Will Shishmanian is a musical theater composer/lyricist, singer/songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist based in Queens, NY. As a transgender man, he focuses his theater work on projects that critique social inequalities and help guide people to understand gender and identity in a different light than they may have been conditioned to believe. He also releases his solo music in a variety of genres under the name Will Shish.
Selections from a new folk musical
Music and Lyrics by Will Shishmanian, Book by Will Shishmanian and Pascale Florestal
Our show begins with Mark, a transgender man who has just moved away from his rural hometown, arriving in what's to become his new home in a small town in upstate NY. After receiving an underwhelming level of support for his transition from his family and friends, he's decided to start a new chapter where no one knows about his past. He arrives at the town's orchard, where he is waiting to be seen for a job interview, and wonders how he'll give his background and work history without divulging too much to his potential employer.
"Who Am I"
Mark gets a job sorting and packaging picked apples that the orchard supplies to local vendors, and is shown to the stockroom by Betsy, the office manager. Though he's excited that he's being consistently read as a man for the first time in his life, he's off put by the behavior of the other men he's working with, who have a habit of making off-color jokes.
Enter Dani, a local delivery woman, who arrives at the stockroom to do a pickup of several crates of apples. The leader of the orchard stockroom guys, Derrick, makes a comment about Dani needing a man, despite knowing that she's openly queer, and asks her if she needs their help carrying these heavy crates, despite knowing she always declines his requests. With Betsy echoing her own frustrations from her office, Dani sings her frustrations.
"Do My Own Job"
After Mark witnesses the interaction, he follows Dani on her way out to apologize for the guy' behavior. She calls him out for not doing anything in the moment, and he promises her that he'll do better in the future. When he explains he's new in town and doesn't have any friends yet, Dani invites him to meet up with her later at a secret location, which he's soon to find out is a gay bar that Dani is opening, despite pushback from the town's mayor. After she leaves, Mark wonders to himself how successfully he's "passing"; amongst his new peers.
"Is She Picking Something Up"