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Statement on our cancellation of Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

The Board of Directors would like to thank everyone for their patience in the delivery of this statement as we prepared for Agnes of God.

Early in 2018, the Little Theatre of Norfolk announced our 92nd season, to include Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Once the production team was in place, the decision was made to do everything possible to cast a trans woman in the role of Joanne, one of the Disciples of Jimmy Dean. Leading up to auditions, the theater reached out to the LGBT community in an attempt to have trans women audition for the role.

In discussions with community leaders that followed, we became aware that many viewed the role of Joanne as inaccurate and, indeed, the entire play as offensive. As such, no trans women came out to audition. We were told by the community that casting a cis woman would be harmful.

The purpose of theater is to educate and foster acceptance. Indeed, the arts community is where many members of the LGBT community find acceptance that has been lacking elsewhere. It is never our wish to bring more harm to an already marginalized and persecuted community. As such, the decision was made to produce another piece in the slot for this season.

We will continue to communicate with local advocates of the transgender community in hopes of educating one another. Theater does not shy away from tackling timely issues, but neither does it seek to harm. It is our belief that with further understanding on both sides we may be able to produce Jimmy Dean in future in a way that lives up to the values of inclusion that we hold so dear, but that can only come with time and further discussion.