Loud & Queer Cabaret: Queering The Way
Hosted by Darrin Hagen and Kristy Harcourt
Sunday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 p.m.
La Cité Francophone (8527–91 St.)
$30 at the door
Sharing your art in public can be a complicated, intimidating experience. It requires the confidence candidly present your words, ideas and emotions in an open forum with the hopeful expectation of forging a connection with an audience — especially difficult when you’re communicating a non-traditional viewpoint. This, for writer, drag performer and actor Darrin Hagen, makes the Loud & Queer Cabaret incredibly important as an open venue for the voices of the LGBTQ community.
“Loud & Queer is about allowing a marginalized community speak with its own uncensored voice,” Hagen says. “And it’s not just theatre that is presented — the material runs the stylistic gamut from short stories, plays and excerpts from novels to poetry, songs, spoken word and short films. The agenda is basically one of showcasing Queer artists, and through that experience many an artist has found his or her footing — creating the environment to launch a career. Artists are born at Loud & Queer.”
Hagen’s voice is one of the strongest in the Alberta arts community. His first drag show, The Edmonton Queen: Not A Riverboat Story won him an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Outstanding New Work, and since then, he’s only been gaining more ground, becoming the first Drag Artiste in Canada to host a national television series when his show Who’s On Top? debuted in 2003. But amidst his own projects, supporting the Queer arts community continues to be crucial for Hagen — the Loud & Queer Cabaret celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and will be accompanied by the release of the Queering the Way: The Loud & Queer Anthology, featuring work showcased at Loud & Queer over the years.
But ultimately, Loud & Queer simply presents another facet of human life: regardless of the orientation of the audience, a key idea for Hagen is that the shows highlight an understanding between presenter and viewer.
“My plays — and the words of so many of my collaborators and peers from my community — play to audiences that are diverse and widespread,” he says. “Some of the stories that Queer artists tell are simple and familiar — a friend’s passing, or a conflict with a parent or lover or a childhood dream. These stories help break down homophobia at the source — they are part of the human experience, and no one who hears them can deny that.”
The writing and performance showcased in the Loud & Queer shows is distinguished as “queer,” but Hagen doesn’t fear the idea of labels. He says, rather, that this is simply a necessary step in acknowledging the community that creates the art they bring to the stage. And as the Loud & Queer Cabaret continues to thrive, the community it supports asserts a whole variety of its own distinct voices.
“One person’s ‘labelling’ is another’s ‘identifying,’ ” Hagen says. “I grew up in a world where Queer was invisible. Identifying work as ‘Queer’ reinforces the idea that we are a distinct population, with a distinct cultural influence. To not recognize that is to ignore, in many cases, the impetus that drove the artistic inspiration in the first place.
“Assimilation is another road to invisibility,” he continues. “I write because of what I need to say. There are things I need to say because of the things I have experienced. And the things I have experienced, I experienced because I’m gay and living in Alberta. To attempt to untangle those threads would be impossible.”
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