Q&A with the creator and the performer of JOAN


Hot off multiple hit tours in the United Kingdom, popular drag king show JOAN is in Perth for Fringe World Festival. Written by Lucy Skillbeck and performed by Lucy Parkinson, JOAN has been lauded as one of the greatest drag king shows around. OUTInPerth sat down with its performer and writer/director. Below is our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

How has the show evolved between when it first debuted and now, as you get ready to perform it at Perth Fringe World?

Lucy Parkinson: The first show of JOAN was a real favourite of mine. Derby Theatre produced the piece and we made the show with them and opened there. It lasted 30 minutes longer than we anticipated, largely because audiences feel invited to chat. We had an avid Joan of Arc fan in the audience and the show took a wild turn as she chipped in throughout. We then had an impromptu gender q+a in the car park. Since then we have gone through maybe three big developments and around thirty drafts as we hone what we are doing and have a good time with new audiences. I can’t wait to meet audiences in Perth and see how the show moves with them. I hope they can understand my accent.

What about the show do you think resonates strongest with audiences?

LP: I think because the content is so current at the moment amongst  society . Also , 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 .

Lucy Skillbeck: I’m not totally sure… I find very occasionally you meet people who you artistically chime and combust with, and when Lucy started working with my words and bringing her own flair to the show it just worked, something intangible clicked. I think audiences can feel that, there is a joy and a love and a sense that the piece personally means something. People can read themselves into it and seem to emotionally connect with it in that way. It’s also very funny and charming, the songs really fly and you know you are in safe hands with Lucy doing her thing so beautifully.

Has previous audience responses shaped the show in anyway?

LP: I am always thinking on the spot and reading an audience, each one is new and they encounter the words and the work differently, that’s part of the fun.

LS: The whole show has morphed over time. I wouldn’t rewrite something based on an audience response, but I might move sections around to give the audience the best possible time with us. I think I’m always aware of when an audience is with us completely and if they are not I question why, what could I do to hook them in again at that moment.

What has been your favourite moment whilst touring the show?

LP: A favourite moment has to be when we performed the show in a pub in Derby – I asked to borrow some money and someone gave me some change – I put it in the fruit machine, doubled their money and gave them their quid back!

LS: I have many favourite moments with the show, but I particularly love the moment just before the audience enter. If I’m visiting the show we will do a quick warm up together and then let the first people in. I love having a company, a family of sorts in some ways.

JOAN is on at the The Round as part of Fringe World 2018. Tickets are available at fringeworld.com.au

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