The ageing drag queen

A live art experience created by Edge Hill University academics capturing the bizarre life of an ageing drag queen will be unveiled to the public this week to celebrate the Homotopia festival.

The prestigious annual event in Liverpool this autumn presents visual arts, performance, film and debate that reflect the non-heterosexual experience.

This year’s theme is ‘traditional family values’ and three tutors from Edge Hill University have had their collaborative work selected to exhibit for a special VIP launch party on 25th October.

Watch footage from the event here.

Council House Movie Star is an immersive arts installation work created by Senior Lecturer in Performance Mark Edward in partnership with Senior Lecturers in Media Rosa Fong and Dr Mark Fremaux. It has been funded by Edge Hill University.

It captures the weird and wonderful characteristics of the everyday life of Gale Force, an ageing WAG/HAG queen and failed child star of OMO Washing Powder in her run-down council house.

Watch the making of the movie here.

Mark Edward said: “It is an issue I feel very strongly about. There is a lot of work around youth in performance but very little about the ageing performer, especially drag queens. I have a lot of friends in this business who feel cast aside; they don’t know which way to turn and what to do next with their careers because they are made to feel old within the industry. This interdisciplinary research attempts to explore the social, political and cultural issues into ageing vulnerability.

“It has been such a challenging project to work on but all the blood, sweat and make-up has been worth it because it is the first piece of research of its kind. The work displaces the safe context of a theatre performance or nightclub drag act presenting a visible force of a drag queen going about everyday life activity in the confinements of her council housing.

“This immersive exhibition will be important in addressing the social and cultural contexts and geographies of the viewership and how this impacts on their understanding, appreciation, negotiation and experience of ageing for those who have non-heterosexual experiences.”

Audiences can visit the gallery exhibition at the Camp & Furnace, Greenland Street, Liverpool from the 30th October until the 11th of November. It includes 7ft fine art paintings of the highly charged persona Gale Force by local artist Pete Bennett, a life-size council house, special guest appearances by Gale Force and her ‘family’, and a fun and quirky film.

Mark added: “I want audiences to see beneath the persona of Gale Force, to get a glimpse of what it’s like behind closed doors, away from the bright lights, and to have a better understanding of the issues facing ageing, gay performers.”

Gary Everett, Director of Homotopia, said: “Council House Movie Star is one of the key elements of this year’s festival and contests traditional family values and explores and interrogates ageing from a performative and queer perspective. This is both timely and relevant. The research has been thorough and well documented.”

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