Joan, Wednesday, Barnsley Civic, www.barnsleycivic.co.uk
Rotherham drag king Lucy Jane Parkinson is combining her acting and performing skills in a one-woman show based on the story of Joan of Arc.
History’s greatest gender-warrior takes to the stage and Lucy plays multiple roles, dragging up as the men she defies in this smash-hit show.
Lucy is a female to male drag act whose name is LoUis CYfer. She won Drag Idol 2014, so was ideal of the role of the young 15th-century Frenchwoman who famously donned male armour to head an army in the Hundred Years’ War against England.
The Milk Presents production asks what happens when a disguise soon becomes something a lot more real and you have to fight for who you really are, and about what it means to stand out, stand up and stand alone.
The producers said: “The play unravels the intricacies of Joan’s defiance and subsequent demise, with Lucy Jane Parkinson morphing into the men that put her there. A solo show about belonging, gender and finding our own identity.”
There are also songs in the show, something that Lucy has a lot of experience of as a drag performer.
Wickersley-born Lucy said: “I drag up on stage, so everyone gets to see a different way of dragging up.
“It’s a funny show, there are elements that are improvised with the audience. I get them to play characters. It goes really well and there’s a big group element. One lot have bows and arrows, another have horses and there’s a male voice choir!
“Everybody gets really involved and it’s different every time.”
The show looks at a lot of issues around gender, identity and sexuality but Lucy stressed: “It’s not just for LGBT people but for everyone. It has a positive effect on them.
“I speak to young people who are trans and their parents, kids who are struggling to come out.
“It’s amazing to work with them, it blows your mind.
“Because of the writing of it, we’re not that in your face, not saying this is what it is, what you should think about it.
“We humanise Joan. The fact that she’s a northerner in the show, it’s more like the story is real. I’m really close to her.”
She has stayed in touch with a lot of young people she has met while on the show and helped many through difficult issues.
Lucy said: “I came to do drag because of being confused about my gender. I was studying for my masters degree but I knew I had to make this piece of work, I’m going to make something that reflects the world that we live in today.
“My whole mentality had suffered and I was really confused, it was the world that was telling me I was wrong. Drag was a way for me to release some of the tension.”
She talks to young people she has met through the show about finding their own way and making decisions about who they are in a world that is starting to accept people being more fluid about their gender identity.
“I came to realise that everyone’s got elements of female and male, you don’t have to sit strongly in one camp.”
A wise warrior, that Joan.