Posted on February 08, 2017
You are cordially invited to a public lecture by Bryce Lease, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. The lecture is entitled 'Dragging rights, queering publics: realness, self-fashioning and the Miss Gay Western Cape pageant'.
Date: Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Venue: Department of UP Arts: Virtual Classroom, Room 2-21, Old Arts Building
Analysing the Miss Gay Western Cape (MGWC) pageant held annually in Cape Town, I am seeking to unpack the methodological questions that have arisen from my attempts to forge bridges between Western queer theory and local articulations of gender identity and alternative sexualities, and analyse the relationship between post-apartheid South African national identity and global gay rights, and between new postcolonial directions in queer theory and the sexual geographies of Cape Town that are bounded by race and economic privilege. I will attempt to demonstrate the modes in which the MGWC pageant is attended by restrictive rules and discourses around gender and sexuality, while simultaneously producing a space to reimagine and rearticulate the transformative potential around these categories. Similar to any counter-public, MGWC produces a self-awareness among members of a subordinate social status, which enables, rather than disempowers, new forms of exchange. What previously would have been seen as a private matter is made relevant to the public and a valid subject of common concern. Questions around the embodiment of alternative sexualities and trans identities will be foregrounded. The conditions of the performances are themselves in flux, as has been seen in the crucial and significant changes in style over the past decade. I will consider how 'realness' continues to be pursued in an effort to expose distinctions between lived and imagined realities, while also functioning as a generative category by operatively collapsing such distinctions.
About the presenter:
Bryce Lease is Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre at Royal Holloway, University of London. Recent articles he has written have appeared in The Drama Review, Theatre Research International and the Contemporary Theatre Review, and his monograph After '89: Polish theatre and the political was published by Manchester University Press in 2016. Between 2013 and 2015, he and Dr Siona O'Connell led a project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council called 'Sequins, self & struggle: performing and archiving sex, place and class in pageant competitions in Cape Town' (http://sequins-self-and-struggle.com). He and Dr Nadia Davids edited a special issue of Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies on queer South African archives and performance, which will be published in April 2017.
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