Part stand-up comedy, part “teen zine vomit confessional,” They, Themself and Schmerm is the New York City-based trans performer’s personal tale of being adopted into a Midwestern religious family, trained to be a girl, molested, and plagued by the question, “How do I become a man and do I even want that?”
Becca Blackwell recently performed They, Themself and Schmerm at Under the Radar in New York to critical acclaim. “[Blackwell is] a seasoned artist who’s smart enough to know that an honest personal performance can pack a political and consciousness raising wallop,” exclaims BOMB Magazine. “Blackwell flirts with and confides in a crowd that can’t get enough,” writes New York Theatre Review. “It would have taken me two years of focus groups to make being molested that funny,” declares playwright and director Young Jean Lee.
A “tall, strong, he-she-schmerm ginger,” Blackwell prefers the pronoun “they,” existing between genders, and uses “schmerm” wryly to mean, in her words, “a schmear of gender...the sound of gender clapping and then clasping its own hand.”
Blackwell’s last performance in San Francisco was in Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show in 2014. Over their two-decade stage career, Blackwell has worked collaboratively with playwrights, directors and ensembles including Lee, Half Straddle, Jennifer Miller of Circus Amok, Richard Maxwell, Sharon Hayes, Theater of the Two Headed Calf and Lisa D’Amour. They, Themself and Schmerm is directed by Elena Heyman. Blackwell is a 2015 recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award.