Press room

A spirit of hopefulness: Transpose at the Barbican sees leading trans artists look to the future

CN Lester playing on the piano and singing

CN Lester
Transpose: The Future

Transpose returns to The Pit for its third edition this December, as multi-talented performers and leading lights from the trans community come together to look to the future. Transpose: The Future is curated by CN Lester and directed by Kate O’Donnell and all three performances are BSL-interpreted.

Featuring artists from across the generations collaborating in performances of opera, poetry, video art and electronica, this show considers, in a celebratory atmosphere, what gender, identity and individuality might look like tomorrow.

The cast is Daniel Brathwaite-Shirley, Robin Gurney, Jamie Hale, CN Lester, Holden Madagame and Rebekah Ubuntu.

Transpose: The Future is the final event to open as part of our 2018 season, The Art of Change, which explores how artists respond to, reflect and can potentially effect change in the social and political landscape.

CN Lester is an academic, writer, musician, and leading LGBTI activist. Author of Trans Like Me, co-founder of the UK's first national queer youth organisation, they curate the trans art event Transpose, and work internationally as a trans and feminist educator and speaker. Their work has featured on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, SBS, The Guardian, ABC, The Independent, Newsnight, New Internationalist, and The Toast. A singer-songwriter and a classical performer, composer and researcher, CN specialises in early and modern music, particularly by women composers. CN has performed gigs and concerts with United Nations He4She, Bath Festival, Snape Maltings, and Tate Modern, amongst others.

Kate O’Donnell is an award-winning transgender performer, activist, theatre and cabaret maker. In 2016 she founded Trans Creative, a trans Theatre company that aims to be trans led and trans positive and help trans people tell their own stories. Her work is autobiographical, entertaining and political, showing pride and strength in being transgender and includes the award-winning Big Girl’s Blouse with its successful twitter campaign #StandByYourTrans and cabaret performances, Hayley and Me, A Short History of My Tits and No Pride. With support from Arts Council England she is currently touring her critically acclaimed one woman show You've Changed following its preview at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017.

In her role as Artistic Director of Trans creative she curated Manchester’s first trans arts festival Trans Vegas in which 50 trans voices were heard and was part of the Manchester International Festival opening event ‘What is The City but its people?’. Other credits include: Feste in Twelfth Night (The Royal Exchange) Boy Meets Girl (BBC), Hush (Lift Festival/The Royal Exchange) and Mum, a short film co-created with Anne Marie O'Connor (BFI and winner of best LGBT Short film London independent film festival), Sounds Like She (BBC Radio 3 shortlisted for Arias 2017 award) and Like a Girl (BBC Radio 4). Other awards include: Brighton Fringe LGBTQ Award, LGBT Foundation Hero Award (all 2015). Kate regularly presents on radio and speaks on panels such as Southbank’s Women of the World Festival and recently made a guest appearance on the Guilty Feminist podcast.


Notes to editors
Jamie Hale participates in an Open Lab from 8-11 October culminating in an industry sharing on 11 October. Entitled NOT DYING, the piece investigates what it means to be dying and living as a disabled person in the world, shifting from a personal illness narrative to an exploration of issues including social care, assisted suicide, mental illness and wheelchair access. The Barbican’s Open Lab programme supports the development of emerging and practicing artists, giving artists the chance to experiment in a working theatrical space without the expectation of a final product.

Please note the pronouns for Transpose artists are as follows:

CN Lester: they
Kate O'Donnell: she
Rebekah Ubuntu: they
Daniel Brathwaite-Shirley: they
Jamie Hale: they
Robin Gurney: they
Holden Madagame: he


Transpose: The Future
CN Lester
Curated by CN Lester
Directed by Kate O’Donnell
Thu 6–Sat 8 Dec 2018 (3 performances, all BSL-interpreted)
The Pit
1 hour 30 minutes/no interval
£15 plus booking fee
Age guidance: 16+ (contains adult themes)
Press night: Thu 6 Dec 2018, 7.45pm
Post-show talk: Fri 7 Dec 2018 (free to same-day ticket holders)
Weekend Lab: Sat 1 & Sun 2 Dec 2018, 10.30am–4.30pm (CN Lester and Kate O'Donnell lead an intensive workshop in response to Transpose: The Future)

Presented by the Barbican