The Naked I: Insides Out – Get to Know Andrea Jenkins

This winter, 20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere of The Naked I: Insides Out – the 3rd in a series of Naked I plays that explore queer and trans* experiences through monologues, short scenes, and spoken word poems. The show was created over the past year by selecting 25 of 119 stories submitted by community members. This newest installment of The Naked I will involve over 75 LGBTQ artists and allies – including contributing writers, directors, performers, designers, technicians and supporting staff.

You can see The Naked I: Insides Out February 13-23, 2014 at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis. Purchase tickets now!

Over the next eight weeks, we will be featuring interviews from a variety of The Naked I: Insides Out artists.  We recently asked Andrea Jenkins what she had to say about The Naked I: Insides Out.

Andrea Jenkins

What attracted you to The Naked I: Insides Out?

I saw the first show The Naked I, and was deeply moved by the honesty shared on the stage. It featured trans and queer performers, and the audience was amazing. Coming from a transgender experience myself it was a beautiful thing to watch our collective voice take the stage.

What type of role will you have in the production of The Naked I: Insides Out

I wrote the piece called “A Requiem for the Queers: or why we wear the color purple.” I will also perform the piece.

In the last show, The Naked I: Wide Open, you wrote a piece but did not perform it. How do you anticipate performing your own piece (this time) will change your experience?

The piece I wrote for The Naked I: Wide Open, “Pink and Blue, a (short) Love Story” was deeply personal, I really wanted to see a director and actors take the words and make them their own. I received a lot of positive feedback from the piece. This time I want to take a larger role in the production and challenge myself in a new way by learning lines and interacting with the cast and the audience.

What do you hope/think audiences might take away from your piece in particular? 

“A Requiem for the Queers: or why we wear the color purple” is really a piece about empowerment, it also highlights some events and people that have been very instrumental in the beginning of the Queer Movement in American life. I hope that audiences are informed and inspired to live their lives openly and authentically in a way that takes the movement to a new level focused on Transgender rights and equality.

Now, a little more about Andrea, the person…

What is your pronoun preference?

That is an interesting question, when I first came out as Transgender a little over 20 years ago, I was very sensitive to being mis-gendered and no one was asking this question on a regular basis. Now that it is rapidly becoming more common to pose this question I have become less concerned about the perceived slights and micro-aggressions that come with being mis-gendered. I am more comfortable with being a little ambiguous , that being said, I prefer female pronouns, she, her, etc.

What do you do in the world, outside of working on this production?  

First and foremost I am a Poet, I try to find the beauty and complexity in everything that I do and bring that perspective to the surface. In my day job I work as a Senior Policy for a Minneapolis City Council-member, I have been doing this job for 12 years, it brings me in close contact with other Elected Officials and Policy-makers, as well as direct contact with the community. I am also a teaching artist /activist. I write poetry and prose, plays and performance pieces. I perform throughout the local community and around the country.

One of favorite hobbies is playing Tennis, I’ve played since I was about 14 years old. I like to take long walks and read a good book. Whenever I travel, I try to go a museum or art gallery, or even just take in the public art and architecture of a place.

What is the strangest or most interesting job you have ever had?  

One of the most interesting and I guess some might say strange was that I was a Program Manager for the All Gender Health Program at the Program for Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota. It was the only job that I ever had that required me to watch porn. I had to do outreach to users on porn sites to invite them to participate in the research projects.

If your gender identity was a food, what would it be? 

Tofu- it would take on the identity of whatever the situation called for.

What is your first memory of gender? 

I remember when I was about six years old I saw these two drag queens on the bus. I was with my mother and sister and I was just fascinated by these men in makeup with blonde wigs. For some reason I was trans-fixed by them, and I remember thinking they’re like me? I was confused.

What if the concept of gender didn’t exist? How would that change your life? 

Hmmm…that’s tough, I think that life would be complicated, I think a better idea would be if gender didn’t matter.

What is your most favorite accessory or article of clothing? 

I guess I would say a hat, I wear them year around and really feel comfortable with something on my head.

Andrea, you feel the most naked when… 

As an African American Transgender woman I feel vulnerable and naked everyday, as I walk through the world. I feel like people know my identity and can use that information as a weapon against me.

What animal best describes the concept of gender you have for yourself?

I have a tattoo of a Scarab on my right arm. A scarab is a dung beetle and was revered in ancient Egypt and prominent in their visual art. They were fascinated with the little bug because it was the only life form that could reproduce itself without a partner, in other words, it is dual gendered. It would lay eggs, rolled it in their dung and leave it in the sun to fertilized.