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A Midsummer Night’s Dream gets ‘Shakesqueered’

By Attitude Magazine

Mischief and mayhem will descend on East London’s Arcola Theatre from December 14-19 as their acclaimed #Shakesqueer version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream returns for a strictly limited run.

Writer Patrick Cash (Queers, The Clinic at The Kings Head) infuses Shakespeare’s original with a contemporary LGBT+ flavour. Expect laughs, drag, cabaret, dance and a little bit of nudity – the perfect antidote to Christmas Panto. Below, Arcola Queer Collective introduce their characters…

The Lovers. Picture by Miriam Mahon

The Fairy King and Queen

Rubyyy Jones – Oberon

“This #shakesqueer version of Oberon is more faceted and fierier than I imagine the original man to be. Bringing the depth and understanding of someone who is deeply feminine and masculine simultaneously allows my Oberon to play with higher stakes, strong fluidity in emotion and beyond any binary gender’s constraints.”

Rubyyy Jones is an award winning queer performer and practitioner, originally from Canada, creating across Europe for the last decade.  Profiled in the Sunday Times Magazine as an innovator in neo burlesque and in the Evening Standard Magazine as a leading voice in sexuality and identity, Rubyyy’s work continues to push boundaries, acceptance and visibility.  

Miss Cairo – Titania

“Mostly seen passed out on her bower, Titania is the ethereal entity which, together with her partner Oberon, run Athens. Drag queen, transgender, stripper, exposer, alcoholic, madame, agitator, Titania is given a contemporary queerness through characterisation and personification of current issues. “ 

Miss Cairo is a Cabaret Comrade and can often been seen deconstructing social issues, pushing boundaries, and generally questioning life and all its glory. Also an activist, Miss Cairo is currently trying to forge a safe space for People of Colour to be integrated into the arts.

The Lovers, Titania, Oberon. Picture by Miriam Mahoney.

The Lovers

Damien Kileen – Helena

“Helena was always destined to be a young gay man. Like a leaf tossed by the wind, she follows Demetrius around, her love never returned.  She is lost, fragile, overly trusting and whiny as hell. The very definition of a thousand twinks London has swallowed whole.”

Damien is a writer, performer, model and sometime columnist. He trained at Rose Bruford College, London and appeared in The Clinic at The Kings Head. When he is not performing, Damien can often be found shirtless at Ku Bar (in a purely professional capacity). 

Phil Rhys Thomas – Demetrius

“Demetrius is pretty confused and pretty angry about it: in the original version, he’s set to marry Hermia but his heart lies with Helena. In our version, Helena is a boy and Demetrius not only has to come to terms with that but also his HIV+ status. So his is a pretty big emotional journey.”

Phil grew up acting on stage and TV (check him out in an old NHS anti-smoking ad in which he suddenly doesn’t fancy a girl because she lights a fag, not because she’s… a girl), and then became a writer. He is also developing a play for BBC Radio about a man in a box.

Oberon and Titania. Picture by Miriam Mahony

Krishna Istha – Hermia

“Hermia is a self-defined glitter butch lesbian who is in love with Lysander, a handsome queer who hangs on her every word. While her life revolves around her queer love, her relationship with her mum suffers who denies her queer existence. She also hates boys, btw.”

Krishna is an Indian genderqueer performance maker and actor. Their art focuses on themes of queer culture, gender politics and feminism. They most recently performed in New York and London as part of the Just Like A Woman Festival. 

Bex Large – Lysander

“Lysander is a poet, sensitive with an inner strength and bite. This young lover takes risks, searching for the freedom and standing up to authority to be with Hermia, the women she loves. All she wants is for her love to be accepted. For the world to accept her queer heart.”

Bex is a creative queer, cat lover, and community artist working within the mental health & wellbeing field. She is also a writer and project manager for an LGBTQ charity.

Titania. Picture by Miriam Mahoney.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs at Arcola Theatre from Monday 14th December – Saturday 19th December, evenings at 7.30pm, Saturday matinee at 3pm. Tickets are £12/£10.

In order to raise funds for future projects, the Arcola Queer Collective we will be hosting a fundraising Gala Performance on the Friday 18th December. All tickets are £25. Includes admission to the show, a drink, post-show discussion and music from Rudi Douglas.