International drag king champion, Lucy Parkinson will perform her award winning solo show, Joan at this year’s Mardi Gras Festival. Written and directed by Lucy J Skilbeck, Joan is a modern day retelling of the story of French teenage war hero come saint, Joan of Arc. Combining elements of cabaret, stand up comedy, drag and drama the talented Parkinson plays multiple characters and re-reads one of the most enigmatic figures in history.
Joan is the writing debut for director Skilbeck who was intrigued from the very first time she encountered the story of the French saint:
“She wore men’s clothing…when it was absolutely not ok to do so. She was from a tiny village and was the child of a tenant farmer, as am I. And yet she went on to change the course of the 100 year war. Her story forever horrifies and inspires me.”
Joan defied gender type, something that resonates with both Skilbeck and Parkinson, and the play focuses a lot on deconstructing gender.
“Fixed gender roles are a method of control,” says Skilbeck. “We are normalised into two categories and are much more manageable in this form.” When gender conformity is diluted, so is power.
It’s a weighty subject matter but the show is not heavy-handed assures Skilbeck:
“The piece is hugely entertaining, it’s a fun night out as well as a play with an emotive kick.”
For Parkinson, the success of Joan is validation that audiences are ready and keen to see Drag King performances.
“Because of the lack of mainstream King’s not having shows or being recognised in the mainstream media, some people don’t even know we exist…The great thing about Joan is that it bridges the worlds of theatre and cabaret together [and] that welcomes audiences from all backgrounds”
Parkinson sings, interacts with the audience, and plays several characters, all while carrying the show alone. How does she manage?
“That’s my job and I wouldn’t have it any other way! I stay focussed by warming up in character, always eating well before a show and without fail I ALWAYS watch an episode of Simpson’s…”
Both Skilbeck and Parkinson are thrilled to be part of the 40th Mardi Gras and can’t wait to present the show to a warm and appreciative audience.
Feb 16-18. Seymour Centre, Sound Lounge, Cnr City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale. $30-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.seymourcentre.com
By Rita Bratovich.