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. 

Launching our Cabaret College!

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.

Cabaret College poster. For kings, queens and all in between. 19 August - 30 September. Tickets available via Tickets for good. Apply via a Google Form

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.

To secure a place on the course, please apply via our simple Google form by 5pm on Thursday 30 July. Successful applicants will be notified the following week.

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.

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!

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