Lets meet LoUis CYfer!

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. 

An androgynous person dressed in plastic gold armour poses with a hobby horse while a glitter canon goes off behind them
Lucy Jane Parkinson in JOAN. Milk Presents.

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!

Lucy leans over a table to help share drag king makeup skills to two participants who have painted on some thick eyebrows
LoUis facilitating a drag king workshop for Andro and Eve. Nov 2019

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. 

Drag King Workshops Online

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!

 

Updated Sliding Scale Tickets

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.

A range of ticket options are available for Andro and Eve events. Inlcuding, Free, Unwaged, Low Income, General Entry and Solidarity tickets.

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!

Staying Queer during COVID-19

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.

A suited drag king with long hair and moustache looks directly into the camera
Christian Adore will lead ‘Drag king workshops’ for beginners

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!

Team Andro & Eve x

** Funding received – £10,900.

Vegan Elderflower and Berry Cake

To continue our Birthday celebrations, vegan blogger and baker, Kat of Kelham Island Kitchen has created this special celebration cake recipe exclusively for us.

Its just the sort of treat you’d expect to find at one of our events. For now, while we’re all staying home to keep ourselves and our community safe, we thought we’d share this gorgeous recipe with you in the hope you might want to get baking and create something truly scrumptious!

A vegan cake with pink icing sits sliced and ready to eat.

Kat says,.. ‘Enjoy a slice of this wonderfully summery Vegan Elderflower and Berry Cake. Making the most of seasonal ingredients,this cake is perfect for enjoying outside with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine). The elderflower gives a subtle floral flavour while the berries add freshness and cut through the sweetness of the cake’

If you do bake your own, tag us in any pics, we’d love to see! Enjoy! (If this recipe is a bit ambititous for you, check out Kat’s Vegan Banana Bread recipe instead; its pretty simple and also totally delicious!)

Ingredients 
  • 400g Self raising flour
  • 200g Caster sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 400ml Plant Milk
  • 160ml Vegetable Oil
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 5 tbsp Elderflower Cordial, plus extra for brushing the cake
  • 100g Vegan Butter softened
  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 150g berries, I used frozen raspberries
Method 
  1. Pre-heat oven to 160’C (fan)
  2. Grease and line two cake tins
  3. Combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder in a mixing bowl
  4. Add the milk, oil, vanilla and elderflower cordial to the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter
  5. Fold in half the berries then split the batter evenly between the two tins
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cakes are golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the centre
  7. Allow the cakes to cool in the tins before moving to a cooling rack
  8. Brush the top of the cakes with some elderflower syrup
  9. To make the icing. Put the rest of the berries in a small saucepan with a splash of water
  10. Cook on a low heat until the berries are really soft and you have a compote consistency
  11. Strain the berries through a sieve. Keeping the liquid to add to the buttercream
  12. For the buttercream beat together the butter and icing sugar until you have a smooth, fluffy icing
  13. Once the berry sauce has cooled, add to the buttercream
  14. To assemble the cake put half the icing in the middle of the sponges, then the rest on top.
  15. Smooth the buttercream on top of the cake then use a pallet knife to create a simple flower pattern on top of the cake.

 

Welcome to our new Board Members

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of two new board members. Lola White and Ellie Wyer join Andro and Eve founder and CEO, Katherine Warman, as Directors of the board and have been in post as Directors for nearly 3 months.

Lola White

They bring to the organisation a robust set of skills and knowledge in HR, finance, partnerships and organisational development in both the private and public sectors.

Ellie Wyer

Katherine Warman CEO of Andro and Eve says ‘I’m delighted that Ellie and Lola are now part of Andro & Eve as they bring a wealth of expertise that will help develop the organisation. At such a challenging time for the culture sector, we are working hard to respond to the situation we find ourselves in, and are planning ways to adapt our delivery model’.

Andro and Eve celebrates 4 years producing events to celebrate queer culture this week, so we’re very pleased to be able to share this news with you. To find out more about our board and team, head here. 

Vegan Banana Bread

ingredients to make a vegan banana bread are laid on a wooden table. Sugar, flour, wooden spoon, bowl.

We know life is incredibly tough for so many people right now. Not least LGBT+ people isolated from supportive friends and networks that can be a lifeline. We know we’ve been missing our queer community and queer life in Sheffield during lockdown. We’ve been working hard to bring you some content that might prove useful, or bring joy. Our Instagram Stories and Twitter feed are full of news, resources and online events that can help members of the LGBT+ community during this pandemic.

Today we’re sharing something tasty. If you’ve been to one of our events you’ll know how important a feature our cakes are, and we’re missing them. Over the coming week we’re celebrating 4 years since our first event in Sheffield (a cosy screening of Jamie Babbit’s But I’m a Cheerleader, at which a giant cheerleader skirt cake made a splash!)

So what better way to mark 4 years of Andro & Eve than by sharing a recipe from our very own baker, Kat, otherwise know as Kelham Island Kitchen. Her blog is full of delicious vegan cooking, and her cakes are a staple of Andro & Eve events. Fun fact – Kat was the very first volunteer for Andro & Eve, back in 2016!

Ingredients for banana bread on a wooden table. Bananas, sugar, flour, oil.

This cake was featured at our January screening of SILVANA at Yellow Arch Studios. Its proper comfort food, ideal for coping with lockdown life, and not too expensive to make either. We know how hard it is to make ends meet for a lot of folx right now. It may be a quarantine cliche, but an easy banana bread, may be just the tonic. (I certainly enjoyed baking and eating this last week as a test – Katherine). Enjoy!

(And if you do bake this, please tag us @androandeve in any pics. We’d love to see!

Why not chuck in some dark chocolate chips, peanut butter or toast a slice with some coconut yoghurt for breakfast?

Kelham Island Kitchen’s Vegan Banana Bread 

Ingredients 

  • 3 large, overripe bananas
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mix spice
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 75ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100ml oat milk – if it needs it

Instructions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 (160 fan) mark 4
  2. Grease and line a loaf tin
  3. In a large bowl mix the flour, spices, sugar and baking powder
  4. In a separate bowl mash the bananas then add the oil and vanilla
  5. Mix the dry and wet mixtures together, if needed add the oat milk
  6. After a thorough mix pour into the prepared loaf tin and sprinkle some brown sugar on the top
  7. Bake in the oven for 45min – 1hr until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing to cool
  9. Enjoy!

 

 

Finding My Community

‘I struggled to find a community that would really support me in my drag journey’

For years, I’ve been interested in becoming a drag king – partly because of my theatre degree and fascination with gender as performance – but I’ve struggled to find a community that would really support me in my drag journey. So, when I saw a poster advertising Andro and Eve’s Drag King Workshop in November 2019, I simply knew I had to sign up for it.

Drag king louis Cyfer tutors workshop participants in drag makeup skills
Drag king Louis Cyfer teaches some drag makeup skills

Before the big weekend, I was buzzing with anticipation, but there was also a fraction of performance anxiety, as the practical workshops, especially comedy and character development, sounded challenging. On the second day of skills workshops, brilliantly facilitated by Katherine and Natalie, I found myself literally crawling on the floor whilst performing my first ever comedy improvisation that made my audience laugh. This wasn’t just confidence-boosting, it really made me realise I could “do” things, if only I was brave enough to take the plunge.

Workshop participants enjoy exploring gender as performance
Exploring gender as performance

The talent within our group is incredible. Some are charismatic performers, there are actors, singers, musicians and dancers, but everyone is warm and supportive. Our little community thrives on WhatsApp and some of us have met up at local events, such as Andro and Eve’s own Reyt Queer Do. The friendships forged at the workshop are proving an invaluable source of positive energy and inspiration during these strange times. I admit I can’t wait until I see the other Kings again on the other side of lockdown.

Andro & Eve director Katherine leads a session in gender as performance. They are sat in chairs having fun 'manspreading'.
Katherine Warman, Andro & Eve creative producer leads a session in gender as performance.

Developing Tristan – my drag king alter-ego – brings me a lot of joy. He still hasn’t quite found himself but he started his own life on social media and I’m looking at developing more comedy material, especially bad poetry. I’m truly grateful to Andro and Eve for giving me the tools to this wonderful, creative outlet and helping me find my place within the queer arts community.

Maria.

A group discusses creative ideas about creating scenes

What is a drag king cabaret?!

It has come to our attention that, SHOCK HORROR, some folk don’t KNOW what a drag king cabaret is? Hold our redbush tea while we gently explain the lowdown on the glorious and rare beast that is a cabaret night dedicated solely to DRAG KINGS.

Drag king romeo de la cruz onstage dancing
Romeo De La Cruz performs at The Kingdom Come 5, May 2019

Firstly, some of you, (gasp) may not know what a drag king is, but we think you *may* have heard of drag queens. So, a drag king, instead of performing femininity like most queens, will perform a version of masculinity. This can include use of makeup, facial hair, body transformation, and just like a queen, a wholly formed persona to amuse an audience. But ‘blokes are not as exciting to look at as the trappings of a woman’ we hear some dissenters mouth.. HOLD UP! Have you seen Spikey Van Dykey?  Adam All? Christian Adore? Oedipussi? The latter three kings have all performed at our very own drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come. No one with working eyesight could accuse these kings of not dazzling the heck out of audiences with their OTT looks.

Adam All and partner Aple Derrieres perform at The Kingdom Come, June 2017.

Starting to get an understanding? Okay. Now. Just don’t say ‘so its a woman dressed as a man right?’ This is because many kings identify as non binary, trans-masculine or as men. That said, some kings do go about daily life as women, just please ask before assuming this. Misgendering folk is never a good look and we really don’t want our community feeling less than damn brilliant. Got it? Champion.

So what does a drag king do? Glad you asked. They usually perform a 5 – 10 minute act in which they may dance, strut, pose, sing, lipsync or clown but always with the intention of entertaining an audience. Many kings use their performances to deconstruct and play with the idea of masculinity, using props, humour and audience interaction to give audiences a rollicking thrill ride of fun, while potentially also blowing your mind with a different perspective. Even if that perspective is that you didn’t know the macarena could be performed *that* fast, (cheers Oedipussi), or you now have a taste for a dick in a box (thanks Louis Von Dini)!

Chiyo onstage at The Kingdom Come, with tattoos and piercings on display
Scene star Chiyo performs at The Kingdom Come, May 2019. Abbeydale Picture House.

And a drag king cabaret such as The Kingdom Come? Well we put 5 of these kings on a massive stage, in the historic surroundings of old 1920’s cinema, Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield, and get them to perform for 200 – 350 people. They usually perform 2 different acts each with an interval in between. Its a room full of queer joy, community and the feeling that for 3 hours, we can come together and just celebrate. We also transform the space with decorations, a dedicated lighting designer, stage crew, and a team of amazing volunteers are on hand to support our community throughout (and sell some of the best vegan cake in Sheffield).

We do this because often, female bodied and trans performers are marginalised, because its the turn of the kings to get the recognition they deserve, with scene stalwarts like Boi Box having helped develop the careers of so many wonderful kings, and because Northern cities like Sheffield deserve some of the finest entertainment the UK has to offer! (And like so many cities, are lacking in dedicated LGBTQ+ venues). We want to put Sheffield on the map for queer arts and culture.

350 audience members watch Shesus and the Sisters onstage in Sheffield.
Shesus and the Sisters hosting The Kingdom Come at Abbeydale Picture House, May 2019.

Now you may have a better understanding of what The Kingdom Come is, we hope you can join us for a future edition. Because of the scale of these shows (the largest drag king show outside of London), we only do them once or twice a year. Our next is on the 21st March and you can get a ticket here, with sliding scale prices so all can enjoy a night of queer joy!

We hope to greet you there! 

So What Have We Been up To?

Happy LGBT+ History Month! Its been very busy the last 6 months at Andro & Eve, so we thought it was high time we gave you all an update on what’s been going on!

In November we hosted our first Drag King Workshop Weekend in collaboration with award winning drag king Louis Cyfer, and founder of the Women’s Comedy Network, Natalie Diddams at our partner venue, Theatre Deli Sheffield. (Sidenote: Go support their fundraiser to support this brilliant indie arts space!)

13 participants from across the North of England and the Midlands joined us to learn skills in makeup, character development, gender as performance and creating comedic material, with an informal sharing at the end of the weekend. Feedback from participants was very positive, and we gained a lot of insight into what worked, and where we could push this talent development further. Comments from participants included;

‘I liked the thought, love and organisation that went into the weekend, it was wonderful. I felt very safe and cared for’.

‘I learnt it’s okay to take time and to take up space’.

Jason Andrew treated us to some vogue dance at Cast.

A few days after our Drag King Weekender we headed over to Cast in Doncaster for our first Donny event, A Reyt Northern edition of queer cabaret, A Reyt Queer Do. Louis Cyfer was back for hosting duties with performances by House of Ghetto’s Jason Andrew, and up and coming talents, Ding Frisby, Spent Reznor and Donny Lad. An audience of 60 people turned out and we were thrilled with the support, and to meet so many new faces. There was a lot of laughter in the room that night, and the 6 weeks of outreach work in the run up to the event clearly paid off. Thanks to Cast for their support in developing our audience! Doncaster folk commented

‘Thanks for an amazing night, it made hump day bright and beautiful’.

Rapper Bad Lay – Dee

We rounded off November with a big queer party and cabaret back at Theatre Deli with A Reyt Queer Do 5. This ‘Shine Like a Diamond’ edition was hosted by non – binary rapper Bad Lay Dee with performances by poet Maz Hedgehog, theatre maker Victoria Firth and drag kings Sveto Slava and Dickhead Dave Debonair. DJ Chardine Taylor – Stone from punk band Big Joanie ensured everyone got a chance to raise the roof once the performances were done.

In January we collaborated with DocFest to produce a cosy film screening at Yellow Arch. We chose to screen the brilliant documentary SILVANA, about Swedish rapper Silvana Imam, after seeing this film at Doc/Fest in 2018. The film follows Imam’s rise to fame, her experience as an immigrant in Sweden and new romance with Swedish lesbian pop star, Beatrice Eli. Cake and cosy vibes were enjoyed by all, and we think it’s is fair to say most of the audience fell hard for this lesbian power duo!

Silvana Imam and Beatrice Eli giving face

In between running all these events we successfully recruited a new Assistant Producer, Emma, who brings with her a wealth of marketing and event experience. We’ve also had some fab new volunteers join the team and been recruiting a new board of directors (more news on that coming soon) and planning our events for 2020.

Currently, Andro & Eve is featured in a new exhibition to celebrate LGBT+ History Month at Sheffield’s Central Library. It’s great to see this sort of visibility and recognition, especially at a time when mainstream media seems intent on sowing division between different communities.

We’re also gearing up for our biggest drag king cabaret to date, The Kingdom Come on 21st March at Abbeydale Picture House. It’s going to be a special Under the Sea Edition! Hosted by star on the rise Christian Adore and featuring a line up of ridiculously hot and talented drag kings, its going to be a night to remember.

Christian Adore is headed to Sheffield. Hold onto your hats!

We’re forever grateful for those in our community who have gone before, making space for the LGBT+ community to come together, and are proud to be continuing this work. But we know only too well how precarious the creation of queer friendly spaces are. Want to support your LGBT+ community now and help us continue this work? Then nab a ticket and come feel the mer love at The Kingdom Come! See you then!

A special thanks to all those who continue to support our work, giving their time, money or expertise to help us grow, and Arts Council England for funding much of the work of the last 6 months.

KW x

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