We're in the Holy Angel Church Hall on the 'Height where over a dozen young Salford people are rehearsing for their play Pronoun, written by Evan Placey, as part of the National Theatre's Connections programme. Everyone is quite relaxed about the subject matter…
"I'm playing Dean which is the main part and he's transgender female to male" says Lauren Chetham. Nonchalantly.
"It's about a girl [Isabella], who wants to change into a boy [Dean], and her boyfriend isn't gay but he admits that he loves her, so they go in and out of a relationship" Lauren adds "She works at Tesco and starts saving up for the operation, which is £6,000, and starts the testosterone course at the beginning of the play. It's set in Salford and it's all centred around Dean's best mate's 50s-themed wedding."
This is probably the trickiest subject matter this group has encountered since annually showcasing their talents as part of the National Theatre's programme. Even beating last year's homophobic knife crime play Tomorrow I'll Be Happy (see previous Salford Star article - click here).
"We've met a translady who's helped us a lot, so it's not as bad as it was at first when we didn't know anything about it" Lauren explains "We've been doing loads of research, but the writer said he wants it to be entertaining not educating so that's how we're going to do it."
To add to the entertainment, James Dean looms large in the production, here played by Tom Carney, who, er, also plays Dean's mum…
"James Dean comes to Dean in these kind of dreamlike states and he's maybe encouraging her, or teasing her, to get something out of her that's still in there" says Tom "It's good because, as the mum as well, I'm very distraught that Dean wants to be a boy and has lost her daughter. She's seen Isabella grow up and now all of a sudden she wants to be a boy, so she doesn't know whether to disown her or continue as things are."
There's certainly plenty of material for the cast to get their acting teeth into but Tom says, "the aim is for people to enjoy it – there's love, romance, a lot of testosterone and high emotions…"
It should be one mixed up, muddled up, shook up world for the three nights Pronoun is playing at The Lowry during February and May.
By Evan Placey/Priduced by Interstage
Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th February/Sunday 4th May
The Lowry £7/£5
For tickets and further details see www.thelowry.com