Evan Placey's Pronoun is a play about a transgender teenager, exploring the impact on friends and family of an individual's decision to undergo gender transition. The play was commissioned as part of the 2014 National Theatre Connections Festival and premiered by youth theatres across the UK, including a performance at the National Theatre in July 2014.
The play's main character, Dean (formerly Isabella), is a transgender male – meaning Dean was born a girl, and is biologically female, but identifies as male, and is in transition to becoming male. The play is about Dean's experience of that transition and his relationships with his friends, his boyfriend and his family. He has started hormone treatment and is binding his chest while trying to save up for chest surgery. He has chosen his new name, inspired by his hero, James Dean, who takes on physical form in Dean's private fantasy world. He has asked everyone around him to treat him as the young man that he feels himself to be. But, while his friends are generally supportive, his mum and dad are struggling as they try to understand Dean's experience for themselves. Dean's sister, Dani, is struggling with the loss of a sister. And Dean's boyfriend, Josh, is struggling to make sense of a confused welter of feelings.
In an introduction accompanying the play in the volume Girls Like That and other plays for teenagers (Nick Hern Books, 2015), Placey writes: 'While Dean’s transition provides the structural spine for the story, for me, it’s really a story about Dean and Josh. It’s a love story. It’s a romantic-comedy. For a play about gender, I felt the play’s form had to somehow play with gender too. When researching the play I ran a workshop with a youth theatre in Ipswich. I went in wearing make-up just to see what would happen. Nothing happened. When I asked the group half way through if anyone noticed my makeup, about half had but hadn’t thought much more about it. Which was really refreshing. Perhaps contradictorily, they were less open to the idea of one of their friends being transgender. They didn’t care if I didn’t conform to gender norms because I was some random guy doing a drama workshop. But they cared if it was someone closer to home. And so that’s when I decided the play had to be a love story. And I hope, by the end of the play, we’re all rooting for Dean and Josh to get back together.'