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Sunday, 26 April 2020

Jo Clifford, Writer, Performer, and Trans Rights Leader


I met Jo Clifford at the Candlelight vigil for trans people outside the Scottish Parliament during December 2019. I talked to her e.g. about the Gender Recognition Act, and she then gave an inspiring speech. She has since been pro-active in Brazil.

                                                                  SALTIRE SOCIETY

Jo Clifford was born in North Staffordshire in 1951 where she was raised as a boy.
This entailed an enforced separation from her mother at the age of 7 when she was sent to boarding school; the resulting trauma was intensified at the sudden death of her mother when she was 12.
She discovered her vocation for theatre when she played women’s roles in school plays. That was when it became clear to her she was not male. The terror, shame and confusion of this realisation in a completely ignorant, hostile, and prejudiced environment unfortunately  became  associated  with  the  theatre.  It  took  her twenty years to recover enough to find her voice as a theatre writer (with “Losing Venice” in 1985) and another twenty years after that to re-discover her vocation as an actress and performer (with “The Gospel According To Jesus Queen of Heaven” in 2009)

                                                                       PLAYWRIGHT'S STUDIO

Jo Clifford

Jo has written over 70 performed scripts which encompass every dramatic form, and her work has been performed all over the world.
                                                                SCOTTISH BOOK TRUST
Jo loves running writer’s workshops, and is hugely experienced at doing it. She has led writer’s workshops with the Traverse, the Festival Hub, Playwrights’ Workshop, in secondary schools; in Valencia, in Singapore, in Mumbai, and has designed and led Masters’ courses in Playwriting at Queen Margaret University. Besides playwriting, she can teach workshops that focus on radio writing, on gender, on bereavement. In fact, on anything you care to mention
                               TEATRO DO  MUNDO
Jo is a writer, performer, poet and teacher based in Edinburgh.
She is the author of about 80 plays, many of which have been translated into various languages and performed all over the world.
Her original plays include: Losing VeniceLucy’s PlayPlaying With FireInes de CastroLight In The VillageWar in America, The Tree Of Life, The Tree of Knowledge, God’s New FrockThe Gospel According to Jesus Queen of HeavenAn Apple a Day, Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost and Every One.
Libretti include: Ines de Castro (music: James McMillan), Anna (music: Craig Armstrong), The Magic Flute (adapted from Mozart), Hansel and Gretel (adapted from Humperdinck).
She is an Associate Artist of Chris Goode and Company.
Her transition from John to Jo has enabled her to become an actor and performer. Performances include “God’s New Frock”, “Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost”, “The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven”, “High Heels Aren’t Compulsory”.
Work in 2015 includes the opening of a new dramatisation of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (Sell A Door theatre Company); revivals of “Great Expectations” (Studio Life, Tokyo, and Dundee Rep); “Anna Karenina” (Manchester Royal Exchange and West Yorkshire Playhouse), “Ines de Castro The Opera” (Scottish Opera), and “The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven” (Edinburgh festival fringe at Summerhall).
In 2016 Jo will be performing a new play she has co-written with Chris Goode for the National Theatre of Scotland. She will be perfuming her “Jesus Queen of Heaven” at Queer Contact in Manchester and Outburst Arts Festival in Belfast.
Chris Goode and Company are mounting a new production of "Every One" in March 2016 in Battersea Arts Centre.

                                         Nick Hern Books



Almost a decade after it was first performed Jo Clifford says her play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven is still provoking "extraordinary violence and hatred but at the same time very intense love".
The one-woman play which portrays a transgender Christ has most recently toured Brazil, where it has become the "most talked-about" show there sparking both strong protests and devotion.
Clifford says everyone involved in the Brazilian production has "really suffered".

                                              IN MEMORIUM SYVIA RIVERA



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