Renata Carvalho (BR)
‘Look at me, a trans woman. Just touch me'.
The personal is political in Manifesto Transpofágico, the solo performance by theatre maker Renata Carvalho. She presents herself, in her own words, as ‘an experiment, a showcase, a guinea pig’. Carvalho is transgender and makes herself extremely vulnerable: ‘Does anyone want to touch me?’
Run time 55 minutes
In the performance, she talks about the history and representation of the trans body and then steps into the audience, naked except for a pair of knickers. By literally exposing herself, she wants to reassure her audience: ‘Look, I'm not scary.’
Carvalho calls herself a ‘transpolog’, someone who studies the ‘anthropology of the transperson’ and confronts the world with crucial questions about the social construction of ‘gender’. She has been a theatre maker since 1996 and has previously made a number of performances about her position as a transwoman, such as Inside me lives another (2012) and Me travesti (2015). In 2020, she received death threats after the Brazilian adaptation of Jo Clifford's Jesus, Queen of Heaven, in which she played the role of Jesus as a transperson.
Since her own transition in 2007, Carvalho has worked with transpersons as a volunteer. She is a human rights and LGBT activist, focusing on transsexuals and transvestites. In Brazil, she founded the Movimento Nacional de Artistas Trans (MONART) and the T Collective, the first artistic collective made up entirely of trans artists.
Renata's personal story is political: her native country Brazil is an extremely ‘transphobic country’. Brazil has the highest percentage of murders of transpersons in the world – as much as 40% of the total number worldwide. The number of suicides committed by transpersons is also shockingly high. Transgender people (and other minorities) are rejected by their families, driven from their homes, sometimes forced into prostitution, exposed to insecurity and violence. Socially, they are in a way dead. But in her eyes, this death also carries the possibility of a rebirth.