UrbanArias' As One : An LGBT- Positive Tonic to the Mess That Is Stonewall

09/29/2015 04:40 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2016

In this fall season of LGBT arts community conflict swirling around Roland Emmerich's mass-market historical fiction, Stonewall, it's my pleasure to announce a positive production of interest to the LGBT, and, particularly, trans community.

UrbanArias, Washington DC's contemporary opera company, is about to produce a really interesting and timely piece called AS ONE. It's about Hannah, a transgender protagonist and her journey from confused adolescent to self-actualized and happy adult. Written by composer Laura Kaminsky, noted librettist Mark Campbell and acclaimed transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed, AS ONE received rave reviews at its premiere in New York last year. UrbanArias is proud to give the piece its DC debut.

The performance will be at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in DC on H St., NE. The dates are October 3, 4, 9 and 10. AS ONE is 75 minutes long, and in English, so for those of you put off by classical opera which is usually performed in Italian or German, this will be much easier to digest.

AS ONE is the first opera to take on the subject of a transgender person. It is based in part on the experiences of Kimberly Reed, a transgender filmmaker of some note, who has been featured a number of times on television programs such as Oprah and CNN. Kim was also recently profiled by The New York Times, and here is her own video essay -- it is six minutes long, and is essentially about the creation of AS ONE and its recent performance in Utah.

Here is a positive review, also in The New York Times, from last fall's world premiere.

AS ONE's music is beautiful and accessible. The story is compelling, and is not just meant for an LGBT audience; if you have ever felt yourself to be an outsider, this piece will resonate with you. And if you're not sure that you would enjoy an opera, you should know that UrbanArias was founded five years ago to appeal precisely to people who don't think opera is their thing. Every piece they do is in English, relevant and short. They've made hundreds of converts to the art form through their work. If the word "opera" makes you nervous, imagine it more as a piece of lyric theater, and you'll be right on the money. In addition to being accessible and understandable, the opera is also visually very stimulating (there's an original film by Kimberly Reed featured in the production).

From the producers:

At UrbanArias, we take our role as artists very seriously. We know that we have a public platform, and we use it -- in this case, to advocate for transgender rights. We know that we open hearts and minds with our productions, and that the performing arts are often among the most compelling media through which to promulgate social change, because of our reach across social and political boundaries and because of our ability to cut through the daily noise and focus the conversation on what is essential.

AS ONE illustrates the challenges faced by transgender people as well as their ultimate triumphs; it also showcases love and our common humanity. It's a powerful piece of theater, and well worth seeing.

I highly recommend this performance from a professional class of artists who are out to celebrate life and not simply make it palatable to a white male audience, as was Emmerich's intent. My friend, Kim Reed, has produced another standout production. Enjoy!

You can find additional information on their website.