Guest Blog: Theodora van der Beek

In this blog post, Theodora van der Beek writes about her character, The Bearded Lady, coming out as a cis female and what that means in our society. Don’t miss The Adventures of the Bearded Lady on April 4-5 at 7:15pm.

Get your tickets here. 

The Adventures of the Bearded Lady is about a bearded lady with a shameful secret – her beard is stuck on with glue. Struggling to find a place in this world she travels over land and sea, trying on different guises as she goes. The show is about loss, heartbreak, and the pathway to accepting yourself as you are. A misguided understanding of what it means to be female in a patriarchy had persuaded her a beard was a necessity for her to ‘be someone’ and be loved.

I recently watched a video where a mother discussed how her son had solemnly come out to her as straight; in a way this is the bearded lady’s coming out as cis female, in a world that forces those who don’t want to have to, to decide what gender they are. I believe unravelling these preconceived ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman will benefit everyone, and the future will be more fluid and happier for all, even those who already fit solidly into society’s definition of what they are.

Like all my shows it’s also about storytelling and theatre – how we consume through film and TV as well as how we present ourselves to the world. In the past, art was done by talented men painting powerful male leaders and beautiful women; those were the stories that came out of famous art. That limits all of us in different ways – men must be powerful, women must be beautiful and artists are male. Men must make money and women must make babies. What if I want to be powerful and beautiful and make money and have babies and be an artist? What then?

You can’t have everything so I’ve started with being an artist, because in this day and age, even if you don’t have a beard, you still can.

This picture was taken by artist Imogen Webb, who is creating a series of portraits of women, to recreate the grand portraits traditionally of important men that you might find in stately homes and other listed buildings.