While cruising around on job boards for illustration work, I found a posting for a play that needed a billboard for its production. It was a volunteer job but I figured that punching out an illustration for it would not only be mutually beneficial, but that it would also be fun to work with theatre folk again, as a not-so-well-hidden secret of mine is that I used to be a giant drama nerd. In fact, I almost went to school for technical theatre instead of animation, and it ended up coming down to whether I liked New York or Boston better. Obviously there was a clear winner.
Anyway, the picture the design team wanted for this play was a pin-up, comic-book style drawing of the leading lady. (Pretty much exactly what I draw all the time anyway, haha.) The plot of the play is about gender identity, and follows the career of a young girl named Pete, who is really awesome at baseball. She has a mentor who is pushing her to try for the majors, but as her fame starts to rise, after some seemingly regular tests, it comes out that she has high levels of testosterone, much like that female track star who got accused of cheating for running against women with the high levels of testosterone she possessed. Anyway, long story short, Pete then starts struggling with her femininity, thus this hyper sexy image, which is supposed to be like her trying to be shown as a woman in every possible way. Unfortunately, the play ends on a sad note, and Pete ends up killing herself because she can’t take it anymore.
I tried explaining this story to some of my students because I was working on it during our afternoon art class last week. One of them was pretty insensitive both to the plot point about gender identity and suicide for some pretty ill backed up reasons. But it just goes to show that if there are still children being raised to think that these issues aren’t important or that they’re somehow sinful because of the inequality in society, then it really is a story that needs to be told. I think it’s pretty ridiculous that the child in question is the first one to call racism on things that aren’t even racist (i.e. white moves first in chess), but then will act like anyone who doesn’t fit the heterosexual mold is somehow going straight to hell. But that’s a rant for another day, I suppose.