#PersonOfChange: Milo Longenecker of ‘The Fantastical Dangerous Journey of Q’
It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to become my own representative on stage.
Breaking tradition and challenging normative thinking is the highest goal of Rebel Playhouse, currently presenting a daring and accessible new musical for young audience centered around Q, a student who is questioning their gender as they must chose between the boys or the girls soccer team. The Fantastical Dangerous Journey of Q is garnering fascination and many fans. Today we showcase actor Milo Longenecker (they/them/he/him) who plays the titular role.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Since I was very young. My dad played guitar and sang and I learned that from him, started writing my own songs. I also did community theater and took dance classes. I had the fortunate experience of being exposed to the performing arts growing up, so I was able to see myself in that world from an early age. To realize that was where I wanted to be.
When was the first time you saw yourself represented on stage or film?
If there were an easy answer to this question, I don’t think I would be where I am today. I was becoming really miserable in the industry before I came out as trans/non-binary. It felt like there was a failure matrix set up against me. No one could say exactly why, but everyone around me, agents, casting directors, teachers, were telling me something wasn’t quite right or ready about me. I was trained and skilled and no one cared because I was hovering behind myself in my performances. Keeping parts of me away, in service of what felt like my own safety and professionalism. Since coming out, I have showed up to my work in a completely new way. I had no idea this would happen. I was terrified it would end my career. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to become my own representative on stage. A playwright named Anna Jastrzembski gave me the opportunity to function as an actor/dramaturg on her play Skin Flick City this year and that was a really beautiful act of representation. I got to say “this is the effect I want to have on this work, this is what I can bring of me to this world”, and actually see those contributions take root in the text and the direction and the overall collaborative effort toward a performance of a trans person by a trans person.
What is ‘The Fantastical Dangerous Journey of Q’ about?
A kid who outsmarts mundane, oppressive binaries with their florid imagination and pureness of heart, even in the face of self-destructive ideations, well-meaning adults, and mean-mouthed kids coping with their own secret traumas.
How did you prepare for the character of Q? How close is this character to you?
Q is very close to home for me! I was a weird kid in elementary school. I would rather read fantasy novels than socialize on the playground. I got along with adults. I dressed like a grandpa going for a power walk (it was the 90s.) I had a few friends, but always knew no one was like me. I remember so distinctly the moment in 4th or 5th grade where I realized everyone was making friends with “other boys” or “other girls” and I consciously decided to gender-up. To live as a girl so I could be…a person. That felt like the requirement. Q is in elementary school in 2018 in New York City, so they have access to the possibility that there are other choices. Non-choices, even. They won’t pick (or be thrust onto) a side. And they have Nix, a non-binary adult mentor and friend. That is HUGE. I didn’t realize I could be non-binary until I met a non-binary person. But that wasn’t until my mid 20s, after a long adolescence of suffering I didn’t understand. I wish every kid a Nix, and parents willing to encourage any relationship that makes their child feel seen and understood.
What piece of advice can you share with a non-binary artist trying to build a career?
Be as many versions of you as you need to be along the way. Don’t let anyone tell you your identity is fixed, or that something you want is contingent upon staying the same. Your superpower is transformation, so keep transforming. Teach freedom by being free.
What can you tell us about the rest of the cast and the creative team?
Most of them are wonderful, kind, cisgender people using their platform and privilege to get this trans story told. It has been a pleasure being directed by Sarah Sutliff, who is bright and silly and always gets the job done, music director Christina Bottley and Composer Dax Dupuy are exemplary at their jobs, playwright Ric Averill is imaginative and open-hearted, and the cast is a joy to perform with and even more fun behind the scenes. But I especially want to acknowledge the talent, bravery, and emotional generosity of the trans collaborators on this project. Adelaide who plays Nix for being intuitive, giving, and a shining star in her own right, Mak Morin our sweetheart dramaturg, Nat DiMario our fearless stage manager, and Josie Cohen our brilliant lighting designer. Hire them!
What is next for you?
My ongoing project is Sacred Circle Theatre Company, a queer community challenging theatrical traditions via a body-and-identity-forward approach to theatre-making. My partner Raymond Arnold and I founded Sacred Circle in 2016 in Bushwick where we live, but we perform all over the city. Follow us everywhere @sacredcircletheatre to see what we’re cooking up for 2019. I am also writing a play called Suck & Blow that reimagines the King Arthur legend and the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal through the lens of contemporary queer culture, so look out for readings and workshops of that coming soon. Of course there are other collaborations brewing, but I’m not at liberty to speak on any of them just yet.
If you happen to be in New York between now and Sunday, December 16th don’t miss Milo in ‘The Fantastical Dangerous Journey of Q’ at the Theater at the 14th Street Y (344 E 14th St at 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003). To learn more visit rebelplayhouse.org
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Previously on #PersonOfChange: