Joan // Milk Presents

Joan filters historical qualities of gender through a fourteenth century legend and a classic cabaret vibe. It’s centred around an almost music-hall central figure in the person of champion drag king Lucy Jane Parkinson, who takes on roles and costumes to reframe Joan of Arc through intimate connection and historical reflection. It says valuable things about ideas of gender and society’s relationship to the changing dynamics of its representation - Joan of Arc not just as a legend or symbol, but a real woman who put on armour at a time it was unheard of. Joan with short hair. Joan as a canvas for drawn-on moustaches and someone whose clothes change their movement. Joan as a peasant girl and as a saint, as a soldier and as a leader. 

Four corner mirrors form a cross in the centre of the performance space, with the audience positioned between them. They look across to each other throughout. It’s delivered in the round to facilitate this easy interaction, alongside the participation required at several key points. Two men are invited up to interact with Joan, teaching her their walk, or standing in for an imagined partner. There’s an implicit questioning of their behaviour in their laughter and conversation. The presence on stage of audience members encourages this examination and perhaps reveals some assumptions about gender that might otherwise never be actively considered. The audience laugh with them in their unsure stance and their self-consciousness as they are asked to perform their maleness. 

As funny as the show is, as good natured and enjoyable, there are also moments of loss and hope stand out in stark contrast to the rest of the easy monologue. Parkinson looks to heaven with the same wide-eyed hope as Renée Falconetti. Another Joan, represented in another form, but one as serious as any other, meditating on loss, identity and the burden of history. 

-    Lewis Church


Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Joan - Milk Presents

Joan of Arc -

Gender Identity - Young Stonewall

Gender Variance Around the World Over Time - Teen Vogue

Le Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (Extract) - Starring Renée Falconetti, directed by Theodor Dreyer (1928)

Show Up // Peter Michael Marino

Woody Allen’s statement, made years ago, that ‘80 percent of life is showing up’, is the theory behind Peter Michael Marino’s show, Show Up. The production is more a happening for the audience than something to sit and watch. As a group, they are making something happen just because they are there. Marino, too, believes that showing up is most of the battle, not just for entertainment but for living a good life. ‘Doing is so much easier than thinking about it’, he says.

Research has shown that he has a good point. He provides a wild, unpredictable ride for his audience commenting on his own social anxiety and performance challenges. When the improvisation begins to happen, one can see the visible changes in audience attitude. They become absorbed in creating a brand new original show based on their own random contributions before the actual story begins. When each person becomes involved in thinking of incidents from their childhood, about addiction or their love life, they are focusing on sharing with others rather than whatever personal problems they might have. Any anxiety or shyness evaporates because everyone is involved together in a group endeavour. In fact, any situation where a group works together builds confidence in the individual members. By including his audience in his production, Marino creates an unforgettable experience and turns audiences into participants and co-creators.

Marino tells his audience that creating these stories from incidents they provide lifts him from depression - the unsaid implication is that it does for everyone involved in the show as well. Psychologists tell us he is right. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate. Even reaching out to close family members and friends can be tough. Compound that with the feelings of shame and the guilt you may feel at neglecting your relationships. Unless you reach out to others, you’re in a downward spiral you’re unable to stop. This dark cloud need not be permanent. The good news is that social support is absolutely essential to depression recovery. Staying connected to other people and the outside world will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. In showing up to Show Up, people find themselves totally involved with a group of strangers in an enjoyable project.  They love the show but what they do not realize is that they also ARE the show.

- Lynn Ruth Miller


Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Show Up - Peter Michael Marino

Woody Allen on Showing Up

Social Anxiety - MOODJUICE Self-Help Guide (NHS)

Audience Participation - Cas McCullough

Reaching Out to Cure Depression -