News: New musical adaptation of The Danish Girl in the works

April 22, 2021
News: New musical adaptation of The Danish Girl in the works

New Theatre Peterborough have announced that they will host a workshop of new musical adaptation of The Danish Girl from 26 to 30 April, with writers Katie Lam and Alex Parker, plus director Tinuke Craig.

Based on the David Ebershoff book published in 2000, and the Academy Award-winning 2015 film starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, the adaptation tells a fictionalised account based on the real life of Lili Elbe, who begins as Danish painter Einar Wegener, married to fellow painter Gerda Wegener and becomes one of the first people to undergo gender confirmation surgery.

Workshops will be led by American transgender actress L Morgan Lee as Lili alongside Laura Pitt-Pulford as Gerda, as well as Sharif Afifi, Kelly Agbowu, Jo Eaton-Kent, Siubhan Harrison, Chloe Hart, Chris Jenkins, Freddie King and Harrison Knights.

The project is also be supported by consultants Jake and Hannah Graf, two of the UK’s leading trans voices, and Harry Williams, one of the creatives and founders of the Trans Voices Company.

Writer Lam says, “Lili’s story spoke to us. We felt we could do something special with it and it would be well suited to our writing style. Alex reached out to David Ebershoff back in 2018; he took a chance on us, and agreed to let us turn it into a musical. Not only that, he has been incredibly generous in spirit about the whole project and given us substantial artistic license with the piece.

Inspired by discussions with our consultants and cast, we are committed to telling a joyful trans story. Lili of course struggled through the traumas inherent in transition and did not survive her final operation. But for decades she was supported, accepted and loved by her wife, siblings, parents, friends and wider community. She found a surgeon who believed and understood her, and was able to make her emotional reality a physical reality; and all a hundred years ago.”

L Morgan Lee says, “I never would have guessed, in the middle of a pandemic, I’d be in my apartment in New York on Zoom with a creative team in London discussing a new musical. I’ve dreamed of getting my hands on this kind of material in a show but the reality is Black women, and even more specifically Black, trans women are so rarely, if ever, even considered. This creative team has taken the time to truly see the artists they work with. They are committed to telling this story using not only a trans woman to play Lili but a variety of trans people in many of the other roles throughout the show with a cast that reflects the world we live in. The process has been such a testament to the potential of where our industry has the potential to go and I’m so honoured to be a part of that.”

The Danish Girl will be directed by award-winner Tinuke Craig whose credits include Aisha (the black album), Crave, Hamlet For Young Audiences), Cinderella, The Color Purple and many more. In 2015 to 2016 Tinuke was the Gate’s Associate Director and she is currently an Artistic Associate at the Lyric Hammersmith.

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