Meet Mama Gloria Allen, the inspiration behind “Charm”

I like telling my story because i think people need to know, you know, what we have to go through being a transgender person; and sometimes it can be difficult and scary and then sometimes it can be beautiful. So I read this article about mama Gloria, and I love the idea of her going up in her high heels up to the office and saying I want a classroom and I’ll teach these kids how to behave. And I also looked up a couple of other articles and I gave him to Philip and I said would you I think this is what you would do you think this would be great story and he suggested I maybe talk to a different playwright and I said no you’re one of our family and go visit her class I met mama and mama is immediately immediately brings you in. I mean she’s a charismatic loving wonderful person in the minute you meet her you are sort of at her party and she has become a very good friend and an important person in my life and it was when she said will you write this play will you do this that I thought okay that’s two people asking me to do this and one of them is the person it’s about you know and it terrified me so I figured I should do it your classes were sort of beautifully unstructured. Yes it was. It was the people in the room really decided what the day was going to look like using for for watching it that’s what I’m looking. Yes they did in that gather chance to let them be themselves you know and they could talk to me and I would listen and if I could give them some good information i would do that. Sometimes you would tell them kind of hard things yeah hard things to hear or controversial things or things that maybe they didn’t agree with they always took it from you yes and they always listen to you and said thank you and I asked some of them like how what’s it like hearing something that you don’t like to hear and more than one of them told me I just like that she listens to me I was very clear about i am only here if you want me here and anything said in this room if you don’t want me to repeat it or fictionalize it in anyway just let me know and it won’t it won’t be but way more often than people telling me please don’t repeat this more often i got people saying and you better put that in your play what philip has done it’s not a solely trans story there are three trans characters in the play but it’s it’s it’s a full fully fleshed-out ensemble there are all sorts of people on the spectrum and what I think he’s done brilliantly is to put the character of mama gloria in the center you would think that she would be the focus of the play and she is but she’s also the window through which we see all these other characters and he did that brilliantly I saw the show at least twice and the second time i attended because i was going to be giving a talk back afterwards and I was seated right near the entrance next to another person it was also going to be participating in the talkback he was crying he cried through most all of the second act and you just leaned over to me and said that’s my story there I was just pierced me because I related so strongly to all of these characters but he saw his story represented so closely up there’s some of the same challenges and part of the challenges we faces trans people are inside you just you’re ripping yourself apart over who you are and is it worth it my mother and grandmother and my great on those were the three amazing women that I looked up to in my lifetime and they were there for me and they were my designer of clothes and everything my makeup if I didn’t look right they let me know this oh no you go back change no I don’t like that on you and I remember one incident my cousins and my grandmother these were her grandchildren you know and I saw them one day and I ducked behind a car so they wouldn’t see me and then I told my grandmother about it and she said oh we’ve always know who you were and what you were you don’t have to hide from us and I fell in love with myself you know because I didn’t love myself at one time but I feel in love with myself because here i had a support group behind me that was like in 58 and 59 I came into this project thinking etiquette is about a list of rules and those rules bump up against me in a way that I don’t appreciate and that hold up the capitalist society and keep it in place but actually etiquette is always changing and Emily Post herself wrote about asking yourself what makes your guests comfortable and if you are a list of etiquette and your list of rules does not make your our guests comfortable then throw out those rules and change to make everybody else comfortable including yourself and that’s charm yeah yeah well I like that well thank you


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