Playwright Sophie Swithinbank has written a brand new play especially for the Bexhill Theatre Company. The concept of the play came about through a series of devising workshops here at Bexhill College. Jade follows the story of Jonny in a series of moments that question the rigidity of gender.
Identity is something that all young people have to come to terms with. In an ideal world, everyone would be comfortable in their own skin. Every person would be an uncensored version of themselves. No one would feel oppressed, suppressed or trapped in their own body. Finding your own identity takes time, courage and self-acceptance. For some, this can be an incredibly complex process because they are figuring out their gender identity.
In Jade, this is exactly what Jonny is experiencing. Throughout the play, it is evident that Jonny is struggling to determine his gender identity. In physicality he is a boy, but in mind, his gender is not. He deals with the reactions of his parents, peers and teachers as he experiments with an alternative gender identity.
Gender identity is complex. The topic dates back to the 19th century in medical and psychological literature. Moving into the 20th century, the writings of Sigmund Freud and Judith Butler have had significant contributions to the concept of gender identity. Freud believed that gender is established as a child develops from birth through to adulthood. Butler suggests that gender is something that is constructed. While both ideas are by no means definitive definitions of gender identity, they are important in understanding the history.
Now that we are in the 21st century, one thing that is abundantly clear is that gender is not black and white. It is not as simple as male/female biological differences, but what an individual experiences of their own gender. This could be in relation to their body, mind and how they express themselves.
About Sophie Swithinbank
Sophie Swithinbank is a professional playwright, currently based in London. She is a founding member of Get Lucky Theatre, which specialises in writing for children and young people. Sophie has had works performed frequently at some of Londonís most dynamic venues and schools. Following her MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Sophieís first play The Superhero became a success in a number of venues including the Lyric Hammersmith.
Sophie is currently a member of the Soho Writerís lab, a nine month writing programme. Her new play Come Inside follows the journey of pregnancy. It will premier at The Bush Theatre in May. In August, it will go to the Edinburgh Fringe. Sophie works in the Directorís Office at the National Theatre and teaches creative writing at Chelsea Young Writers.
Bexhill Theatre Company
Bexhill Theatre Company includes students from Bexhill College, St Richardís Catholic College, Bexhill Academy and Hastings Academy. They have been meeting every Wednesday afternoon since September 2017, and performed Jade throughout March. There were two exclusive performances at St Richardís and Bexhill Academy, and one public performance here at the Izzard Theatre on Wednesday 14th March.
For more about events at the Izzard Theatre, please visit our website http://www.bexhillcollege.ac.uk/theatre