HAMLET — Michael Brewer, a filmmaker with ties to Hamlet and Dobbins Heights, will debut a feature-length documentary, “In Full Bloom: Transcending Gender” during the National Black Theatre Festival at Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem.
According to Brewer, the documentary “follows the courageous journey of 13 transgender and two gay actors as they transform their lives through the use of monologue, dialogue and performance art while preparing for the world premiere of the stage play, “Lovely Bouquet of Flowers: An Exploration of Non-Traditional Gender Voices,” by Jazzmun Nichcala and director, David Hays Gaddas.”
Brewer explained that Caitlyn Jenner’s recent announcement about her sexual identity has sparked a “hot topic of conversation,” even though he and his team began making their film two years ago.
“Behind-the scenes, rehearsal and performance footage is interwoven with compelling personal interviews from the cast,” Brewer said in a release. “Dealing with family, inner conflicts, discrimination, coming out, surgery, hormones and the complexities of sexual identity and orientation. By sharing their own journeys, the actors transcend transgender by speaking to issues, such as relationships, careers and spirituality.”
Stereotypes, he said, are deep-seated and difficult to overcome, but he hopes his film will help to dispel some of the mystery surrounding transgender issues while shedding light on the beauty of diversity.
Brewer’s aunt is Gracie Jackson, a Dobbins Heights town councilwoman and one of four candidates running for mayor in the fall municipal election. She said she is very proud of her nephew and explained some of the early life experiences that may have shaped his interest in artistic pursuits.
“Well, No. 1, he and his family they traveled a lot,” Jackson said. “And then when he finished high school, he had a great interest in writing and traveling to different places around the world. You’ve hear the old saying, ‘curiosity killed the cat.’ He had plenty of curiosity around here.”
Jackson, who has not seen her nephew’s work, is nevertheless unabashedly proud of their family connection.
“He used to come in the summer and stay in Hamlet for a period of time and then go back to New York,” Jackson reminisced. “After he finished high school and was married, he lived in South Carolina for a time, and he was in television down there. Then they stayed in Boston for a while. He brought me souvenirs from Africa and different places where he did movies and films and he is still getting into big projects in film, and we are real proud of him. To be so associated closely with his family — we have lawyers, teachers in the family. And my late husband, Halbert Jackson, was the first mayor of Dobbins Heights.”
Jackson said that of all the cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles in the family, Michael is the only one who went into the entertainment industry.
“It would be nice to get him to Hamlet,” she said. “I believe he could find something to do about us, right here. It would be good to get him here.”
For more information on the National Black Theatre Festival screenings and to purchase tickets, contact 336-723-2266.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.