Audiences Get a Different Point of View from Trans Views

What if you looked into the mirror, and did not see yourself there? This question is being posed by the URI Feinstein Providence Campus Arts and Culture Program (in conjunction with the Rhode Island State Council of Churches) with an original work by Frank V. Toti Jr. titled Trans View. It is an oral history project, with history that hits home as it is compiled from interviews by Rhode Islanders in the trans community. The piece has been on tour, and will close at URI’s Providence campus.

I was excited to see this show, as seeing original work is my favorite way to spend a night at the theater. Trans Views did not disappoint; it is the type of theater I love to see — stripped down and all about the words. And, of course, the stellar acting doesn’t hurt.

Six interviewees comprise the ensemble, with Steven Pennell, the man behind the show’s conception, guiding them as the interviewer. This is a perfect cast. Ted D’Artri’s Cameron stopped the show quite a few times with some truly raw moments that he has to work through. Sandra Lee’s Kara was captivating, Lilly Cataldi’s Josie had me on the edge of my seat, Carol Schlink’s Tiffani was stellar and Chris Laureano’s Eli melted my heart. Cody Suzuki opens the piece with some beautifully written spoken word, and at the helm is Steven Pennell who also serves as the navigator for the audience, and he does so in such a calming and loving way that I can’t imagine anyone walking out unchanged. (Yes, even that one person we all know that is so closed-minded that they pine away for the days when women lived in the kitchen, and closets were closed.) The pieces are powerful, moving and at times funny, with lines about The Dark Lady and “Rhode Island … I mean Midland Mall,” the audience is reminded that this is in our backyard, something that makes this night of theater all the more important.

I consider myself a pretty liberal person.  And as an educator I have attended professional development sessions regarding the LGBT community, with a focus on transgender youth. I learned more in the course of one night of theater than I ever could in a PD. If you are in education, public service, work with the public, or have questions, catch this show. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll hear stories that will make you laugh and cry, and you’ll be witness to something truly special on stage.

See Trans Views on  June 7 & 8 @ 7pm URI Providence Campus Paff Auditorium 80 Washington St, PVD. The Performance is FREE and open to the public. For Information call 401-277-5206 or visit

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