JOAN: Exploring gender identity through historical figures

Published: Thursday 23rd February 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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Following its huge success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016, JOAN / Hekima comes to Hull as part of Back To Ours.

Focusing on the iconic figure Joan of Arc, the story is one of courage and hope, whilst pushing the boundaries of gender identity.

“Joan of Arc has long been seen as an icon for standing up for your beliefs and instigating change,” enthuses writer and director Lucy J Skilbeck from Milk Presents.

“She wore men’s clothing and refused to meet the definitions of those around her. It was an exciting opportunity to invite Drag King LoUis CYfer to perform her story.”

We ask if it was hard to get into the character of such a prominent historical figure. LoUis CYfer, AKA Lucy Parkinson, explains that she was inspired by a mixture of sources:

“JOAN comes from a blend of my interpretation of how she would have seen the world, along with my own experiences and attitudes. I think we could have had a lot in common.”

There will be three performances of JOAN / Hekima across a trio of venues.

Today (Thursday 23 February), it takes to the stage at Archbishop Sentamu Academy. On Friday, JOAN will be performed at North Point Shopping Centre. And finally, the cabaret will be brought to west Hull on Saturday at Hymers College.

The idea behind Back To Ours is to deliver award-winning shows to every corner of the city, and JOAN is no exception.

Milk Presents and Parkinson scooped three awards at last year’s Edinburgh Festival. These were The Stage Edinburgh Award, Scotsman Fringe First, and a Mervyn Stutter Spirit of the Fringe Award.

LoUis CYfer is no stranger to victory either, winning Drag Idol back in 2014.

Skilbeck explains that the theme of gender identity can be complicated and messy, but this shouldn’t stop audiences having a wonderful time:

“We are looking to explore the theme deeper with audiences, but in a fun and accessible manner.”

Audiences will experience a combination of clever lyrics, comedy, wit and fabulous cabaret. It certainly sounds like a fun evening.

“People can come and have a great night out. We really want them to totally enjoy the show, the drag, the story and be part of the live event,” explains Skilbeck.

Whilst Parkinson is thrilled to be touring JOAN, she plans to simultaneously continue her Soho and Camden residencies.

She also runs a series of workshops for anyone who wants to dabble in drag:

“We work with people of many genders, ranging from children to the elderly.”

“Trying out drag can be really liberating and fun, and we approach this through safe, friendly sessions.”

Meanwhile, Milk Presents are already planning a new show:

“We’re currently developing BULLISH,” says Skilbeck. “It’s a fun take on the Minotaur myth through non-binary binoculars.”

Tickets for JOAN / Hekima start from just £2.50. To book tickets, please visit the Hull2017 website.

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Published: Thursday 23rd February 2017 by Courtney Farrow

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