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Transpose JOY: Pit Party

The image shows the creative team and performers behind Transpose JOY including Ebony Rose Dark, Campbell X, Felix Mufty, Tabby Lamb and Mzz Kimberley.

Welcome to the Barbican for our latest Pit Party – Transpose: JOY – which is the fourth edition in our Transpose series, founded by CN Lester. Our Pit Party strand enables artists and companies to curate shows they want to see on our stages. This time, CN takes on the mantle of Artistic Director and invites Campbell X and Tabby Lamb to take the helm, as Curator and Director respectively. We warmly welcome all the cast and creative team to the Barbican for this joyful performance. This year our press night falls on International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), an annual event which celebrates transgender people and raises awareness of discrimination faced by transgender people everywhere. To mark this important occasion and to show our solidarity, our Conservatory will be illuminated in TDOV’s colours. Do be sure to look up as you leave the Centre this evening!

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Angie Smith, Producer
For Barbican Theatre & Dance


Transpose: JOY is for the trans kids who are scared to come out because the world is not safe for their tender hearts. For the trans childhood strangled inside of us until we could speak our truths. It is for those men, women and non-binary people who love us loudly without shame and continue to hold us close when things get rough. Transpose: JOY is for those who fuck queerly, from self-loving all the way to the promised land of T4T. It is also for those who cannot bear to be touched, terrified that soft breath, as light as a feather, will break us. Transpose: JOY shouts out loud and proud in the faces of those who wish us ill. We refuse to disappear. We will multiply like the heads of the Hydra and re-incarnate as your children and grandchildren because Samsara is universal law. We are the killer app to help dismantle ciscentric heteropatriarchy. Trans people are descendants of Ungud, Aphrodite, Mahatala, Mawu-Lisa, Erzulie, Saint Sebastian, and then some. They are the queer, trans and gender non-conforming gods and healers that white supremacy has wanted to vaporise. Transpose: JOY is a lotus blooming flamboyantly from the filth of transphobia.

Transpose: JOY lovingly allows you to question everything you thought was the truth, but is a lie.

Trans and non-binary and queer people are all our ancestors, and we are also the legacy. We are sacred and beautiful. Come play with us.

Campbell X, Curator

In Conversation: Campbell X and Tabby Lamb

Tabby Lamb (T): So, Campbell, tell me a little about Transpose: JOY.

Campbell X (C): Transpose: JOY was conceived as a theme for Transpose in 2022 to celebrate us – who we are as trans people – and to bring some joy and happiness into our lives because of the pandemic, which has been devastating for our community. But also to bring a different view of transness which doesn't just centre our trans identities but aims to be inclusive of people who have been excluded from society. So we're bringing joy, we’re bringing spirituality, we’re bringing filth, we're bringing dancing, we're bringing singing – we’re bringing it.

T: One of the things that I’m so obsessed about with Transpose: JOY is the cast that you've assembled, and the team that you've assembled. Can you tell me a little bit about how you first discovered these artists and what they bring to the show?

C: Well, starting with you, Tabby, I've been stalking you online [laughs] –

T: – the best people have, darling.

C: I really loved your vibe. You know how sometimes you get to know people over the internet that you haven't met in real life?

T: Especially over the last two years, like, I feel like those are the only relationships any of us made.

C: You’re right. And so I loved the articles you wrote, loved your social media, and I just thought: I love this person, I want to get to know them more. And I stalked you on your website when I was choosing a director – remember I ‘phoned you because I wasn't sure if you directed? Then you were like ‘Yeah, I direct! Yeah bitch!’ And I've never looked back since, because I really love what you bring and your vision, and also how sweetly you listen to some of my suggestions –

T: – they're all good suggestions so that makes sense…

C:  I just admire you and your work, and I'm so blessed that you said yes and you could do it.

Mzz Kimberley I’ve known for years. She was in my film Stud Life, and is a friend, but also incredibly talented. A wonderful performer and chanteuse, she just comes with that Hollywood glamour –

T: – yeah, she oozes glamour, doesn't she?

C: She oozes glamour in the kind of way that we don't see any more in contemporary queer lives. Then Ebony Rose Dark – who I met at Mzz Kimberley’s LIFE actually, we were modelling for that show – I was stalking Ebony as well –

T: – there’s a running theme here…

C: Yeah, because I think you're quite right, the pandemic has led us to lead online lives, you know?

T: And as queer people, as well, sometimes it can be safer to live online. If your art is hosted in a space that you can control, you don't have to worry about the dangers of people coming into your physical space, or things like that. So as queer people we can often find pockets of the internet where we can be more authentically ourselves, or find little corners with other trans and queer people where we can connect one-on-one in that way that we might not be able to do in ‘the real world’.

C: I agree completely.

What I love is how Ebony brings this performance around dance that is subtle and emphasises shapes – you know, kind of dissecting cabaret? But at the same time bringing a sexiness and a flair to it that I also think is very rare to see.

And then Felix Mufti who I think is very unusual as a trans man who is fem – we don't see that representation, using his body in a feminine way. But also an incredible writer and performer. I mean, Felix’s writing is exquisite and, you know, so sacred – that's what I would say. His rapping brings a contemporariness to our trans culture, because often it’s kind of esoteric and ‘activist-y’ and worthy. And I wanted us to be grounded in pleasure, because something I think we’re often denied as trans people is pleasure in our bodies, and pleasure in our art.

T: We’re expected to be walking billboards –

C:  – to educate –

T: – we’re expected to be political activists just simply for existing. What I think has been so joyous about this whole experience, and the team that you and CN have assembled, is that we're still exploring those moments of protest, of activism, of loss, but we’re grounding them in a joy so that those moments ring even louder and even truer – when they're coming through such happiness, and such pleasure. It's giving a more full, well-rounded view of the trans experience. Another thing I think that I've loved about making the show is that we're not really considering cis people? They’re welcome, we’re very happy for you to come along and be a good ally, but we're making a show for trans people and we're making a show as trans people, and to do that in the Barbican feels radical.

C:  It does feel radical, and it’s a shame to even think that that's radical when it should be just normal. My hope is, though, that the people who come start to question their own gender. Once they see there's a portal into a wonderful way of being – which we have, which is our lives – I hope that they start to question the so-called truths that they think they have or they know. Because we've had to do that.

T: I think if anyone leaves this room without questioning their gender at least once then we've done something wrong.

C: Exactly.

T: And that doesn't mean that we're ‘transing’ everyone – we're just asking you to think about your gender, just a little bit.

C: We’re transing everyone.

T: [laughs] We’re transing the world  –

C: [laughs] We’re transing the world, honey –

T: We put oestrogen in the toilet water –

C: That’s right, and we put testosterone in the cakes.

[nb. No cakes were harmed in the making of this interview]

Creative team


Ebony Rose Dark
Mzz Kimberley
Felix Mufti


Creative Team

Curator Campbell X
Director Tabby Lamb
Artistic Director CN Lester
Stage Manager Lucinda Hamlin
Lighting Designer Steve Porter
BSL Jacqui Beckford and Max Marchewicz
Audio Description Consultant Adae Bajomo
STTR Captioner Amanda Bavin
Filming Rico Jacob Chace
Photography Holly Revell
Post-show talk host e-j scott

For the Barbican 

Toni Racklin Head of Theatre and Dance  
Simon Bourne Senior Production Manager  
Leanne Cosby, Jill Shelley, Angie Smith Producers  
Anna Dominian, Saxon Mudge Assistant Producers  
Kyle Bradshaw Marketing Manager 
Rebecca Moore Marketing Assistant 
Angela Dias Senior Communications Manager 
Ella Gold Communications Intern 
Freddie Todd Fordham Communications Officer 
Lauren Brown Creative Learning Producer (Theatre, Dance, Poetry) 
Jamie Maisey, Lee Tasker Production Managers   
Tony Brand, Steve Daly, Jane Dickerson, Martin Morgan, Stevie Porter Technical Managers   
Lucinda Hamlin, Charlotte Oliver Stage Managers  
John Gilroy, Nik Kennedy, Jamie Massey, Adam Parrott, Tom Salmon, John Seston, Chris Wilby, Lawrence Sills Technical Supervisors  
David Green PA to Head of Theatre  
Caroline Hall Production Administrator  
Andrew Pellett Production Assistant  
Kendell Foster, Burcham Johnson, Christian Lyons, Charlie Mann, Josh Massey, Matt Nelson, Neil Sowerby Technicians  
Heather Readdy Systems and Maintenance Technician  
Fiona Badgery, Gary Hunt, Nicola Lake Venue Managers  
Rebecca Oliver Access and Licensing Manager  
Harriet Davis, Rob Norris, Elizabeth Wilks Centre Managers (Delivery)  
Pheona Kidd Centre Manager (Planning)  
Mo Reideman Centre Manager (Health & Safety)  
Julian Fox, aLbi Gravener Stage Door 

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Production acknowledgments

Ebony Rose Dark: huge, massive thanks to CN for piano accompaniment; huge, massive thanks to Darren Evens for creating a gorgeous gold headpiece and for hairstyling; huge, massive thanks to Rachel Porter for makeup and costume change assistance; huge, massive thanks to Campbell X, Mzz Kimberley, Tabby Lamb, CN Lester, Felix Mufti and the Barbican.

Tabby Lamb: thanks to all trans people who have ever existed, especially all of the people working on this show; thanks to Paula Brett.

CN Lester: deepest possible thanks to everyone working on Transpose, both onstage and off – you’ve made pure magic, and it’s a privilege to work with you. Thanks always to everyone who’s supported, attended, performed for, and made Transpose better over the last ten years – this is for all of us.

Felix Mufti: thanks to Sophia Rose Powell; Shaun Powell; Luke Bryant; Neve Farrelly; Grace Grant; Iesha Palmer; Sam Vaughan; Sarah Jane Pritchard, and the rest of the city of Liverpool <3.

Kim Tatum: thank you to CN for playing the piano; thanks to my agents at the Production Exchange.

Campbell X: To the audience and those who came with love. To CN for creating this sacred space and the freedom to create. To Angie xxxx for her loving support. To Lu xxxx for the stories and going the extra mile. To Kendell Foster for his beautiful sensitivity and family vibes. xx To the tech team for their dedication, even during out of hours. To my ancestors for surviving long enough for me to be here. The Revolution Will Be LIVE! Asé.

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Ebony Rose Dark

Ebony Rose Dark is an all singing-all dancing, lip synching, story-telling, miming VIP/ Visually Impaired Cabaret/Performance Artist. She is known for her performances around disability, ableism, racism, and relationships within the LGBTQ+ community at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern’s Bar Wotever, which is where she first started back in 2012. She has become one of Bar Wotever’s longest-resident artists at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. Ebony Rose Dark has performed nationally and internationally including: The Movers, choreographed by Matthias Sperling and Carlos Motta in February 2013 at Tate Modern; plus performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Leeds City Art Gallery, and Lyric Hammersmith. She performed in The Show Must Go On, choreographed by Jérôme Bel, with Candoco Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells and around Paris in 2015 and 2016. Other venues include The Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol; The Cocoa Butter Club in London; Camden Fringe in London in 2015 and 2016; The Cultural Centre in Zagreb, Croatia; London Pride in 2018 and 2019; The Marlborough Pub and Theatre in Brighton; le Pop in Paris; ICA London; QEH at Southbank Centre; Cripping the Arts Disability Cabaret Symposium in Toronto, Canada; and at The Harbour Centre with the collective Brownton Abbey. Ebony Rose Dark has performed with David Hoyle in both of his performances: A Camp Laff and most recently at the Spire Church in Brighton in David Hoyle and Friends.

In autumn 2018 Ebony Rose Dark researched and developed their cabaret works with audio description, with the artist development support of Tarik Elmoutawaki, producer/artist at Brighton’s The Marlborough Pub and Theatre and also of Brownton Abbey. In Spring 2020 Ebony continued to develop their self-audio described cabaret for various projects such as Brownton Abbey, a LGBTQ+ POC-inclusive accessible event, Trans Creative, Trans Vegas and Quiplash/Unsightly Drag, focussing on accessible cabaret for LGBTQ+ visually-impaired people.


Felix Mufti

Felix Mufti is a Scouse activist, performer, writer and chaos-causer who loves to twerk and tell his frankly unhinged life stories through rhythm ‘n’ rap inspired spoken word. He is signed with The Queerhouse London and co-founded ‘Transcend Theatre’ where he writes and performs in authentic, usually unexplored stories of trans experience. His sell-out debut play, How to Kill a Rose, was rated 4 stars by North West End, and he is currently working on his next project, Be Gay, Do Crime. His main aim in all his work is to tell stories so unapologetic and raw that anyone of any background can relate, with their own vulnerability. We all laugh and cry the same, and Felix Mufti aims to make us do so together.


Mzz Kimberley, also known as Kim Tatum

Kim Tatum has become a regular in the new sitcom The Finellis, filmed in Berlin, and performed a cameo in Stud Life, directed by Campbell X. Other performance work includes: playing Zakia in Trans Scripts, which toured England; Joan in Rikki Beedle Blair’s production of Summer in London at Theatre Royal Stratford East; Dead and Breathing at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool and Albany Theatre in London; I Threw It, directed by Sean Linnen, at the Old Vic. Kim joined Lloyd Daniels and Sam Retford as a supporting lead in a new musical, Closets the Musical, at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester. Film includes two short films: Child of Polycritus directed by Lauren Jones and Still We Thrive directed by Campbell X. Kim joined the cast of an audio-fiction podcast directed by Mark Heywood, The End of the Line, with Dame Harriet Walter and Sarah Story, exploring the issues women face when deciding to have or not to have children. Kim is ambassador for ParaPride, highlighting the queer disabled community and AIDS memorial UK.

Awards and recognition include the ‘10/10’ award 2019 from The Naz Project, presented by Baroness Liz Barker in conjunction with HR Princess Tessy of Luxembourg at the House of Lords; the 2020 and 2021 LGBT Power List; and Kim was also the first trans woman to present the first LGBT+ award for the ‘Black British Theatre Awards’ for Sky TV. Kim is the director and founder of Mzz Kimberley’s LIFE, highlighting trans performers.


Campbell X

Campbell X is a writer and director who directed the award-winning queer urban romantic comedy feature film, Stud Life, which was voted by the Guardian as one of the top 10 Black British feature films ever made, and was featured in Vogue magazine as one of the best films to watch in 2020. Stud Life was also selected by the British Film Institute as one of the top 8 queer films to view.

Campbell X is one of the writers at the Royal Court for the My White Best Friend 2020 theatre series. Campbell X directed and produced the short film Des!re, a jazz meditation on the desire for masculinity and manhood in people who have been assigned female at birth; the documentary Visible, about reclaiming the history of UK Queer People of Colour. Campbell X is the writer and director of Still We Thrive, an intersectional balm to Black people revelling in our joy. Campbell X directed the award-winning TV web-series Different Girls, and is one of the directors of the transgender web-series Spectrum London. Campbell X is the co-founder with Neelu Bhuman of Wahala Film Fund, a completion fund for short films by and about QTIPOC people.


Tabby Lamb

Tabby Lamb is a non-binary writer and director based in East London. She is equally inspired by Carly Rae Jepson and Tennessee Williams, and strives to tell stories that explore the intersections between popular culture and politics. Their debut solo show Since U Been Gone, which Tabby Lamb wrote and performed, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019, after previewing at the Gate Theatre. The show was spectacularly received by audiences, with a glowing 4* write-up from the Guardian who called the play ‘bold, honest and swollen with love’. She is also an associate artist for Middle Child and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

They are currently under commission at Pentabus and 45North. Alongside their passion for writing, Tabby Lamb is a facilitator and runs creative arts projects for people from the LGBTQ+ community. They also founded Theatre Queers and can often be seen advocating for trans rights across their social media platforms and beyond.


CN Lester
Artistic Director

CN Lester is a multi-genre musician, author of the critically-acclaimed book Trans Like Me, and founder and artistic director of arts event, Transpose. CN Lester is a singer-songwriter, classical singer, deviser, and composer. They hold an interdisciplinary performance/research PhD on composer Barbara Strozzi; research interests include performance and composition, gender and music, and the history of gender and sexuality. They work internationally as a trans/queer/feminist educator, writer, speaker, and activist. Music and words at BBC Radio 3 & 4, The Arts Club, The Royal Exchange, Snape Maltings, Arcola Theatre, Royal Society of Literature, SBS, the Guardian, National Theatre Studio, and Sydney Opera House. They are currently working on their next album, and next book.


About Transpose

CN Lester founded Transpose in 2011, and has spent the eleven years since promoting and platforming the talents of trans artists (and our friends) through this cross-genre showcase event. Transpose appeared at venues throughout London, including Tate Modern and Hackney Attic, before finding a home at the Barbican in 2016; past performers include Rebekah Ubuntu, Danielle Braithwaite-Shirley, Jamie Hale, Holden Madagame, Travis Alabanza, Alex Bork, Roz Kaveney, San Alland, Andra Simons, Bethany Black, and Juliet Jacques.

CN has taken on the role of Artistic Director, bringing in a brand-new curator and creative team for Transpose: JOY.