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.
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.
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