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my pregnant brother/my playwright sister is a play followed by a play about the play. it's a play on words: a play about the power of and trajectory of words, an afterplay and an interplay.

“You know, there are several different ways of looking at the same thing at the same time.”

(Johanna Nutter, my pregnant brother)

 

In 2009 Johanna Nutter and Jeremy Taylor created the solo show my pregnant brother for the Montreal Fringe Festival. It won the Centaur Award for Best Production a subsequent MECCA and has since become an international hit in both English and French, playing across Canada, in Belgium, France, and at London’s SOHO theatre and the Pleasance Theatre in Edinburgh. While Nutter had received her brother’s blessing to go ahead with the project prior to writing it, it took almost two years before his initial encounter with the play.

 

When James Diamond (a successful multimedia artist), first saw my pregnant brother at The Cultch in Vancouver in 2011, he was devastated. The show, which traced Nutter’s shifting caretaker identity while her transgender brother was coming to terms with his pregnancy, was an interpretation of events that did not correspond to Diamond’s personal truth. Although he recognized her right to express her version of events, he wished for a more balanced account.

 

As the success of the solo show grew, so too did the controversy, especially within the LGBTQ community. Johanna was accused of exploiting her sibling’s life experience to promote her own career, and perpetuating transphobic ideations. After a contentious article appeared in the Scotsman while Nutter was performing the show in the Edinburgh festival, the siblings came to the realization that my pregnant brother was a show born of the walls between them and that it was finally time to turn their attentions and creative energies towards the removal of those walls:  my playwright sister was born.

 

With director Jesse Stong, Johanna and James set about unwrapping my pregnant brother and reassembling it into a more complete package; one that illuminates not only Diamond’s side of the story, but the sibling dynamic as well; all the while asking the question, can two different interpretations of the same experience be equally valid? Is it possible to be both right and wrong at the same time?

The show was invited to the PIVOT Festival in Whitehorse in 2015, and from there, to Magnetic North and the HIgh Performance Rodeo. As they began to prepare for the tour, Diamond became aware that the process of being an actor, the revisiting of traumatic events, was in opposition to his mental health needs. But he wanted his voice heard. Together, they found the right person to embody James' words, to act as a kind of surrogate, and a new production is in the works.