Diversity in drama celebration and workshop at The Beaney (16 July)

Katherine Moss

Kent’s Beyond the Binary team will host a day of fun and discovery at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge (Canterbury) on Saturday 16 July from 10am to 5pm.

This event, which is free and suitable for all ages, is ideal for anyone interested in popular performance and theatre, or in gender and identity.

It will include a pop-up exhibition of the history of pantomime and variety from the 1800s to the present day and a range of family-oriented activities, including a ‘Fun Fact Hunt’, ‘Design a Dame’, and ‘Panto Reimagined’. The team will also run an afternoon workshop exploring pantomime dames, principle boys and male impersonators like Lottie Walker, Adam Borzone, Naomi Paxton and Andre Vincent. Spaces for the afternoon session are limited so please reserve your FREE ticket here.

There will also be an opportunity for people to share their memories and experiences of pantomime and music hall with the research team, and to shape the development of the performance Rowdy Dowdy Boys and Saucy Seaside Girls, which will be performed at the Gulbenkian Theatre on 29 September (link to book tickets).

The event is part of an ongoing collaborative research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, and led by Dr Helen Brooks (Reader in Theatre and Cultural History) in Kent’s School of Arts, with colleagues Dr Oliver Double (Reader in Drama and Theatre) and Karen Brayshaw (Manager of the University’s Special Collections & Archives).

The project has brought together students, researchers, performance-makers and academics to undertake original research into historic music hall and pantomime archives. Together they have uncovered new perspectives on performance and gender, both in the past and today.

Dr Brooks said: ‘We’re really excited to be visiting The Beaney on 16 July. The team have spent the last few months digging through archive boxes and uncovering incredible forgotten stories about how performers over the last 200 years have shaped changing ideas about gender. We’re looking forward to sharing these at The Beaney and also hearing from visitors about their own perspectives and memories.’

Further to the event at The Beaney there will also be a touring pop-up exhibition and a showcase lecture-concert co-created with non-binary performers The Lunatraktors and comedian Mark Thomas. This will premiere at the Gulbenkian on Thursday 29 September. Free tickets are available here.