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.
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)
Jo has written over 70 performed scripts which encompass every dramatic form, and her work has been performed all over the world.
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
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 Venice, Lucy’s Play, Playing With Fire, Ines de Castro, Light In The Village, War in America, The Tree Of Life, The Tree of Knowledge, God’s New Frock, The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven, An Apple a Day, Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost and Every One.
Plays based on other sources include: Heaven Bent, Hell Bound, Great Expectations, La Vie de Boheme, Tchaikovsky and The Queen of Spades, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Don Duardos, The Force Of Destiny, Faust Parts One and Two.
Translations include: The House With Two Doors, The Doctor of Honour, Schism in England, Life Is A Dream, Celestina.
Radio Plays include: Desert Places, Ending Time, Writing Home to Mother, The Leopard, Torquemada, Ain’t It Grand To Be Bloomin’ Well Dead, Spam Fritters, La Princesse de Cleves.
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.
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