Barbican Theatre are thrilled to welcome acclaimed performer, Guy Woolf, to their intimate Plymouth stage this weekend (Saturday 16 November), with his smash hit one woman drag play Becoming Electra: A Queer Mitzvah.
“I am delighted and excited to be bringing BECOMING ELECTRA: A QUEER MITZVAH to Plymouth. Electra is not a girl, not yet a woman, staring down the barrel of who she’s going to be, on the eve of her 18th birthday party, trying to discover unity within herself when the different facets of her identity feel so at odds. Through songs and flashbacks, Electra wrestles with this question; can she tell her queer friends she’s Jewish and her Jewish friends she’s queer? You’re invited to her party to find out.”
Despite only just turning 18 this is not Electra’s first night out (she’s got a fake ID that says she’s 28). She has performed with Drag supergroup DENIM for 8 years including at Soho Theatre, a set at Glastonbury with Florence and the Machine and a particular highlight performing at the Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone, where Kate Moss left the glowing review “I think they’re called Denim”. This is, however, her first time going solo. That’s right, she is the Beyoncé, the Zayn Malik or the Camilla Cabello of DENIM.
“Electra was born when I was encouraged by my friend and drag inspiration Glamrou [Amrou Al Kadhi, writer, performer and activist] to audition for DENIM. Glamrou made the point that drag is about creating a different species: they encouraged me to use my rock voice to create a punk-rock chick. I used my experiences – of tutoring privately educated young people with heaps of privilege but not necessarily love at home and of working with champagne socialists – to create a character whose life was full of irony: a person of privilege and wealth, combined with well-meaning liberalism and feelings of deep loneliness and a lack of love.”
“Performing as Electra allows me to be visible as Jewish and to say what I feel about anti-Semitism and the complexities of identity through the disarming language of comedy, song and drag. In many ways Electra empowers me and educates me to be a better person, more aware of other minority experiences. And in another way she is like therapy because any bad stuff that happens to me can be passed on to her to deal with and wrestle through.
Personally, I have grappled with my identity for many years. In a world of polarisation – Left/Right, leave/remain, like/dislike, Britney/Christina – we are pulled in so many different directions and forced to choose binaries and pick sides. My personal experiences of discrimination and racially-motivated abuse – being punched, spat on and called “kike” – made me realise that there was a real need to be a visible and proud Jew in a time of rising anti-Semitism from the Left and Right wings of politics.”
Becoming Electra: A Queer Mitzvah is written by supremely talented Isla van Tricht (playwright and lyricist whose work has been performed in London, Edinburgh and off-Broadway) after Guy approached her to create a one-person show in which Electra could explore her ideas with more time and space, with story, humour, and music. The piece was programmed by JW3 (London’s Jewish Cultural Centre) for a one night performance before a three-night sell-out run at the Other Palace. Off the back of those performances, Becoming Electra is heading out on the road touring venues across the UK, including Barbican Theatre Plymouth on Saturday 16 November (7:30pm)
Tickets £13.50 / £11.50. book at barbicantheatre.co.uk/whats-on or call 01752 267131. Subject to availability tickets can also be bought on the door from 6:30pm on the night.
Guy Woolf is also holding a Creating Character workshop at Barbican Theatre on the afternoon of Saturday 16 November, from 2pm – 5pm. The three hour workshop explores how to create characters, aimed at young and emerging performers (ages 16+)
Participants will leave with practical ideas for creating character that they can use if they are cast in a role, or independently creating their own work – an increasingly necessary route in our industry.
Techniques explored in this workshop can help for traditional theatre roles, devising, writing, creating stand-up or cabaret personas and sketch comedy. Workshop places cost £11.50. Or book the workshop and a ticket to Becoming Electra that evening for £20. The workshop is supported by Barbican Theatre’s Thrive Emerging Artists programme. For more information visit barbicantheatre.co.uk/thrive