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. 

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.

Open Mic Slots: A Reyt Queer Do

Heard about our next event? A Reyt Queer Do: Electric Dreams Edition is on Saturday 16th February at Theatre Deli Sheffield, and is the 80’s themed queer party you’ve been waiting for! And now its your chance to perform in front of our friendly and supportive audience…

Drag King Louis Cyfer will be hosting a stage for queer performance within this event, and we have several open mic slots available for new acts, or new work you want to test out in front of a live audience. Drag, comedy, clowning, queerlesque, song, anything goes, as long as it will entertain. In return for you performing one 3 – 5 minute act we’ll provide refreshments and up to £20 reimburse travel expenses.

To apply for one of our open mic slots, please send us

  • The name of your act
  • A short bio about you (where are you based, experience, a tagline for your act)
  • A 2 minute video showing us an extract of your act or performance. If there is already a video online of you performing this act somewhere, you can send us the link.

Deadline to apply: 10am Wednesday 30th January. Priority for slots will go to those based in Yorkshire. We look forward to hearing from you! If you have any questions please drop us a line.

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