The term ‘drag queen’ is pretty well known (thank you Ru Paul’s drag race!) but how about ‘drag king’? Well, it’s about to get a whole lot more popular as Malta welcomes award-winning show Joan!
Sometimes a cultural event really piques my interest and, this month, I have got my eye on Joan – a drag king show that’s flying in from the UK to take the Spazju Kreattiv programme by storm.
Performed by award-winning drag king champion Lucy Jane Parkinson, the show tells the courageous story of Joan of Arc – arguably history’s greatest gender warrior. Part-play, part-drag king cabaret, it is bold, beautiful, hilarious and poignant, and – having won top awards like the Fringe First Award and the Edinburgh Spirit of the Fringe Award – it is on course to bring the house down here in Malta too.
So what inspired it, I wonder? “Well, I knew I wanted to write a drag king play and, when I first started researching, the drag king scene was much more underground than it is now,” says writer and director Lucy J Skilbeck.
“I started thinking about Joan of Arc and the relationship she had to male clothing and masculinity, and it all kicked off from there. Joan of Arc still stands as one of history’s most radical heroines. How did a 15th century peasant girl defy her birth gender to lead a king’s army to reclaim a nation? Her incredible story has allowed me to open up fantastic and delicate discussion around gender with a really wide audience, from young people to grandparents, and Lucy’s cabaret charisma and unique performance makes Joan a wonderfully exciting 21st century gender warrior.”
And if you’re sitting there thinking: wow, it might be really cool to have a go at being a drag king, you’re in luck! Alongside the performances of Joan, the production team (which is made up of Milk Presents in the UK and Drachma LGBTI in Malta) have also put together three dynamic free workshops, one of which will actually walk you through the building of your very own drag king. Open to anyone over the age of 14, it will be led by both Lucys – performer Lucy and writer/director Lucy – and will take you through the basics of ‘creating your very own male persona’ – “complete with make up, costume and (optional) swagger…,” Lucy Jane Parkinson says. “It’s very playful.”
So, whether you fancy exploring gender identities on a Saturday morning or rather watch a drag king legend play out in front of you on stage, Joan certainly promises to be one of the must-see events this May.
Oh, and it’s also an opportunity to see inside one of Malta best-loved theatres – St James Cavallier (it was built by the Knights, you know… and transformed as one of the island’s Millennium projects).
JOAN comes to Malta this 25th-27th May at 8pm. Tickets start at €12 and are available from www.kreattivita.org. JOAN is supported by Arts Council Malta – Creative Communities.