Transgender Victorians on Stage

In this episode, Quinn’s guests are playwright Shualee Cook; director/producer/performer Theo Motzenbacker; and writer/director/performer Dean Grosbard, all of whom are helping bring to life Shualee’s remarkable play of trans experience in the 1890’s, Cercle Hermaphroditos, inspired by memoirs from the time.

Cercle Hermaphroditos is available to read on NPX, the New Play Exchange at and has had staged readings in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. A new staged reading in New York may be announced soon, and we’ll update this page with any information on that we receive.

The TGNC in Theatre Facebook group mentioned on the show is “a place for (in)visible trans, nonbinary, gender non-conforming, genderqueer and genderfluid theatre makers of all races, religions, identities and abilities, to connect about our challenges, successes, questions, and collaborations.” It can be found here.

Theo Motzenbacker is a director, producer, and occasional performer in Los Angeles. He produced Company Creation Festival, a devised work incubator, at Son of Semele for several years, has directed around town, and is currently expanding a fictional solo show, Spice Up Your Sex Life til it Burns. His most recent, all-consuming project was completing a master’s degree in social work.

Dean Grosbard (he/him) is a director, performer, and writer. His directing projects include The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window by Lorraine Hansberry, Dream Inc. by Emily Brauer Rogers, and Son of A Man by Cooper Bates. His solo show Big Tits 69 was presented at Son of Semele’s Solo Creation Fest and the Asheville Fringe Festival. Dean is also the Associate Artistic Director of The Vagrancy, a theatre company in Los Angeles. Dean’s goal as an artist is to uplift stories mainstream theater can often ignore. His experiences with disability and gender inform that practice.

Shualee Cook (she/her) writes plays as a way of asking questions and figuring out possible answers within a community. She is the recipient of 2021 Chesly/Bumbalo Award, The 2020 RAC Artist Fellowship, and the 2019 Parity Commission. She has been a resident playwright in the Confluence Regional Writers Project, Stage Left Theatre, and Tesseract Theatre. Readings and performances include Cercle Hermaphroditos, And Certain Women, Earworm, and An Invitation Out.

Below are photos of some of the masks used in one of the readings for the masked ball scene:

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