October 22nd, 2020

Real-life drama ‘The Pink Unicorn’ tackles GSAs in rural Texas


By Mabell, Dave on November 8, 2019.

Ashley Thomson runs through a scene from Theatre OutrĊ½s upcoming presentation of The Pink Unicorn, set for next weekend at the downtown Didis Playhaus. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Even in Texas! High school students across North America are realizing not everyone is born a typical boy or a girl.

Smalltown Texas is the setting for a real-life drama, where authorities try to prevent students from creating a gay-straight alliance for their community. A mother, Elise Forier Edie transformed her experience into “The Pink Unicorn” and it’s been presented to appreciative audiences across Canada and the U.S.

Southern Alberta audiences will have a brief opportunity, 8 p.m. on Nov. 15 and 16, to see for themselves if those rural school officials really understood their students. Lethbridge-based performer Ashley Thomson stars in the solo show, being presented downtown in Didi’s Playhaus by Theatre Outre.

For Thomson it’s actually the third time she’s taken on the demanding task – changing voices and mannerisms to portray the mother, the daughter, the school principal and others. Her first presentations came earlier this year, as part of the city’s Soar Festival and PrideFest events.

It’s given her “the opportunity to explore that uncomfortable space where we struggle to understand experiences that are different from our own,” she says.

For Albertans, she adds, it addresses an issue that’s been debated at both the local and provincial levels.

“It’s very relevant,” as audiences learned during a recent run of “The Pink Unicorn” at Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary. “It’s timely.”

As Jolene, the daughter, prepares for high school she decides to make a dramatic change to her hair and her clothing. She also tells her mother, Trisha, that she doesn’t feel female all the time.

To Trisha, raised as a conservative Christian in an area with little cultural diversity, that’s confusing to say the least.

But she begins to take steps toward greater understanding and support.

“It has given me the opportunity to channel a mother’s love for her child in all its fierceness and imperfection,” Thomson says.

The play also addresses racism and body image, points out artistic director Jay Whitehead.

But there’s plenty of humour as well.

“It’s an inspiring tale of personal change, compassion and mutual understanding that will have audiences cheering this single mother on her journey to acceptance and understanding.”

Tickets are available online at theatreoutre.ca and potentially at the door one hour before the show. But Whitehead cautions seating is up-close and limited, offered on a first-come basis.

Didi’s Playhaus is located on the second floor of the McFarland Building at 4 Avenue and 6 Street South.

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