The art of drag may not seem the most obvious choice of degree study, but one Lancashire university has become the first in the UK to add it to their course offerings.
Edge Hill, in Ormskirk, has had a pioneering module entitled The Drag Kings and Drag Queens of Performance officially validated and will be on offer to third year undergraduates on performing arts and dance and drama courses from January.
The module will look at relationships between performance, gender, sexualities and identity and the ways in which performance could be used in the service of specific political and cultural agendas.
It will look at a variety of topics from, drag performance, costume, lipsyncing and the use of humour and is underpinned by wider theories and histories of sexuality, gay and lesbian theatre, transgender identities, and drag.
Senior lecturer Mark Edward devised the course. He is a performer, dance maker, writer and educator of dance and has worked extensively in the dance field including with Rambert Dance Company (Ballet Rambert), Senza Tempo Dance Theatre Company in their world premiere of Lazurd, Penny Arcade (Andy Warhol film ‘star’) in her Bad Reputations, and Julie Tolentino (Madonna’s collaborator) on the Bottom Project.
Mark said: “ Despite the fact that performers have been ‘dragging up’ since Shakespearean times, this module is completely unique in exploring the crossing of boundaries in terms of gender and performance.”
He added: “As part of undergraduate studies, this module not only explores drag as a highly camp performance art, it also engages with complex gender, feminist and queer theory to explore the social and political implication of ‘doing gender’ in performance. Drag as a performance art form has seen a relative decline in the past decade, yet there are new and exciting emerging forms coming through which makes this module all the more relevant to performance contexts. There’s a lot more to drag studies than wigs, make-up and high heels.”
Mark is currently researching ageing performers and drag queens as well as examining inclusivity and equality for boys and men who dance.