In May 2016, JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN set off on a new stage in her world pilgrimage.
Jo Clifford, and her production team travelled to Brazil to present the show at the International Theatre Festival of Belo City of God (Cidade de Deus) in Rio de Janeiro.
They also led workshops in Sao Paulo and participated in a series of encounters with theologians, theatre practitioners, transgender support groups and the general public. And all under the auspices of ‘Transform’ programme of the British Council.
Jo Clifford, who wrote and performs the play, said:
“It is a great honour to be invited back to Brazil and incredibly exciting to be presenting our performance there.
Brazil has the highest rate of transgender murders in the world - a trans woman is killed there every 22 hours - and in that country we have a life expectancy of only 35. But the country also has groups of incredibly courageous and dedicated trans people working to improve our situation.
It is very much part of our aim as a theatre company to show solidarity with our trans sisters and brothers throughout the world and I hope our performance will play its part in changing the transphobic attitudes and values that cause our suffering.”
Annabel Cooper, the show’s producer, said:
“This invitation came about through the Creative Scotland ‘Made In Scotland’ scheme which enabled us to mount the show at Summerhall during the 2015 Edinburgh fringe.
The curator of FIT, Diego Bagagal, was one of the international producers who saw the show, fell in love with it, and decided to invite us across to the Festival.
It also enabled us deepen our collaboration with Liliane Rebelo and Paula Sousa Lopes of the British Council in Sao Paulo, and also with Natalia Mallo, who has translated the script into Portuguese and who, along with the trans actress Renata Carvalho, is mounting the forthcoming Brazilian production.”
Annabel Cooper accompanied the tour to film its progress; other members of the company are Susan Worsfold, the show’s director and voice coach, who led a voice workshop for trans women in Sao Paulo, and Jak Soroka, a performance artist and recent graduate of the RCS, who acted as stage manager, lighting operator and scenic artist.
Jo Clifford explained:
“Our work is site specific. The show is tailored to whatever space it is we are to perform in. We work collectively as a team to devise the ways in which we can exploit its possibilities. It is a particular pleasure and honour to be performing in the Hall of Columns of MuseuMineiro in Bel Horizonte. It is such a beautiful space.”
“We are also delighted to welcome Jak to the company. Their expertise will be invaluable; and it is a very important part of our aim to encourage and support and collaborate queer theatre artists at the start of their careers.”
The tour was supported by British Council in Scotland and Brazil, and by Creative Scotland.