Our very own GenderGP team member and Queries Team Lead Oliver Smith had the pleasure and privilege of attending the performance of the musical One Shoe of Each Colour. It is a musical created by Sam Peña Álvarez about his journey as a trans person.
One Shoe of Each Colour
One Shoe of Each Colour is written and produced by Sam Peña, a composer and pianist improviser. His musical One Shoe of Each Colour is an autobiographical musical about his story. The composer states in an Instagram post that the creation of the musical was his ‘personal therapy’ which came out of a necessity to write and be creative. Sam explained it ‘came out of me and I couldn’t do anything about it’.
Sam is one of the first musicians in the world to have attended a course created and tailored to him. They graduated from Guildhall School of Music and Drama with a ‘Piano Masters in Interpretation and Improvisation’. They combined their skills in composition, jazz as well as classical music. He has recently discovered his true passion for improvisation.
One Shoe of Each Colour tells the story of Bet, the author’s real nickname. The character depicts a version of their past self. Bet is short for ‘Beethoven’, the German pianist and composer. Initially Bet is played under a female identity accompanied by their two consciences. As Bet’s journey grows, they find freedom and bravery in becoming who they are now.
Oliver’s review of the musical
On Saturday 10th June, I was incredibly lucky to be invited to the showcase of the Musical “One Shoe of Each Colour” written by Sam Peña Álvarez. To say that this One Shoe of Each Colour is a masterpiece is honestly, the understatement of the century. I am genuinely not even sure that words can do justice to the incredible impact this piece had on me, but I will try!
One Shoe of Each Colour was written by Sam in lockdown; an autobiographical tale of a character (BET) going through a transitional process of growth and change to discover themselves. BET begins the story presenting as a female and is accompanied by two consciences who only they can see or hear, who represent “fear and social opinion” and “freedom and bravery” with the former holding BET back from their goal of the latter. On the night, we were treated to 8 of the songs in the musical, with a narrator present to link the pieces together and form the basis of the story.
From the moment the first song began, I felt myself forming a deep emotional connection with BET as a character. The soundtrack to the musical was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before – with the lyrics of the songs reflecting on BET’s gender journey. I had never come across a musical which depicted the journey of a trans person before; needless to say that seeing that representation initially made me feel really emotional! Yet, the story wasn’t just written for trans audiences. It was beautifully told in a manner that all audiences can understand and relate to. “The story speaks about a minority but affects the majority” was a wonderfully accurate phrase used to describe the piece.
A story for everyone
During a time where trans rights in the UK and across the world unfortunately remain under threat, watching a musical where trans experiences are explained in a manner that allows cisgender people to understand and empathise was so uplifting. The representation gave me hope for the future of our community. Hope that trans youth will be able to see this and feel represented and heard. Hope that seeing being trans so normalised will help the world understand and accept us.
I came away from watching One Shoe of Each Colour with a head full of emotions and a heart full of hope. It was a beautiful story, representing our community so well. I would encourage anyone to watch the musical. Whether cis or trans we can all be brought together by a story of personal discovery and perseverance.