Next month we launch our new zine CENTRE, with a special online event, REYT QUEER NIGHT IN, to bring our community together. And of course queer culture will be served up front and centre!
Part of our offer is a Vogue dance workshop with Mama Ghetto aka Darren Pritchard. Darren is a performer, choreographer, producer and director. He is also a celebrated Vogue performer and Mother of the House of Ghetto Manchester. We’re thrilled he can join us to teach some Vogue moves and flair via Zoom!
Darren says ‘Vogue is important to me, because it embraces my love of dance, my love of QTIPOC culture and allows me to be me and who ever else I want to be. Through the ballroom culture as a Mother I have seen people grow and develop and do things they thought they could never do’.
Manchester’s House of Ghetto have made their name in the Manchester Vogue ball scene with tight choreography performed solely by Black female dancers. House of Ghetto also feature in documentary ‘Deep in Vogue‘, which examines the North West’s Vogue ball scene, and which premiered at BFI Flare in 2019. Darren has produced Vogue Balls throughout the UK including Manchester’s first Black Pride Vogue Ball as part of 2019’s Manchester Pride. Read more about the House of Ghetto and Darren here.
Our REYT QUEER NIGHT IN is about having fun with your community, so before getting your vogue on with Mama Ghetto, we’re encouraging you to join drag star Christian Adore with his ‘Party Eye’s’ makeup workshop, for all genders. Because remember, makeup has *no* gender! Its bound to be an irreverent and joyful way to get ready for your queer party at home!
Finally, we’re super excited that DJ Xzan, will be performing a live DJ set 9 – 11pm bringing the party direct to your front room. They’ll be playing a high energy set with plenty queer pop party anthems to help you share in the queer joy. DJ Xzan aka Xandice Armah is an open format DJ from London and co founder of Gal Pals, the LGBTQ+ dance party centring womxn and excellent pop music. Xzan has supported the likes of Big Freedia, JD Samson, Anna Clavi, MNEK and Mabel, as well as playing at Glastonbury on the Sisterhood Stage.
All those who pre order a copy of CENTRE will get sent a link to the DJ set for free, but if you want to join us from 7pm, you’ll need to get your ticket via Tickets For Good. Sliding scale prices to suit all budgets are available! We hope you can join us on the 10th October, serving your best party looks, and bask in the queer joy!
CENTRE will be available on our online shop for pre sale on the 1st October and posted out around REYT QUEER NIGHT IN on 10th October. The zine is a collaboration with artist Okocha Obasi and created using Arts Council England’s COVID-19 Emergency Funding.
We are sorry to say we will not be returning to host live, in – person events until Spring 2021 at the earliest. We have taken this decision in light of the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and the need to plan ahead as best we can.
As a queer – led social enterprise, which means we put people before profit, and care of the most vulnerable and marginalised at our heart, we cannot see a scenario in which we can bring properly safe and inclusive events to our community until next year. We know many of you, like us, are struggling with anxiety about returning to any sort of normal, and we recognise that we need to adapt.
We have spoken at length with our partner venues about the measures in place to maintain social distancing, and keep audiences and workers safe. Sadly, the capacities allowed in venues would in no way enable us to cover the costs of producing the events we have become known for. We also have the health and wellbeing of our artists, staff team and volunteers to consider. A Reyt Queer Do and The Kingdom Come are meant to be joyous and cosy events. We would rather wait and bring these events back when it feels much safer to do so. Right now, we couldn’t in good faith, host live events indoors when so many people are still shielding, or taking extra precautions to protect those around them.
Under lockdown we are proud to have continued to support queer artists, delivering a range of creative activity and developing talent in the North of England. It’s been been wonderful to see new and familiar faces at our online workshops. We will be applying for more funding to continue to adapt our offer during these challenging times.
We know this has been a tough time for so many. We plan both to continue to offer online and remote activity, and take time to develop the organisation. We may start hosting in person workshops in Spring 2021, but we also realise there are many unknowns.
We’ve got plenty plans in the pipeline and will share those with you as soon as we can. If you’d like to support our work you can do so by donating via our website. Your support ensures we can continue to support LGBTQ+ artists in these difficult times.
Our new zine, CENTRE, will be launching in October, so make sure you’ve signed up to our newsletter to be the first to get your hands on a copy and hear about a special online event to mark the occasion.
We can’t wait to return with a bang when it is safe to do so. Till then, we hope you can join us online soon.
What exactly is a zine? As the Zine (pronounced zeen) becomes more and more a part of mainstream art and culture, and ahead of our new Zine, CENTRE, we decided it was well worth answering the question many of you may have been pondering quietly, but never dared ask aloud: “Just what exactly is a Zine?”
Is it a cheap way of displaying and disseminating art, a vehicle for the distribution of political ideas, maybe a glossy collection of photos in a trendy indie bookshop, or perhaps an important format of 20th and 21st century art? Are they handmade, each one unique, printed in small circulation or in bulk quantities? Are they ‘high-art’ or punk?
The not so simple answer, (you’ll be pleased to know) is nowadays people use ‘Zine’ to refer to any, and all of the above. This may seem like a bit of a contradiction, and that’s because it very much is.
In order to understand this contradiction, it’s helpful to have a very brief history of Zine-making. It’s hard to pinpoint a particular time or instance of The First Zine, but there are a few pretty good examples throughout the 20th century of the format, for instance, Sci-fi fan literature and ‘fanzines’ from the 1930s onwards. Fans of existing Sci-fi literature used the format to discuss published stories and share theories/fanfiction amongst themselves, bypassing the need for controlling or selective editors and publishers.
The format also became popular amongst hardcore fans of different music genres, including Rock ‘n Roll, Punk, and paving the way for commercially successful publications like Dazed, Vice, and NME. Latterly Zines were used as a way of disseminating political ideas and organising political thought, like the Queercore and the Riot Grrrl movement of the 80s/90s. These zines were characterised by a Do-It-Yourself aesthetic, and at their root was a desire to centre marginalised voices (although Riot Grrrl as a movement was fairly white and heteronormative), to subvert and challenge unequal power structures, and to foster a sense of community in shared experiences. (woo)
Unfortunately as with most things, as the Zine has become increasingly popular, it has also begun to be appropriated by corporations. (boo) For example, that expensive glossy photo-book in the trendy indie bookshop that we mentioned earlier. The Zine DIY aesthetic is also one that corporations have attempted to appropriate. Despite this, and the introduction of the internet, the Zine as a physical object, continues to be an important format for contemporary activists and creatives.
So what content actually goes into a zine then?
So we’ve covered where Zine’s come from, now what’s in them…This time the answer is pretty simple…anything goes! Just some examples of things might be; stories, poetry, prose, collage, photos, drawings, visual art, recipes, scanned objects/items, song lyrics, reviews, letters, articles, research, infographics, political manifestos…the list goes on!
Feeling intrigued and inspired? Check out our open submission to have your work printed in CENTRE Zine in collaboration with RACE ZINE and Okocha Obasi.
Image credit: Race Zine, 2019, courtesy of the artist, Okocha Obasi.
With just over a month until our our Cabaret College, we caught up with award winning drag king and actor Lucy Jane Parkinson, aka LoUis CYfer who we’re collaborating with for this set of online workshops..
LoUis CYfer was the first Drag King to win the crown at Drag Idol UK and has gone on to become a well known performer in the UK cabaret scene. A regular collaborator with theatre company Milk Presents, they have performed in theatre shows across the UK, balancing their acting and writing alongside appearances as LoUis CYfer. Having led some drag king workshops for us back in November 2019 we’re thrilled they are back to work with us on the Cabaret College.
Q. Can you tell us about your past work?
As well some stints working in a Chinese takeaway and Morrisons, I have worked in in some of the best cabaret bars in the UK. I’ve travelled all over the world from Texas to Australia, performing both cabaret and theatre. I’ve run workshops which raise awareness around gender, masculinity and drag, alongside some of my favourite people in the whole world (Milk Presents). Together we cleaned up at the Edinburgh fringe a few years ago winning a Fringe First, a Stage Award and Spirit of the Fringe for our hit cabaret theatre show: JOAN. I’ve done lots of work with Milk Presents with shows such as BULLISH and video poetry projects like MY ENGLAND. Before lockdown I had just finished a restoration comedy at the Young Vic Theatre and a drama for the BBC.
Q. What is the character of LoUis CYfer like?
LoUis is like nobody I’ve ever met, he’s charming yet cheeky, he’s strong and masculine but delicate like a soggy dandelion. He’s a dickhead that you can’t help but have fun with.
Q. What got you into drag / cabaret and what do you like best about it?
I was an artist studying my masters and at the same time was having a complete identity crisis; LoUis was my way of processing my confusion. The best thing about cabaret is that the show isn’t someone else’s script, it’s all your own, and having a stage for your voice, (albeit to pissheads), feels like a great opportunity to create discourse in an entertaining manner.
Q. Is there anything about drag and cabaret you’d like to see change?
Drag and cabaret is always changing and is constantly in flux, if you want me to say I’d like to see more kings I’m not going to do that … What I would like is to be able to see more arts funding for this genre as lots of cabaret artists are living hand to mouth. It would be good if we could apply for funds to make our travelling performances more like conventional touring theatre in terms of having a team and budgets for lighting and sound. Being on your own and doing everything can be a real stress and sometimes you forget to enjoy it.
Q. What do you hope to achieve through the Cabaret College?
I want to improve the quality of the work on the scene. I’m sick of seeing people have to enter all these competitions to get recognition. It’s not a good start and doesn’t facilitate self – sufficiency and critical reflection for the artist. It is crucial to equip creative people with the tools to make good quality work.
Q. As someone working in the performing arts how have you adapted under COVID? What are you excited about working on in future?
I’ve gone digital baby!!! This includes working with my own avatar as a way to explore character and technology. I’ve started my own podcast called FANNY KLUB and have been working with my partner in crime Rebecca Banatvala on our queer theatre company Korupt Kabuki. We have been writing monologues for actors to perform to camera, writing our own comedy show BOXTICKERS and thanks to Daisy May Cooper we have been writing our first treatment for a TV show about how we met. It’s been all go here at HQ.. Before lockdown I was due to start 6 months at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in Twelfth Night so once things open up again I’m hopeful they will begin rehearsals and I’ll get my big break back!
Can you tell us about someone that inspires you?
Without trying to sound like a dickhead, no particular person inspires me. I find moments and memories inspiring but to be inspired I feel like you have to see something in someone else that you aspire to be or have.. I don’t feel like I’ve had the opportunity to see myself in anyone yet. Having said that I wouldn’t mind waking up one morning to find I am Jodie Comer, Victoria Wood, Robin Williams, Cathy Burke or Daisy May Cooper.
To find out more and apply for a place on the Cabaret College course head here and complete the short application form. Deadline 30 July. You can find out more about LoUis CYfer by following him on Instagram.
Ahead of the launch of our new zine, Centre, we caught up with RACEZINE founder, recent graduate and our latest collaborator, Okocha Obasi (he/him).
Okocha is a graphic designer and recent graduate from Leeds Arts University. In the past three years, he has created an array of projects, characterised by bold designs and themes that are socially engaged and conscious. Obasi is the creator of the RACEZINE whose aim is to platform creatives of colour, and Okocha has produced many projects including a non-profit zine, performance events and colourful and infamous club night TONGUE N TEETH. (All whilst completing his Bachelors degree – crazy right!?)
Q: So, Kocha, what can you tell us about your previous projects?
Okocha: I do a range of different projects ranging from styling, art direction to speculative focused critical design. I use whatever medium is needed to prove or communicate an idea. I like to blur the lines between different practices in order to create visually cathartic pieces of work, hence why I see myself more as artist, than ‘graphic designer’. Whether it’s a poster, club night, event, motion graphic or textile design, all my projects have purpose and direction for impact. For example, my brand RACEZINE COLLECTIVE was made out of the pain of being the Othered my entire life. I created a zine publication known as RACEZINE to share the voices of creatives of colours who tend to go unnoticed in the white dominated Northern art-spaces. Other projects include TONGUE N TEETH, a club night which welcomes those othered, in a temporary carnival-like space, offering moments of escape.
Q: When did you get into zines, and what is it you like about them?
Okocha: I have always been into zines, and since I was young have enjoyed looking through independent bookstores or zine libraries up and down the country. I like how they can take any form, style and narrative, allowing less-heard voices to become physically achieved and known. There’s something very timeless about how zines represent certain eras, highlighting different the social issues of different periods, provide commentary and can be a form of liberation or rebellion. I like the power of self-publishing things, which bigger establishments might view as too
‘risky’. Zines themselves are forms of protest against what is allowed or expected, which naturally makes them an expression of punk. And punk, has always been political and pushing the boat where’s it’s never been and that’s very exciting.
Q: What do you like about living in West Yorkshire/Leeds?
Okocha: What I love about Leeds is the definitely the club nights, as I have had many good (and messy) nights out! I also love that many people are very down to earth and genuine, it feels like you can breathe more so than London at times. There’s definitely been a surge in creative collectives which is always inspiring. I love the D.I.Y attitude that comes with these collectives, that often comes with being thoughtful about who and why they are creating spaces. On a personal level, I grew a lot in Leeds as well for a range of different reasons, which I will always thanks the city for. Overall as a creative it’s a good place to fail, learn and succeed, as it cheap and accessible for many different things.
Q: What do you find challenging about living in Leeds?
Okocha: I think there are a lot of white dominated spaces, which can feel very suffocating as PoC. I think also the mass amount of students made me very anxious as some people views definitely did not align with my own. I wish there were more regular art shows which are not inherently fine art and white. I think it’s great a lot of different art spaces are created by DIY collectives, but I wish there were more radical exhibitions and shows, led by established art organisations & spaces.
Q: What do you hope to achieve with Centre?
Okocha: I hope to represent all the voices meaningfully and create a loud, bold and visually cathartic zine publication. One which will be cherished by all those who get a copy. I definitely want it to be completely different to all my past work in regards to style….just expect every page to be visual ecstasy….that’s all I’m going to give away for now 😉
Q: Can you share with us someone that inspires you?
Okocha: My mother’s strength runs through my blood. Being completely resilient to any downfall what comes her way has always made me realise even in the darkest times we can rise. My mum taught me how to survive independently and warned me about every bad wolf in the world from a young age. I think that’s why I see the world the way it is and with that, find strength in using light to reveal the dark.
Q: I think it’s only fair to finish by asking you the same question we’re asking of all the artists who submit a response to Centre. Can you tell us, in 50 words or less, what matters most to you?
Okocha: Being unapologetic. I am young but feel like I’ve lived a long life due to a range of experiences, good and bad that have shaped who I am today. I have grown, broken myself and grown again, which has taught me now, more than ever, to be completely unapologetic in everything I do.
You can see more examples of Okocha’s work, and follow him on Instagram, here.
Title image credit: Okocha Obasi, photographed by @undinemarkus.
This summer we’re very aware that many LGBTQ+ people will be missing the annual Pride celebrations, places where communities can come together and feel free, standing up for what matters to them.
We’re also aware that as event organisers, we can’t physically bring people together. That is why we are collaborating with artist Okocha Obasi to create a zine. Obasi is a graphic designer and recent graduate from Leeds Arts University, and the creator of the RACEZINE COLLECTIVE whose aim is to platform creatives of colour. RACEZINE COLLECTIVE has produced projects include a non-profit zine, performance events and infamous club night TONGUE N TEETH.
Through our collaboration we’re launching the new zine ‘Centre’. The hope is that this can act as method to connect folx across the North of England and provide visibility and a voice to our queer community, particularly those often marginalised.
So with that in mind, here’s what you need to know about our latest project!
CENTRE: A new zine
What’s at your centre? What matters most? What are your hopes for the future, and how is this informed by who you are?
CENTRE is about centering untold stories. We want responses from all ages, and all walks of life, but are particularly interesting in hearing and documenting Queer and QTIBPOC stories in the North of England. We’re also keen to hear from LGBTQIA folx identifying as neurodiverse, deaf or disabled.
We’re looking for responses in the form of: Letters, personals stories, personal historical materials, recipes, interviews, art, comics, drawings, prints, paintings, spoken word, intergenerational collaborations, short stories and anything else that you want to share with the world.
To submit something all you need to do is complete our Google form and attach your submission there. If you have any issues using tech, or need extra support, drop us a line and we’ll do our best to help you.
Next week we’re producing our first online version of our drag king workshops, and collaborating with Christian Adore to do so.
This 3 week course is designed to give participants tools needed to make an original drag character, and have some fun exploring what can be done with them! This short video gives you a good idea of what the workshops will involve and a sense of what Christian Adore is all about!
Workshops take place at 7.30pm GMT on the 8th, 15th and 22nd July. We might not be physically gathering in Sheffield, but there’ll be plenty Yorkshire charm!
Booking for each workshop closes at 10am the day before in order that participants have time to prepare the materials they need and get the Zoom link from us.
Sliding scale tickets available and free bursaries for those with restrictive incomes. Contact us if you’d like a free place. Or book now to get in on all the fun!
Ready to take your act to the next level? Want some space to get inspired and learn new skills? This 8 – week online course is designed to give you the tools to develop material for your own drag or cabaret act, and build your confidence. Award winning actor, writer and drag king LoUis CYfer of Korupt Kabuki, will lead 4 interactive sessions and provide mentoring for participants.
Aimed at emerging drag and cabaret acts looking for a creative challenge, our Cabaret College is about developing talent in the North of England. The course will give some context for the history of cabaret and drag, share a host of creative techniques for generating original material, and prepare participants for live performance in a safe and supportive environment.
It is an ideal follow on for people who have already participated in our previous drag king king workshops. It is also well suited to drag queens or other cabaret acts in need of space to create new material.
Sessions will happen on a fortnightly basis with set tasks to work on in between, to then share with the group. Each participant will receive a small amount of one to one mentoring with LoUis CYfer to assist with and support any challenges participants may need to work through.
By the end of the course each participant will have
A clearer sense of their drag character or cabaret act.
Created their own original material.
Understand how to work an audience.
Places on this course are limited in order to provide the best possible learning experience for participants. It is expected that participants will already have a drag or cabaret character devised. Places will be prioritised for those living in Yorkshire or the North of England. Free bursaries are available to QTIBPOC in order to provide better representation in the UK drag and cabaret scene.
Please note, this course is about generating original material and performing live. It is expected that participants will use their own voice through speech or song. Fees for the full course are £25 for General. £10 for Low Income. £50 for Solidarity. This pricing is made possible through funding from Arts Council England.
Course Details WEEK 1 – 19 August
Covering the history of cabaret and drag and its relevance to a modern audience. Looking at your character and how they relate to the audience, covering all the basics to getting started!
WEEK 2 – 2 September
Introducing you to a whole range of techniques to help you generate original material and find the form that suits your own strengths and skills.
WEEK 3 – 16 September
Exploring how to respond to current events / contemporary society and generating material that has something to say. Unlocking your voice and using it to create innovative and entertaining material.
WEEK 4 – 30 September
This final session is all about audience engagement. Learning how to play with the audience and make them part of your set; and even how to manage hecklers!
We look forward to receiving your application! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via our contact form.
If you’ve booked for one of our events before, you’ll know we offer tickets on a sliding scale to ensure our events stay as accessible as possible. This is made possible through generous donations from the public when buying tickets, and support we receive from grant funding.
In recognition of the fact that many people’s income levels are changeable at the moment and the fact our events for the next 6 months will be online, we’ve adapted our prices for our upcoming events.
We will have three ticket bands on sale for our upcoming workshops. General, Low Income, and Solidarity. Buying a Solidarity ticket helps contribute to our Pay it Forward ticket fund, ensuring we can continue to provide cheaper and free tickets to those who need them in future. We’re very grateful to those who buy these tickets. You can also add a contribution to this fund when buying tickets.
In recognition of the fact that many who will identify with the ‘Unwaged‘ descriptors *may* be able to afford the ‘Low Income‘ ticket, and to keep things simple, we have just one ‘Low Income‘ option. However, if this price prevents you from being able to attend our workshops, we are offering free bursaries to those in restrictive financial circumstances. Visit the ticket website to find out more.
We are very excited to be back to offering creative opportunities to access queer culture and we look forward to welcoming you to an online event soon!
We’re happy to announce that we have received Emergency Funding* from Arts Council England to help keep us going and provide a programme of online and remote activity over the next 6 months.
Since cancelling our last event in March owing to COVID-19, we’ve been working hard to adapt to the new climate. We’ve also been trying not to panic at the possibility that the sort of live events we create *may* not be safe to organise until 2021. Our future looked, at best, risky. For that reason we’ve reached out to queer artists in order to generate a programme of activity that will support and uplift our community through these challenging times.
This funding enables us to continue our talent development strand for emerging artists. This will compromise both online workshops for complete beginners led by drag king and musical improv expert, Christian Adore, and a more in depth ‘Cabaret College’ for acts wanting to push their skills and learn how to devise their own material. The latter will be led by actor, writer and drag star Lucy Jane Parkinson, aka Louis CyFer.
Alongside the talent development, we realise there is a need to connect with and hear the voices of the wider LGBTQ+ community and queer artists. To do this we will be creating a special zine both as a documentation of this strange time and a way to connect that does not rely on digital technology. This project will be led on by Leeds -based artist Okocha Obasi in collaboration with emerging producer Emma Bentley – Fox.
The zine will feature the voices of queer writers and artists alongside work submitted by members of the community who want to share their thoughts / dreams / ideas. We’ll print and distribute and launch with a special online launch party featuring queer performers and DJ set for indoor dancing. Along with this programme the funding will help us redevelop our website, and support staff time to ready the organisation for next steps.
We’re very thankful that we can continue to provide unique opportunities to ‘come together’ through queer culture and look forward to connecting with you all again. We’re also aware, however, that there are many great people and organisations that did not get this funding. It is one of the reasons why we will continue to make our work as accessible as possible and centre those otherwise marginalised.
In the meantime, we have set up a donation form on our website. All donations directly support our work in supporting queer artists and our community. We don’t know when we’ll be able to physically be in the same space again, (though currently we have no plans for physical events until beyond October). Your support ensures that when we can return to physical events, we’ll be back better than ever before.
Want to be the first to find out more about the above projects and opportunities? Sign up to our newsletter now!