GPC would like to warn readers this profile discusses themes of transphobia and homophobia.
Martin began writing for Drama in 2016 while also starting an MA in Dramatic Writing at Central Saint Martins. They are a writer for Stage, Television, Radio and Digital Media. Their work is linked to the social paradigms associated with the representation of transgender people and contesting their acceptance in mainstream media. In this effect Martin questions with their work the impact of media to the psyche of media consuming people.
There is a genre of films and theatre play stories called "Fish out of Water", wherein a person who is odd or weird is thrown into an environment that is homogenised. The extant theatre and film plays often have transgender stories in this category. In affect, the categorisation infers the assumption that the subconsciously intended audience is predominantly non-transgender.
Martin's work is a reaction to the assumption. They noticed that the assumption leads to a pattern where most of the endings to these stories are tragic, be it suicide or murder. The hypothesis is, to a community of non-transgender people, not having that lived-experience makes the concept of being transgender very foreign and perhaps unbearable. It all makes for exciting entertaining stories, but trauma-inducing to people whose identity the story effects.
Martin in acknowledgment of this pattern depicts transgender characters who survive and thrive. To the community of trans people, if a film is marketed to have a transgender lead character, the community will want to watch it. If these stories are created without the acknowledgement of the trauma, inherent in depicting suicidal trans persons who meet their demise, it serves no purpose to the community it represents.
An interactive game; Nemo Martin wrote the game’s script and coded the interactive elements with Jade Leamcharaskul, who also created the score and graphics. The project does well to illustrate the experiences of a non-binary person using female and male toilets in a public setting, as the gamer is a non-binary character. A non-binary person is someone who identifies neither as female or male.
The games plays out like the common ‘choose-your adventure’ model. At different points in the story the player has to make a choice, and the storyline tree-branches from there. The first setting is outside two doors, a male washroom door painted blue and a female washroom door painted red. The player is told, "you are transgender". The character is prompted to pick a door, "M" or "F". [Spoiler Alert] In all endings, Martin’s script writing describes the anxiety the character faces and the storylines all end similarly. This story is a tragedy.
This Strange, Binary World hinges on the possibility of worst case scenarios in the everyday experiences of a non-binary person, and what anxiety it induces. One of Martin’s earlier works, it does not glean over the transgender experience as idealistically positive by presenting an overtly happy ending without the trauma. And many pleasant surprises find its way to us.
“That’s when you see it. The fear
She thinks you’re a man.
She is scared of men intruding in her safe space
You do not know her fears.
But you can guess.
1 in 4 women, you think.
You can’t come back here.”
-- A piece of the internal monologue from the branch of story when you go to the women’s bathroom.
Martin’s skills in dramatic writing draws an emotional response as players are put in the perspective of this character where there is no solution, but clear in showing a real person capable of empathy as well.
GPC would like to warn players This Strange, Binary World contains content of transphobia, homophobia, violence and references to rape.
Pitch and Cologne takes the way Shakespearean cross-dressing has been performed as farcical or caricature and re-invents the genre to be instead truthful and serious. It asks the question, ‘had these characters made a choice in their dress as an expression of their identity’?
The play is loosely based on the real life of an unnamed transgender person living in the 19th century whose story is similar to the character George. It follows George pretending to be his brother John who was away at sea as a Naval surgeon. In George’s whole life he’s been denied the acceptance to be a surgeon like his brother. All is well until John appears again and George has to go to back to being Juliet, his dead identity. The story unfolds with much whimsy and triumph! The works seeks to indicate and vocalise the historical existence of transgender communities before the 60s and 70s.
Martin’s process is linked to realities. The old writing saying goes there are only 7 stories to tell. But the way Martin tells them is different because of what they experience. In that way Martin’s work is a subversion through perspective. There is a realm of concern to writers because of the general understanding media subconsciously affectly effect people’s impression of cultured peoples. Martin works towards better representation.
Further reading! Nemo Martin’s extended CV includes The Sound of My Voice a radio play of 10 minutes along the theme of racialisation through accents. They’re also a mediator for a podcast, Bread and Barricades, where guests discuss the connections between the social issues iterated by Victor Hugo of Les Miserables and how they relate to today’s revolutionary movements like BLM. Martin is active and based in London.
Contact Nemo Martin @zeus_japonicus
Profile by Bertha Lee
12th Jan, 2018