“A rumpus filled journey into the fabulous with a little dash of heart sprinkles on top for colour!” Not your typical description for a theatre production that’s for sure. But then, it doesn’t sound like there is very much that is typical about the Studio 58 Risky Nights Series and its upcoming production of What a Drag!
Now in its 11th season, the Risky Nights Series bridges classroom work and main stage productions at Studio 58, Langara College’s professional theatre training program. It provides second year students the opportunity to create an original theatre piece from start to finish, with a professional director, and perform it for an intimate audience.
This season, the sophomore class will be working with Director Cameron Mackenzie, or actually his alter-ego, the Queen of East Van herself, Isolde N. Barron (pictured right in a photo by Brandon Gaukel) on a production of What a Drag!
With the show written, produced and performed by the second year students as a collective, Mackenzie did admit it has not been without its challenges.
“I feel like I am walking eight very strong dogs that all want to go in different directions and sometimes get into snarling matches with each other,” he said. “My job is to keep them all safe and get them down this very unclear road.”
And helping the students along that unclear road is something Mackenzie is more than capable of as the idea for What a Drag! fits nicely into his own love for drag as an art form.
“I have always found it fascinating what Kings and Queens get away with,” said Mackenzie. “They are at one end, the modern day court jesters or clowns and on the other end of the spectrum they are the leaders of queer rights – by their very existence they push boundaries. Their ability to use gender as a performance I find very liberating.”
Having performed drag for nearly four years now as Isolde N. Barron (“is old and barren” for those that might need some help figuring it out), Mackenzie readily admits there is a definite ego boost when he puts on the wig and a dress, but it is also about raising funds for the various charities that he believes in. “The day Isolde’s motivations are only about ego stroking is the day Cameron ends her! I actually very much look forward to that show!” he concluded.
Working alongside his real-life partner Dave Deveau, who acts as dramaturge, Mackenzie does remain a little coy on the content of the show itself, but hopes that audiences leave “feeling fabulous”.
What A Drag!
Studio 58, Langara College
12 – 17 October 2010
Drag monarchs are our world’s clowns. They grin their way through genders. They belt their sexuality. They clomp and stomp and strut their way over the bridge between society and tomfoolery. Entry by donation. Call 604.323.5227 for reservations. Visit the production’s Facebook page for more information.