Sarah Terez Rosenblum (@SarahTerez) is an MFA-holding writer, teacher and Spinning instructor. She's also the Theater Listings Editor for Centerstage Chicago. Look for her posts twice a week.
Chicago writer and actor Rebecca Kling has something many artists would kill for; having lived in first a male and now an increasingly female body, her grasp of the human experience is arguably greater than most. Trans Form, her 2009 one woman show, both educational and fanciful, “explored how being closeted [and] coming out felt as a trans woman,” but with her newest project, Uncovering Mirrors, Kling hopes to “look forward, instead of focusing on what's past.” Part of the Chicago Fringe Festival, Kling’s show investigates “how someone who has spent a few years transitioning claims that identity and presents it to the world.”
Refreshingly idealistic, in conversation Kling projects wit and self-awareness, clearly articulating her writing process and objectives.
“My overarching goal for any artistic project,” she says, “is to learn something about myself. The easiest aspect of creating a show is discovering a general theme or themes. For Uncovering the Mirrors, it's examining how I can find comfort and pride in my identity. Much more challenging, is the nitty-gritty of writing. I always have difficulty letting go of things that aren't working. For example, I recently came into possession of a 1975 Growing Up Skipper doll; when you twist her arm, she grows taller and sprouts boobs. It's absolutely absurd, and I really wanted to work it in [but she] wasn't right for this show.”
Even Skipper-less, the piece promises Kling’s characteristic blend of humor and gravity, taking inspiration from Kling’s bittersweet early memories as well as her religion.
“In Judaism,” she says, “mirrors are supposed to be covered while sitting Shiva so mourners can focus on the deceased, not feel compelled to worry about their appearance. Uncovering the Mirrors, in that sense, means that I'm ready to move past the mourning surrounding my transition: regret of not having grown up socialized as a girl, pain surrounding relationships that have been complicated or damaged by my transition, unhappiness around the financial costs of transitioning, and so on. I'm not 100 percent beyond all that, but Uncovering the Mirrors is a step in that direction.”