As part of Women’s History Month the Southbank Centre are holding their annual Women of the World festival from the 7th-11th of March. It seeks to celebrate women and girls, and look at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. Southbank Centre's WOW – Women of the World festival is a global network of festivals which provides a platform for celebrating what has been achieved, and exploring all the ways we can change the world for the better.
In the year that marks the 100th anniversary since some women got the vote in the UK, and when #MeToo shook the world, we bring together artists, writers, politicians, comedians, activists and more for the 8th annual WOW London at Southbank Centre.
We caught up with the actor Lucy Jane Parkinson, the star of the one-woman show Joan, which opens on the 7th at WOW. In the multiple-character show, Parkinson plays "gender warrior" Joan of Arc, as well as effortlessly dragging up as the male characters who seek to defy her. The play puts a contemporary twist on the traditional story of Joan of Arc, using it as a framework to explore themes of history and gender identity.
What does it mean to be a drag king?
Being a Drag King is a huge honor and a curse. It’s not yet properly hit the mainstream like Drag Queens have and so getting work can be tough but fortunately some of us have been very lucky. Managers of some venues have taken chances on us and given us a platform to express our art .I feel like I’m trying to pick up from where Hetty King left off . female masculinity is a performance art that has always been sidelined because it is powerful and it’s power is infinite and unknown
How has the drag community reacted to you and your show?
The queens of London and kings of USA have been super supportive. Everyone has been rooting for the show to be successful and in my eyes it has gone beyond expectations in its impact on young LGBTQ+ people and beyond .
What inspired the character of Joan?
You would have to ask Lucy J Skilbeck the director this one as it was their choice. But in terms of character construction she is a parody of myself and mine and Skilbeck’s idea of joan .The way we represent Joan and her journey is fun, inviting and safe. I love performing it so much because each show is different every night depending on the audience .
What can audiences expect from your show?
Well .... there’s a fair bit of dragging up on stage and a couple of interesting costume changes , highs and lows , original songs and dance routines.. that’s as much as you’re getting out of me
What does Women's History Month mean to you?
I have a mixture of emotions . I obviously appreciate the light shining on the plight of women and their rights . But , I don’t feel like we should only dedicate one month to women’s history . I think it should be celebrated and investigated all year long .
What does gender mean for you?
I’m struggling to answer this one . It’s such a broad question for such a loaded term . In the past It has meant war . It has meant division . It has meant confusion and self hatred but now with shows like JOAN it means fluidity , possibility and a pure disregard of the binary constructs of social oppression
What's next for you?
I’m going to be touring JOAN to Malta and then I am starting a new project with the Dukes theatre in Lancaster . Which Is a queer version of The Three Musketeers .
Lucy Jane Parkinson performs JOAN at Southbank Centre's WOW - Women of the World festival on 7 March. Tickets here.
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