Playwright Ethan Boatner loosely based a trio of new plays on his own history as a transgender male.
Playwright Ethan Boatner was in his early 60s when he began his gender transition. “I was a slow starter,” he jokes. Growing up in the late 1940s, “I didn’t have the vocabulary,” he says. “All I knew was that I didn’t want to be what I was.” He just always thought of himself as a “guy,” he says, then later in life as a “gay guy” who has “always gone around dressed as I am now.”
Boatner has transformed his history into three semiautobiographical one-act plays under the title of Changes in Time, which receives its world premiere this month by 20% Theatre Company. “Wishes” is the story of Rain, a 14-year-old tomboy that another girl at camp had a crush on. In “Dresses,” Lorraine, now in her mid-30s, is attending a wedding and argues with her mother about wearing a dress. And finally, in “Changes,” set in the present, Laurence confronts his father after the death of his mother.
“Wishes” won a contest sponsored by Stages, the National Transgender Theatre Festival, and was given a reading in NYC in 2003. “Every individual is inextricably bound to the context of his/her time and society,” Boatner explains. “I wanted to show a character who doesn’t know what’s going on in her/his own head. She/he’s just trying to get along.”
In the Twin Cities, Boatner was a fixture in the gay community for more than 10 years as a contributor and editor of Lavender, the GLBT newsmagazine. He retired in 2009. May 11–25. Minneapolis Theatre Garage, 711 Franklin Ave. W., Mpls., 612-870-0723, tctwentypercent.org