I knew not of Kit Lascher, a new to Seattle, Genderqueer performer about to open in the key role of Elyot in Reboot Theatre Company’s upcoming Noël Coward’s PRIVATE LIVES. So join me in getting to know this fascinating individual, whom we welcome to our little Broadway on the Puget Sound.
David-Edward Hughes: Hi Kit! Tell us all about you, in a paragraph or so.
Kit Lascher: I’m a performer and writer. I write plays, songs, comics, and stories, and I focus on telling the stories of LGBT+ people. I am originally from southern California, where I worked in regional theatre and developed as a playwright. I trained as an actor and director at UCLA’s school of Theater, Film, and Television, where I produced my play with original music, Layla Levy Lay La, as part of the Ones festival. I moved to Seattle last fall, and have been collaborating with local artists and organizations on performance art, drag, and theater projects. I am currently working on a multi-genre piece about Joan of Arc, including a secret performance piece that will debut in Seattle this July.
DEH: And can you define your identity/orientation for our readers?
KL: My gender identity is something I’m still figuring out, but I do identify as genderqueer and more on the masculine side of things. I use they/them pronouns. Through my work on gender in society and in myself, I have developed an understanding of gender as a spectrum rather than a binary. As a performer, I tend to be cast in roles where gender either isn’t important or the character’s gender is purposefully in question. That is also how I feel about my gender in real life and in performance – I’m not quite sure where I fit, others aren’t quite sure where I fit, and that’s okay and I am most comfortable in that ambiguity.
DEH: What brought you to Seattle?
KL: I wanted to move somewhere that felt like home, and home to me is an active arts scene and LGBT+ community. I went to college in Portland, Oregon and lived there for a while after college, so I knew I loved the Pacific Northwest and wanted to return to this area.I moved here Fall 2016, and I’ve already met so many incredible people. I’m excited by all the different kinds of stories people are telling in Seattle.
DEH: Were you a Noël Coward fan prior to this?
KL: When I was in high school, I would read plays in the library at every possible opportunity. The first Noël Coward play I read was Blithe Spirit, and I loved its witty, gothic tone. I couldn’t believe someone had written a parlor room comedy with ghosts in it, and as a teenager I churned out a few blatant rip-off plays about ghosts myself. I loved Coward’s sparkling dialogue, and the sense that there was always something churning under the surface of his plays. I was re-introduced to Coward in a British Theater course in college, learned about his life in the context of gay arts and history, and fell in love all over again.
DEH: What do you like and hate about Elyot in Private Lives?
KL: I like what the other characters and Elyot refer to as his flippancy, which is really a defense mechanism in a cruel world. I adore his morbid sense of humor. Elyot’s a little bit of a goth, and that’s where he and I can really bond. What I hate about Elyot is linked to his flippancy – his insecurity, especially about his masculinity. He affirms traditional gender roles, perhaps clinging to them so tightly because the world questions his adherence to them.
DEH: Do you wish to pursue only male roles, female roles, or both, given your sexual fluidity?
KL : I am going to pursue the roles that interest me and the roles that scare me, regardless of the assigned gender of those characters.
DEH: Who are your heroes in life and in the arts?
KL: Frank O’Hara is my biggest hero in life and the arts. Somewhat of a Cowardian figure, O’Hara was a gay poet and playwright who worked as a curator at MOMA during the Abstract Expressionist period. I am inspired by his literary energy and his willingness to engage with different art forms and communities. My other heroes include Christopher Marlowe, Sarah Kane, and the aforementioned Joan of Arc.
I, like Elyot, have gothic tendencies and a lot of my heroes are dead. But in terms of people who are alive right now, I am constantly amazed by the work Taylor Mac, Anne Carson, Tony Kushner, and Sheila Callaghan create.
DEH: Do you come from a supportive family?
KL: My family is incredibly supportive, even believing in me more than I believed in myself at times. I’ve wanted to tell stories ever since I figured out how to communicate, and my parents always recognized that and encouraged me to express myself. I’ve had to work hard to find my voice and my community, but I’ve always had my family’s support and I am grateful for that.
DEH: Any last thoughts to share about the production and what makes it special?
KL: This cast and production team are so dedicated and willing to explore this play. I was nervous going into the project. After all, it may be a comedy but it still goes into some pretty brutal emotional territory. But every step of the way, we’ve been led by a fearless and sensitive director, who encourages us to explore the play’s depths but is always mindful of the physical and emotional safety of her actors. That kind of care and support means that we have grown as a cast. We know how to communicate with each other, and are able to delve into the complicated and dangerous world of Coward’s script.
PRIVATE LIVES by Reboot Theatre Company at Slate Theater, 815 Seattle Blvd S.
Seattle, WA 98134 runs May 5-20, 2017. Tickets ($15-$20) are on sale now. For more information, visit www.reboottheatre.org