Scott's book,
Scott, it should be said up front and often, is simply a mesmerizing performer.  You could listen to his voice all night.  He has comic timing tattooed on his genes, and he can make the trip from irony to sincerity in 3 seconds flat. 


  1. "Homosexuality still causes many people grave distress. "

    I believe that you're getting gender dysphoria and homosexuality mixed up.

    Then again, what do I know, eh ?

  2. Anon, I should have been clearer. I was putting it in the context of male-female identity issues and meant that we still have wide scale discomfort with the idea of homosexuality, with, I guess, the not so obvious implication, that gender transformation messes with people's brains even more. Thanks for clarifying.


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