One of the joys of the High Performance Rodeo is that it introduces audiences to performers from around the world. This weekend, Calgarians can make the acquaintance of Vanessa Van Durme, an actress who became Belgium’s first transexual back in 1975. Her monologue, Look mummy, I’m dancing, lays her life bare on the stage.
“I tell the public very openly about what it was like being a person like me back in the ’60s. I tell them of my struggles. I tell them of my time as a prostitute, 13 or 14 years,” Van Durme says over the phone from France. “Then I came back to the theatre, because I came out of drama school. Can you imagine? I was then in my late 40s and I came back to the theatre and now I am touring around the world!”
In the piece, Van Durme plays her mother, her father, herself as a four-year-old boy and herself as she is now. “I have a monologue as my mother speaking and my mother says, ‘My child is hurting and I can’t help.’ ”
If Van Durme could go back and tell that boy anything, it would be to “just do the same. Because otherwise you will be a very unhappy man later on. And you can become a very happy woman. I am a very happy person. I am okay.”
Look mummy, I’m dancing plays the Rodeo Friday and Saturday at the Engineered Air Theatre. Tickets are $35.