Why Pronouns Matter on- and off-stage

By The Children's Theatre

You may recognize our guest blogger Jo Bennett from our 2019 production of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS where they played Baloo the Bear. Read on for Jo’s take on why pronouns matter:

“My name is Jo Bennett and my pronouns are They/Them. I am an actor, writer, professional storyteller, and voice actor based in the Midwest. I came out as genderfluid in 2016. I was a natural storyteller growing up. It didn’t matter to me what the part was – I had to play it! When the neighborhood kids pretended to be the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I wanted to be Master Splinter. When I played videogames with my brothers I voice acted every single character. I didn’t see many examples of people who felt like me as a youngster. I spent a lot of effort in the mirror trying to emulate examples of hyper-femininity, thinking people would like me better or hire me more. I came to the conclusion that doing so made me desperately unhappy. I just wanted to make my art – I just wanted to be me. Once I came out I was amazed at the warm reception I received! Sure, there were some missteps with pronouns and some rude folks who dismissed me, but for every 1 of those people I discovered 20 people who would tell me, ‘Thank you – I never knew there was someone like me out there.’

I had the pleasure of performing Baloo the Bear most recently for The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati’s production of Disney’s The Jungle Book KIDS and the staff made every effort to respect my journey. My presentation of Baloo was not a feminine or a masculine one – it was a presentation of a fun-loving parent. I felt that presenting the character in this way was so much more truthful than forcing Baloo into a binary worldview.”

TCT is working to create an inclusive environment for staff, crew, cast, artists, and volunteers. We’re starting by making simple changes like putting our pronouns in our email signatures, Zoom name boxes, and on our name tags. When we make these small changes, we allow others – like Jo – to feel more at ease and welcome when they come into our space. Really, using pronouns is one of the bare necessities of life 🐻

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