In the spring of 2017, the Center Theatre Group launched the Block Party series at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Each year, CTG highlights a couple of productions from local “intimate” (formerly 99-seat) theatre companies in Los Angeles as a way to bring attention to the talent showcased in the more than 250 local theatre companies in town. Another thing it does – provides a larger stage for a multitude of voices that are not normally heard from in the larger theatres in town.
To T or Not to T?, the current Block Party entry on stage at KDT, is a perfect example of this. A one-man show written and performed by the talented D’Lo is as the subtitle suggests, “a comedic trans journey through (T)estosterone and masculinity.” Originally produced at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the show is a very personal look at not only queer and trans issues, but also how these cause conflict with his Tamal immigrant family.
Using his commitment ceremony to his partner as a framing device, D’Lo relates his journey from his childhood in Lancaster, CA, where he struggled with gender identity and his family’s expectations, through coming out first as bisexual through his decision to transition via the use of “T.” D’Lo is a talented comedian and storyteller, weaving a poignant tale of how he found peace with his identity and his family (including the young death of his sister) through his feminist perspective and his cultural and ancestral roots. One highlight of the show is the recreation of his father’s speech at D’Lo’s commitment ceremony, which he returns to again and again to punctuate his journey.
D’Lo has been ably guided in this journey by director and dramaturge Adelina Anthony, who makes sure the pace never dulls, as well as Tanya Orellana’s vividly colored and playful set; and Rose Malone and Edwin Peraza’s creative lighting and sound design, respectively.
D’Lo has a story worth hearing, one that helps bridge the gaps between us as humans. If we had more large theatres committed to presenting shows like this to the broader community, we might have more understanding and less judgement.
To T or Not to T? at the Kirk Douglas Theatre, only through July 10. Tuesday-Friday 8pm, Saturday 2 & 8 pm, Sunday 1 & 6:30 pm. For tickets, go to CenterTheatreGroup.org