Park Slope theater organization hosts ‘Drag Performance Workshop’ for children

The Brooklyn Arts Exchange will host the “Drag Performance Workshop,” which hope will engage local youth in an important conversation about gender identity.
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A Park Slope theater class is inviting youngsters to don gender-bending costumes and perform on stage as characters of the opposite sex on Nov. 7.

The event at Brooklyn Arts Exchange on Fifth Avenue, dubbed “Drag Performance Workshop,” is designed as a fun, playful way to introduce children to the complex issues surrounding gender identity, according to an organizer.

“We’re using theater and performance as a vehicle to explore important issues of identity,” said Lucia Scheckner. “By participating in this workshop, and by trying on a notion of gender that is more fluid than the traditional ‘male and female’ — you start to actually understand these issues more.”

At the workshop, the kids will learn the ins-and-outs of theater-based drag, including acting classes, makeup tutorials, and dance instructions to ensure they look — and feel — like members of the opposite sex, according to Scheckner.

“There’ll be dance activities as well — figuring out how you’re going to be in your body as a character,” she said. “It’s a chance for kids to move around to different songs and feel liberated in their bodies.”

Children ages eight-and-up can attend the workshop without a parent, and younger Brooklynites can attend with a guardian — where they will learn and engage in a variety of activities centered around gender fluidity, said Scheckner.

“It will begin with an introductory ice-breaking experience, that will transition into…actually creating content with each other,” she said. “And then, there’ll be group work and a period of performance and reflection.”

Children will learn about the cultural history of drag as they perform dances and lip sync.
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Scheckner expects between 20 and 25 people — including both children and parents — to attend the workshop, where thespians young and old will gain a more in-depth understanding of gender roles than they would by attending some stodgy lecture.

“A lot of the time in schools…it might be more like a town hall, or an instructive experience,” she said. “This is more creative and exploratory.”
The progressive theater class follows the rise of Kings County drag kid Desmond Napoles, 11, who made headlines in December after preforming at Meserole Street gay bar 3 Dollar Bill in Williamsburg.

That appearance sparked intense controversy from conservative and pro-life news sites, and Napoles’ family was subsequently bombarded with death threats and forced to endure months of drop-in visits from social workers.

Scheckner said she understands the possibility of backlash from some less open-minded community members — even in the comparatively liberal Park Slope — but so far the reception has been positive.

“There may be people who are upset by it, and I guess we’ll deal with that,” she said. “As of now we haven’t received any controversial remarks.”

“Drag Performance Workshop” at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange [421 Fifth Ave. near Eighth Street in Park Slope. www.youth.bax.org/home]. Nov. 7 at 5:30 pm. $5–$25.

Kelindah Schuster will facilitate the “Drag Performance Workshop” on Nov. 7.
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Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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