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Trans Theatre Festival: Sandy Gooen and Pass/Fail

The Trans Theatre Festival 2018 at the Brick, 579 Metropolitan Ave in Brooklyn. Presents Pass/Fail

Pass/Fail is a new play by Sandy Gooen, whose Twitter is @featsandygooen. A play about friendship, belonging, and, well, passing. The story follows Johnny, who is a transmasculine student at a women’s college, and his best friend Noah, who is a cis gay man at the Ivy League across the street. Directed by Donnie Cianciotto, the rather large cast (for an indie theater production) includes Sydney Ronis, Marc David Wright, Hannah Roze, Rebecca Cianciotto, Emily Mervosh, Jane Marie Price, Jacob Michael, Jonathan Hernandez, Emily McNally.

The Brick is overjoyed to continue it’s annual trans theater festival to celebrate the stories, art, histories, and experiences of trans artists. Recognizing trans artists as an invaluable part of our arts community, both currently and historically, this festival is part of an ongoing commitment to elevating their work. For this and many other reasons, The Brick is proud to present a theater and arts festival curated by and featuring the work of Trans Artists.

So Sandy, tell us about yourself as an artist

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I’m still very much a work in progress, as I’m only just about to finish my undergrad degree in music, but I have been involved in music and/or theatre for a majority of my life. My experiences inform my work, and with Pass/Fail in particular, I have had to look inward, but also deconstruct my experiences from other perspectives. Not all of my work is this personal. I consider myself a storyteller, and I do this through many media, but above all, I know that’s what I’m here to do. 

Share with us a little something about your play that we WON’T see in the press release.

In the script, I have a writer’s note that sums up the ideal experience of every person in the room, the actors, the audience, and myself included: “lean into the discomfort.” I call it a dark comedy. But the real genre is “it’s funny, because it’s awkward, because it’s true.” It covers heightened, complex truths. 

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How does your play resonate today? Feel free to be blunt. 

For everyone, I think the play is a moment to feel empathy and awkward about the way that trans people are treated. We also touch on the gender dynamics that currently exist inside academia and the infighting in the LGBT community, as well as, friendship, love, and the struggle to own one’s  identity. Those are timeless topics! 

Why did you choose The Trans Theatre Festival for your work?  

While I recently debuted a song about tokenism, and I don’t really love feeling like I have to only do “trans” shows, I enjoy getting to work with my community and the opportunity to do my work. I hope that trans artists can continue to go beyond our transness, or rather bring it with us into a broader world. 

Where do you see it going in the future? What’s the next step?  

I hope that people are interested and it gets people talking. Pass/Fail is one of many of my projects, but I’d really love to see it get to a bigger space with a real budget, and a fuller production, because I want there to be a wider spread dialogue about these issues. So, I might keep talking to folks and submitting it elsewhere. 

Final thoughts? 

My director, Donnie, and my whole team are people without whom this couldn’t be happening. It’s really exciting to have more trans artists in the room besides myself, and to have cis artists who are willing to learn and listen onboard as well. One of biggest cis allies in theatre thus far has been my playwriting professor, Andy Bragen, who encouraged me to write Pass/Fail in the first place. 


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