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!

 

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! 

New Acts Wanted!

Could you be the next Wesley Dykes? Got a new act you want to debut? Or test out a scratch performance in front of a friendly and supportive audience?

Open mic slots available

We’re on the look out for new queer performance to fill our open mic slots at our events at Cast in Doncaster on 13 November and Theatre Deli Sheffield on 30 November. We’re committed to developing talent in Yorkshire and hope by offering slots across two nights we’ll be able to programme as much Northern talent as possible.

For A Reyt Queer Do 4: Reyt Northern Edition (13 November) and A Reyt Queer Do: Shine Like a Diamond Edition (30 November) we’re on the lookout for any type / style of queer performance as long as its between 3 – 10 mins long. As well as getting to share your act with our wonderful community you’ll also get £50 to cover any expenses and some photos of your act.

To apply to perform please send the following  to [email protected]

  • Name of your act
  • 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!

A New Phase…

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’.

A Night of Electric Dreams…

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.

Louis Cyfer

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!

Strong party lewks

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.

The Kingdom Come #4

On December 1st 2018, we brought our drag king cabaret, The Kingdom Come back to Walkley Community Centre, Sheffield. The night was a sell out, with audience members rocking some amazing costumes and outfits. Its never too early for tinsel right?

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Host Don One was charm personified, his Brummie accent and smooth songs winning everyone round. Stellar performances came from Dick Slick, Loui Von Dini, Mo Torboat and Chiyo, who were warmly enveloped in the love from our audience.

Don 1
Host Don One from Birmingham!

As usual the cake sold faster than you can say hotcakes, and the Andro & Eve volunteers did a brilliant job of helping the night run smoothly. We want to say a huge thanks to them for giving their time to help at this night and the others we’ve produced in 2018.

Loui.jpg
Loui Von Dini had treats for us all…

A massive thank you to Walkley Community Centre for lending us their venue again, to all the local businesses who donated towards our raffle, and our audience for contributing to our Pay it Forward Ticket fund. This fund allows us to provide cheaper and free tickets to those who need them. We raised £245 from this event through raffle and online contributions alone! Thank you! Here’s to more super events in 2019. Have you got your ticket to A Reyt Queer Do: Electric Dreams edition on February 16th yet?!

All photos credited to Ndrika Anyika. See more of the night via our Facebook album! 

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Pirates came ashore for the evening…!
Mo 1
Mo Torboat. Spoken Word Artist. Musician. All round good egg..
Dick + Audience.jpg
Dick Slick serenaded the audience…
Chiyo 3.jpg
CHIYO

Celebrating Two Years

Today marks two years since the first Andro & Eve event at Cafe #9 with a screening of But I’m a Cheerleader. Last night we celebrated that anniversary in the best possible way, surrounded by the community we care so much about, at a special edition of A Reyt Queer Do.

When starting out, we had no idea we’d be producing events on the scale we are now, and we’re so pleased to be making space in Sheffield to celebrate queer culture. In the time since we founded Andro & Eve, the world can sometimes seems more hostile. Spaces where those often marginalised from the ‘mainstream’ can come together to celebrate and feel free, somehow seem more vital, and in a weird way, more radical. Our events are about creating a physical space where many different people can come together and enjoy culture that speaks to them. Welcoming new and familiar faces to the events gives us LIFE!

We want to say a huge thank YOU to everyone who has supported our work over the last two years. Whether that be through buying a ticket, pin badge, telling a mate about us, sharing one of our tweets, or contributing to our accessible ticket fund, you’ve helped this endeavour grow.

Special thanks go to our volunteers, without them we would not be where we are today. And one in particular who was our only helper for the first year of the venture! It has been brilliant welcoming new volunteers and building a team who help us create quality events that audiences love.

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Some of the Andro & Eve volunteer team with co-founders Rhiannon and Katherine

We also want to say thank you to the artists who have travelled to Sheffield to perform and brought such joy to our audiences. A special mention to Adam All and Apple Derrieres, creators of Boi Box in London, who supported us in creating our drag king cabaret – The Kingdom Come. And we want to mention the venues and organisations we’ve worked with who have given us space for free, or seed funding to cover event costs. These are Walkley Community Centre, Theatre Deli Sheffield, Broomhall Community Centre and She Fest. Thank you for believing in what we do and supporting our work.

We’ll be taking a break from running events over the summer, but we have plenty plans and much behind the scenes work going on, so watch this space for announcements about our future coming soon! You can also sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear news from Andro and Eve first.. Just sayin…!

Katherine and Rhiannon

 

 

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