Now also available as a lecture. See Talks page for more details
Drawing on inspiration from interviews with transgender and genderqueer individuals, Peterson Toscano weaves their experiences into the stories of transgender and gender-variant people from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Hilarious and moving, Toscano's one-person play deepens well-known (and lesser-known) Bible stories as he presents an array of characters with an array of genders.
- Over at his blog, Peterson shares the creative process behind Transfigurations.
- Peterson writes about Body Shame and Transfiguration.
- Watch Peterson's video presentation A Christian Speaks Out about Transgender Rights
- Have a listen to Peterson interviewed by Mila and Jayna of Trans-Ponder Podcast Episode 19 as he talks about the play and some of the Transgender Bible characters. You can listen through iTunes or directly here. )Peterson also returns to Trans-Ponder for Episode 102 and talks about what has happened since premiering and touring wtih the play.)
- Read a sermon inspired by Transfigurations by Shannon
- Want to know more? Check out the Hartford Advocate article and the WNPR Where We Live Segment featuring Peterson and transgender performance artist Scott Turner Schofield.
Society of Biblical Literature/American Academy of Religion Conference 2012, Chicago Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt School of Divinity, University of Massachusetts Amherst, The True Colors Conference, 8th Annual Trans Week at Yale University (Slifka Center for Jewish Life), Pacific School of Religion, University of British Columbia, University of Puget Sound, Transgender Day of Remembrance 2008 (Seattle, WA), Bard College, Tennessee Tech University, Lambeth Conference 2008, Eastern Mennonite University, Trans Faith in Color Conference 2011 The European Forum of LGBT Christians, Ikon (Belfast, Northern Ireland), Gender Odyssey, Warehouse #8 (Marsa, Malta,) UT Chatanooga, Northeatern University, 2009 Unity Conference at University of NC Chapel Hill, 2009 CA Transgender Leadership Summit, William Penn House (Washington, DC), Warren Wilson College, Creating Change Conference 2012, Wesley Theological Seminaryre
Critical Acclaim for Transfigurations--Transgressing Gender in the Bible
Bible-lovers, gender-transgressors of all sorts, people who love justice! Make haste to see Peterson Toscano's play Transfigurations as soon as possible! His biblical exegesis is insightful and accurate, and you will glean a whole new perspective painlessly because of his charming performance.
-Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, author of Omnigender, co-author of Transgender Journeys.
It is an absolute must-see for all...I haven't had my brain opened up and refilled so gracefully in a long, long time. My heart loved it too.
-Scott Turner Schofield, performance artist and writer
Peterson Toscano's work combines astute readings of the Bible with great story-telling and comedy. He offers interpretations of the texts and insights that even experienced biblical scholars haven't seen before. When portrayed by Toscano, Bible stories and characters come to life with wit, sympathy, and humor.
I attended a workshop with Peterson in which he announced that he was doing a show on the transgender people in the Bible. I thought to myself, Hey, I'm a biblical scholar, and I don't know any transgender folks in the Bible! Now I know! I applaud Peterson for bringing to the fore in this play a new way of looking at the Bible! Bravo! No, bravissimo! I had to look at my own sexual stereotypes and how I bring them to biblical interpretation!
-Michael Willett Newheart, Ph.D., Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Howard University School of Divinity
As a Jewish Studies scholar, educator, and activist for TBLG inclusion in Jewish communities, it was a thrill to see confident transgender characters from the Hebrew scriptures given flesh via the performance activism of Peterson Toscano –and, more importantly, to recognize through his performance that those characters fulfilled social roles in Jewish communities as gender variant folk. Bring Transfigurations to your shul and create an opportunity to dialogue about present-day transgender people in Jewish communities.
–Noach Dzmura, editor, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, and Director, Jewish Transitions.
Transfigurations is entertaining, heart-filled, and even funny. Beyond that it speaks the universal message that the quest for identity and a place in the world is the most important spiritual journey.
-Jayna Pavlin, Trans-Ponder
Peterson Toscano has challenged us all to open our minds and hearts to explore gender diversity in the Bible. As he used text and well-known people from the Scriptures, I was captivated while watching him, and was enlightened as he brought Biblical characters to life on the stage in front of me. Very insightful and thoughtful, I recommend this performance to anyone questioning how God views us as transgender men and women.
-Michael Brown, Executive Director, TransMentors International
Whenever people ask me about transgender issues in scripture, I inevitably start talking about examples from Peterson's work in Transfigurations. Not only is his work an important contribution to transgender education and awareness, but a delightful and entertaining one at that. Thank you, Peterson!
Chris Paige,Publisher, TransFaith Online
Transfigurations had me transfixed in my seat. We were transported from earliest Biblical times, through Peterson's brilliant, reflective, witty and delicious artistry, into the very front row of human history. This play sets the stage well for us toward transcending sexual prejudice in the future.
-Ellen Lewis, M.D. child & adult psychiatrist
As a 47 year old gay man, I've never really met or known anybody transgendered. I've been around drag queens, but I think that is different. Your show shed a whole new light on the subject for me and a better understanding and respect for transgender individuals. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from your show, but I was blown away. Your knowlege on the bible is amazing, and although I no longer follow the Catholic religion I was raised in, I found your stories interesting, refreshing and honest.
-Gregg, audience member at University of Tennessee Chattanooga
It's really great to see positive interpretations of gender transformations and difference in the biblical scriptures, given the amount of hurtful stuff that can be found out there in the religious world (not to say the non-religious are any nicer as a group). Even as an atheist, I was comfortable sitting in your audience, and not just comfortable - moved and inspired!
-Greg, student at UMass
Transfigurations shines a well researched light on gender-variant people from the Bible. I loved it. It made me laugh at times and cry at times and changed the way I saw things. Imagine that. A gay man teaching me about transgender people. Who knew?
-Dharma Kelleher, The Transgender Survival Guide
Toscano is an accomplished actor, who switched seamless between the different characters. I was very impressed with the way he created a believable world with the bare minimum of set and costume. His vocal abilities were also outstanding, each accent believable and authentic.
-Alex Jones, Blissfully Eccentric blog, Southampton, England
It is a tale sweetly told; a device that delivers unusual insights and interpretations in a manner which compels an audience to listen. It is simply stated, very far from “in your face” and it works beautifully...The performances were beautifully varied, each unique. Each is a reflection of the incredible talent of Toscano and his gift to present a tale with a different, perhaps radical, viewpoint in a way that compels attention. I left with a warm feeling and profound admiration.
-Vincent Astor, Triangle Journal, Memphis, TN
In one captivating night, Peterson provided material, resources, and space for trans-faith dialogues to happen. He helped bring together diverse communities, and captured a range of identities, experiences and backgrounds - both in his work and in the audience. Transfigurations was accessible and exciting for all who were able to attend; we've heard more rave reviews than we can count. Many people can't wait until we bring him back to perform the play again!
-Radical Intersections Consulting, Radically Challenging Intersections of Oppression, Victoria, British Columbia (radical.intersections(at)gmail.com)
"Transfigurations" is one of the most beautiful, moving, and sensitively researched and portrayed explorations of trans lives in the Bible that I have ever experienced. As an actor myself, I was struck by the quality of Peterson's research - both Biblically and in terms of his lengthy process of conversation with various people in the trans communities to inform his piece. I was also struck by the care and sensitivity with which he presented trans stories, whilst still acknowledging his own identity and places of privilege.
-Rev. Kerri Mesner, Vancouver, BC
Whilst I had heard snippets of this play, or precursors to it, the whole thing sent shivers up my spine. It is very different to Peterson's other works, the humour is more subtle although it is still there, but the pace of the story is totally different. It reminded me of the first time I heard him read out Low-Carb Jesus at a meeting. It made me stop in my tracks, made me think and it even made me weep.
This play was beautiful. Centered. Quiet. Honest. Thoughtful. Challenging. Hopeful.
-Anna, London (Seen at the Forum of Lesiban & Gay Christians, St. Albans, England, UK 2 May 2008)
-Toscano brings a deep reverence for the Biblical text with him into his exploration of gender transgression. This play is mesmerizing and compels the viewer to see well known Bible stories in a brave new light.
-Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor, House for All Sinners and Saints (ELCA) Author, Salvation on the Small Screen? 24 Hours of Christian Television
PETERSON! You were so amazing tonight! Thank you again so much for coming to UMass and performing that show for that first time! It was truely amazing! I have just been hearing the best best best things from everyone about it!
-Morgan, event organizer, The Stonewall Center at UMass Amherst
His exegesis is excellent and as a part of his production he describes what led to his portrayals at the end of the play. If you get a chance to see this, it is a MUST GO!
Peterson Toscano was one of Greenbelt’s runaway successes, so much in demand that the organisers managed to find two* extra slots for him after word got round and the queues got longer...Toscano worked through various personae, among them “the Revd Dr Meadows”, preaching on Sodom and Gomorrah, “God in smiting mood”. But the most endearing thing about the show was Toscano speaking in his own person: very likeable, very disarming, and so very, very funny.
...an extra session is squeezed in for Peterson Toscano, a theatrical performance artist who uses comedy to explore difficult issues; he’s proved very popular over the weekend and punters have been turned away in droves from his other appearances. Peterson runs through highlights of his previous play ‘Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House’ (a hilarious take on surviving a Christian residential program to save people from homosexuality), and his current one ‘The Re-Education of George W Bush’, as well as his newest ‘Transfiguration’. He has the audience in stitches for the whole hour.
-Helen O'Sullivan writing for eFestsivals.co.uk
This performance will challenge your values, prejudices and misconceptions. Peterson offers an alternative to the one-dimensional view of some of our favourite biblical characters. The vivid mental picture of Joseph in a frock will stay with me whenever I read his story!
With sensitivity and compassion, plus a dollop of joyful anarchy, Toscano began to unlayer why Joseph might have been so despised by his brothers. As a Christian lesbian, even I felt thrown off balance to start with, but there was a clear sense amongst the Greenbelt audience that Toscano was once again gently challenging us to examine bible stories many of us have experienced in very fixed ways since childhood.
Want to read an exciting new translation of the New Testament (including the Gospel of Thomas)? Check out John Henson's Good As New! A Radical Retelling of the New Testament
Jesus said: When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner...and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, then you will enter the kingdom (from the Gospel of Thomas)
Transfigurations--The Graphic Novel
written by Peterson Toscano and Designed by Jayna and Mila Pavlin.
Poster credit: Christine Bakke / Photo credit: Lori D AZ
Transfigurations graphic novel: Jayna & Mila Pavlin
* Actually Greenbelt added one extra section to the two Peterson was already slated to present