‘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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)!
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.
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!
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’.
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’.
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!
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.
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.
We are excited to share that we are seeking new people to join the Andro and Eve board.
New board members will be part of an exciting period of growth and development for the company, helping us achieve our vision to celebrate queer culture through memorable events that inspire.
Our directors support the governance of Andro and Eve, contributing their expertise to the organisation’s growth, sustainability and reputation of excellence in the field of queer arts and events. We recognise that each board member will bring a unique set of skills to the role of director, and therefore are offering this opportunity on an individual basis to see if there is a match between your skills and the needs of the company.
This role is offered on an expenses only basis, with the understanding that you are giving your time to grow and develop the work of Andro and Eve. We understand that you may want to get involved for a variety of reasons, and welcome applications from people from a range of sectors, backgrounds or experience levels.
Deadline for applications is 9am Wednesday 8 January. Informal interviews will be held in Sheffield from the 13th January onwards. Full details on the role and how to apply available to download here:
Andro and Eve is all about bringing our community together, and one of the ways we do that is by working with a wonderful team of volunteers who give their time to help make our events happen. We’re looking to expand our volunteer team and would love to hear from you if you’ve got some time and energy to help out.
We’re looking for folks who can be at events, interact with members of the public, are happy handling money and love a spot of decorating. (If you’ve been to one of our events, you’ll know our approach to decor is more is more!) Some of our volunteers also help out with stage management and sound. We’re also keen to hear from people who would be up for distributing our posters and flyers, this is an important part of helping us reach new people.
Typically, we ask volunteers wanting to help with events to work with us on evenings and weekends, and for shifts of 6 – 8 hours. We always provide food, breaks and plenty of support for our team, and as a volunteer, of course you’ll get to see behind the Andro and Eve scenes. We also organise socials for our team and offer event training throughout the year.
Here’s what some of our volunteers have said about working with us…
‘After feeling like a lost queer in Sheffield during my time as a student, volunteering for Andro & Eve was one of the best things I could have done for myself, whilst also contributing to the local community. Meeting younger and older LGBTQ+ people who were all so vibrant and positive opened me up to a whole new world and I feel so much more connected to my queer identity. If you feel like you are in a similar state of mind to how I was, or simply want to have fun and contribute your time to some of the best queer events this planet has seen – volunteer for Andro and Eve! Without them and the caring people who dedicate their time there, I’d still be looking for my queer identity’.
‘Being part of Andro and Eve is like having a fabulous queer family. I’ve volunteered now for a number of their events and have loved every minute, we always have such a laugh and I love that its supporting and developing a strong queer presence in the Steel City’….. Laura.
‘Getting involved with Andro and Eve has been a great decision. There’s something really powerful about coming together and putting on these fabulous events to celebrate aspects of our queer culture. The team are so friendly, and its been a pleasure to meet so many new friends from those involved’.
We’d love to hear from folks who are available on the 13th and 30th November for our events in Sheffield and Doncaster, and for dates after this too. If the above sounds good to you, and you have some availability then drop us a line using the contact form here. Thanks!
We’re delighted to announce that we’re on the lookout for an enthusiastic Assistant Producer to join the Andro and Eve team. This freelance, fixed term role is offered both as a way for us to grow our capacity, and for someone relatively new to the arts or events industry to gain valuable experience in event production and audience development.
We encourage applications from those with less visibility in the arts and are committed to a policy of equal opportunities which requires that all staff, freelance contractors, volunteers and artists are treated fairly irrespective of their age, race, ethnicity or national origin, gender, sexual orientation or any disability.
Deadline for applications is 10am Friday 25 October. Interviews will be held in Sheffield on Friday 1st November. Full details on the role and how to apply available to download here:
Short description of the act / style of performance
Where you are based
Whether you can perform at either night, or only Sheffield OR Doncaster.
A short bio of your performance experience (don’t worry if you have none, but do tell us why you want to take advantage of this opportunity)
A 3 – minute video of you performing. This could be a link to a video online, or send us a file to download.
We want to support Northern talent and highlight marginalised voices, so if this applies to you, please apply! Deadline for applications midday on 23/10/19. If you have any questions please also drop us a line. All applicants whether successful or not will be informed by 01/11/19.
If you’re planning on attending our DRAG KING WORKSHOP WEEKEND on 9 – 10 November and want to use either of these events as a way to debut the act you plan to create, we also encourage you to apply for a slot!
For the last 18 months we’ve offered sliding scale tickets for for all our events. This has been made possible through generous donations by our community when buying tickets, our limited edition pin badges, or through our fantastic raffles! (Huge thanks to the local Sheffield businesses, who have donated their goods towards this)*. We believe that everyone should have access to fantastic live performance, and feel welcome in warm, accessible spaces where they can be part of their community.
We’re really pleased to say that our Arts Council funding is enabling us to add more options, so a wider range of people can enjoy our live events. Our next event at Theatre Deli will use these ticket bands, so we ask you to be honest with yourself and your financial situation when buying tickets – that way those who really need the discounted tickets will benefit from the reduction in costs. A fuller description of each ticket band is below.
Huge thanks to Leeds Queer Film Festival who originally inspired us to introduce sliding scale ticket prices, who in turn adapted their ticket bands from The Green Bottle Sliding Scale by Califia Collective (califiacollective.org). A massive thanks also to the Andro and Eve Community who continue to contribute to our Pay it Forward Ticket Fund as well as the excellent Tickets For Good who have supported us throughout and whose booking fees support good causes. Everyone mentioned has helped make it the success it is, just keep at it! Queer solidarity forever! x
We are very excited to announce that less than a year since becoming a not for profit arts organisation, we have received funding from Arts Council England to support an exciting programme of work for Autumn 2019 – Spring 2020.
Our events continue to grow in scale and ambition, with the last, a drag king cabaret at Abbeydale Picture House, attracting an audience of 330 people. Building on this success we will produce another drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come at Abbeydale Picture House in March 2020, along with another edition of queer party and performance series, A Reyt Queer Do at Theatre Deli Sheffield on the 30th November.
The programme will also provide both training and performance opportunities for emerging artists in the Yorkshire region, as well as showcasing some of the UK’s most exciting queer performance. We are also excited to announce a new collaboration with CAST in Doncaster, enabling us to bring our feel good events to Doncaster, with the first such event, A Reyt Queer Do, planned for 13th November and hosted by award winning Drag King Louis Cyfer.
This month also marks a new phase for the organisation, which was originally founded by Rhiannon Scutt and Katherine Warman in 2016 to address the lack of safe, inclusive spaces for the LGBTQ+ community to enjoy queer culture in Sheffield. Having worked together creating queer events over the last three years, Rhiannon is now stepping down as a director of the board, and Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Katherine Warman, supported by the board of directors, will lead the company.
Rhiannon Scutt says ‘It has been a greatly fulfilling experience to nurture Andro & Eve from the seed of an idea and the tiny film night it started out as, to what it has become today. As lesbians in Sheffield, it was important to us that we offer an alternative, gentle night out, where the focus is fun and there is a sense of community. I’m proud to say I think we’ve achieved that time and time again. I wish Katherine and the team every success, and hope to support Andro & Eve events in the future as an attendee’
Natalie Diddams, Chair of the Andro and Eve board says, ‘we’re so grateful for the hard work and vital input Rhiannon has given to the organisation over the last three years. It’s been a pleasure working with Rhiannon and we wish her all the best with her future projects. We’re excited by the programme of work and confident that the plans we have, will help grow the community benefitting from our events to celebrate queer culture’.
We are also thrilled to announce a weekend of drag king performance workshops on the 9th – 10th November at Theatre Deli Sheffield. Participants will then have the opportunity to apply to perform at either CAST or Theatre Deli in one of the open mic slots showcasing new queer performance. The introduction of a Pay It Forward Ticket scheme in 2018 has enabled an increasing amount of audience members to attend events who may not otherwise have been able to access them, using donations from the public to support the scheme. The funding received will help support this provision of discounted and free tickets for those on lower incomes, as well as enhance accessibility for deaf and disabled audiences.
Katherine Warman comments, ‘It’s been an honour to work alongside Rhiannon the last three years and I’m so proud of what the team and we have achieved. The demand for our work is clear, with so many of our events in the last 18 months selling out in advance. I’m excited that this funding will help us work towards our vision to put South Yorkshire on the map for arts that explore LGBTQ+ lives, nurturing artists and the community we serve’.
On the 16th February 2019 we came to parrrrty at Theatre Deli Sheffield with A Reyt Queer Do: Electric Dreams Edition. This queer party was hosted by Louis Cyfer with queer performance from new acts including drag kings Jamie Pizazz and King Kitt and also featured drag star on the rise, Christian Adore. Hearing the whole audience join in with Louis Cyfer’s rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody was blummin brilliant.
The crowd did not disappoint with outfits to keep your eyes popping for days, some full 80’s glam / punk / new romantic / pop realness, others dragged it up to the nines. After the queer performance (and plenty cake, courtesy of Kelham Island Kitchen), Chardine Taylor Stone ramped up the sound and the sparkly dance floor was full.
Huge thanks to all the performers for bringing such talent and energy, to Theatre Deli for their support of our work and being lovely hosts and to Chardine Taylor Stone for the tunes. We’re eternally appreciative of our fantastic volunteers, without who, our night’s would not be the same, and of course those who came and shared in the queer joy, creating such a fab night for everyone. Until next time!