David Harrison's plays so far (another one is on the way) include FTM and Permission.


FTM, written and performed by David Harrison, invites you to an intimate look at a transsexual journey from Female-To-Male. Timothy is going through the first year of his gender-change. His transformation is juxtaposed with that of his mother, Jean, who (in another time period) is experiencing changes in her body and female identity as a result of having breast cancer. Their stories—moving, funny and poignant—are told through dreams, anecdotes and remembrances. This is the first play ever written and performed by a female-to-male transsexual, it is accessible and appealing to a wide audience, and it is entertaining. In most media representations of the lives of transsexuals, the focus is nearly always on the external: on the before or after. FTM is unique in that it explores the inner personal conflict, desires, challenges, and victories of the place between: the time of transition. “Most transsexuals want to forget about their time of transition,” says Harrison. “Difficult as that may be, I wanted to capture that twilight place. ”

David Harrison is an actor and playwright who has made appearances on Donahue, Joan Rivers and National Public Radio. His first play, Permission, brought him (then her) to national attention, including a North American tour of the play. Harrison wrote one of seven chapters in the Cassell book, Assaults on Convention. He has also contributed to the anthologies: Pomosexuals, Men Seeking Men, Beyond Definition, and Out in All Directions: The Almanac of Lesbian & Gay America. FTM was first performed in San Francisco in May of 1994 and has been touring internationally since then. A new production of the show was recently mounted at HERE Arts Center in New York, re-staged by director Suzi Takahashi. Her recent directing credits include Chiori Miyagawa's St. George Hotel, Mark Farnen's After Dinner and Elizabeth Horsburg's Mommy and Daddy Are Doing Dirty Things. Suzi is a graduate of Barnard College, studies with the SITI company and is currently working on her Masters degree in Performance Studies at NYU.

Photos: John-Francis Bourke

What the Critics are saying

“From 'Avenue Q' to 'Matt & Ben', New York stages have seen an unusual number of ladies who pack lately. But none has the balls of female-to-male transsexual playwright-performer David Harrison”
––TimeOut (New York)
“We look on as Harrison charts the tempestuous and seldom traveled waters of radical sexuality, only to recognize glimmers of ourselves in new and unexpected ways”
––**Performance Pick of the Week** LA Weekly
“Harrison does not lay down answers, only perspectives. And when he chooses to be, Harrison is very funny…it should be seen because it challenges each of us to become the person we should be.”
––San Francisco Sentinel
“Harrison’s obviously a bright, likeable person, and the force of his charm, combined with his willingness to reveal himself, goes a long way towards defeating prejudice.”
––The Georgia Straight, Vancouver
“FTM is compelling and well written”
––The Star Tribune, Minneapolis
“While few people can identify with the changes Harrison has undergone, the underlying theme of alienation is a universal one. His quest to feel comfortable in his skin, and to be accepted by others makes FTM a must-see.”
––Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Sample Scene                        Bios                              Slide Show

San Francisco & Original Touring Production


Photo: Claudio Fernandez                                          Photo: Jason Albertson

PERMISSION...                   (back to top)
...to enter the secret world of the professional dominatrix
1992 Touring Press Release

Permission by actor/playwright Catherine Harrison is a drama with a twist—a twist of the wrist, that is. As an audience, we are privy to the innermost sanctum of the S/M sex trade as three professional dominatrices pursue their work. Harrison takes the genre of lesbian theatre out of the kitchen and into the dungeon with this provocative and sometimes shocking work, based in part on her own experience as a professional dominatrix. She highlights an intimacy and proximity to the trade otherwise only achieved through hire.
“There’s a great deal of judgment and pre-conceived notions about sex work, and S/M in particular,” says Ms. Harrison, “that’s based on ignorance and fear.”
Permission is her way of illuminating a profession heretofore isolated and incomprehensible.

Left to Right: David (Catherine) Harrison. KayLynn Raschke, Lisa Farmer
Photo: Virginia Bing

The Story
Mistress Marlene, owner and manager of a house of domination, hires newcomer Brett as a dominatrix-in-training. Marlene instructs Mistress Monique to see to Brett’s “lessons.” Through a marvelous blend of comedy, irony, and daring, we learn about the delights of caning, whipping, and bondage. Clients come and go: the bondage slaves, the french maids, and the men thirsty for golden showers. Brett is fascinated to find that she truly enjoys her work—despite the fact that she is a lesbian. She is all the more enthralled to discover that Mistress Marlene is also a lesbian. And Monique has something to reveal about her own past as the only child of a Baptist minister.

The Company
Catherine Harrison takes the role of Marlene, hard-edged soft-shouldered owner of the house. Lisa Farmer plays the not-long-to-be-naive Brett. And KayLynn Raschke appears as Mistress Monique, who quite literally shows Brett the ropes. Directed by Kelly Hill.

The controversy may rage within the various feminist and academic circles, but never before have the subjects of sadomasochism and the sex trade been so plainly portrayed at all the levels of reality they occupy.

Production history
Permission was first written and produced in 1991 at Theatre Rhinoceros in San Francisco. The original cast was Lisa Farmer as Brett, Catherine Harrison as Marlene and Victoria Baker as Monique. The play was developed and staged by director/dramaturg Noreen C. Barnes. The second production, re-written and restaged was mounted in spring of 1992 under the direction of Kelly Hill. The cast were Lisa Farmer as Brett, Catherine Harrison as Marlene and Kaylynn Raschke as Monique. After a 3 week run at 21 Bernice in San Francisco, the show went on a 6 week East coast tour, including Toronto, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Boston.

Permission…to Quote
“Permission is on the cutting edge of Queer theatre. It addresses areas of radical sexuality yet untouched in the lesbian community. It is a ‘must-see’ production.”
—Wickie Stamps, Gay Community News
“A unique exploration of the intersection of S/M and the sex industry; a whomping good time!”
—Gayle Rubin
“Harrison has crafted a witty, insightful and at times touching script…I didn’t want the play to end”
—The Spectator
“Permission provides a great deal of information otherwise unavailable in our pop-mediated diet of sex myths…This is a show which literally teaches you a few of the ropes, or at least insists there are a few safety rules in the S/M physical and psychological playtime repertoire.”
—The Bay Area Reporter

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