In Anna Ziegler's play "Boy," a doctor advises two parents to raise their infant son as a girl following a terrible accident.
To help with preparation for this provocative production from the Majestic Reader's Theatre, a person who is gender transitioning came to speak with director Robert Leff and his cast during rehearsals.
"It was very enlightening, and we got to know this person as a person," Leff said.
The drama, loosely based on a true story, will have two performances Sunday in the Majestic Lab Theatre. The play runs about 90 minutes without an intermission.
The story begins in the 1960s. The parents, Trudy and Doug Turner, played by Karen Wohlwend and Pat Leathrum, have just had twin boys. When one of the boys is circumcised, the method used destroys his penis.
Dr. Wendell Barnes (Rob Otrembiak) convinces the parents it would be best to raise their son as a girl. He says they should never tell their son the truth about being born a boy, Leff said.
Samantha, played by Robert Best, struggles while growing up as a girl. The child doesn't like to wear dresses or enjoy anything girls are supposed to. She lives a very lonely life.
"So, he never feels he is a girl. What he's told he is doesn't go with what he's feeling inside," Leff said.
When Samantha turns 23, she decides to start living as a man and begins going by the name Adam.
The play's final character is Jenny Lafferty (Kelsea Ashenbrenner), a young woman Adam meets at a party.
"We also see their relationship develop, and one of things is Adam has never interacted with a woman," Leff said.
The play follows Adam's life from 1968 to 1990 with flashbacks to Samantha growing up at ages 6, 7 and up to 13.
Leff asked Best, who has a 7-year-old daughter, to observe her reading aloud at their first rehearsal. This was to help Best portray Samantha and Adam.
"His performance is done through posture, voice and mannerisms," Leff said. "What Robert and I are going for is more of the essence rather than saying this is a girl."
Parent and child relationships also play a large part in "Boy."
"As the play progresses along we start to realize the impact this has on the parents," Leff said.
The director said Ziegler's play isn't anti-transgender. It's a compassionate play, which tells a human story.
"The characters come across as very real and understanding, even though some of the things most of us haven't dealt with or have to face," Leff said. "There is a connection that we could all have to the play."