From wrestling to drag kings – queer culture celebrated at festival
Drag king performers and a drag wrestling cabaret night are among the highlights of a festival celebrating LGBTQ+ arts and culture at the University of Bradford.
Right Queer Right Now (RQRN) will be held on campus over two successive weekends in February and March to coincide with LGBT+ History Month in February.
The first weekender of shows and activities is between Friday 23 February and Sunday 25 February. The festival will conclude with a second weekender from Friday 1 March to Sunday 3 March.
The events will take place across the University of Bradford campus, at the Theatre in the Mill Studio, Gallery II and the Amp Bar inside Student Central. It is the first time the festival has been held since February 2020.
Festival highlights include drag thing, musician and writer Ding Frisby, pictured above. They will present part of a one-person show, ‘Ding Frisby Can’t Drive A Spaceship’, a brand new work in progress sharing from their new gig theatre piece, exploring queerness and space and a little bit of anarchy. The show is on 23 February at 20:00 at TiM Studio.
OUT OUT, pictured above, will collaborate with Pecs Collective, one of the UK's longest running drag king projects to bring 'Black is King' to the festival. Celebrating Black drag kings, the night, held on 24 February from 20:00 at Amp Bar- Student Central, will feature some of the UK's most exciting drag artists.
Jenn Wilson will dissect what are seen as traditionally heterosexual love songs in their show on February 25 at TiM Studio from 15:00.
Meanwhile, the second weekender includes a feast of Indian Burmese vegan food for 50 people, hosted by Bradford South Asian drag queen Lady Bushra, pictured above. This takes place on 1 March at 18:15 at Amp Bar.
Usman Ahmed looks to break down misconceptions about being South Asian and queer in ‘South Asian Queer Joy’, on 1 March at Amp Bar from 20:00.
Grappling fans will also be catered for on Saturday 2 March when CAMP Wrestling hold a workshop and drag wrestling show. Both events are in the Amp Bar, the workshop from 14:00 and the wrestling show, which will include matches, burlesque and drag acts, between 20:00 and 23:30.
Marikiscrycrycry, pictured below, will also perform during the second weekend of the festival. Marikiscrycrycry is Malik Nashad Sharpe, a choreographer and movement director whose work features dance and dark fantasy. In 2022 he was featured on the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list for his choreographic achievements.
Malik’s new shows include a horror-themed choreography piece, based on the character The Goner, looking at themes including alienation, migration and violence, on 2 March from 19:00 in the TiM Studio. The show will also take place the following day at the same time and location. A Marikiscrycrycry workshop is on 3 March from 15:00.
Emerging Bradford artist Anas Data presents a work in progress interactive reading on 2 and 3 March, looking at DL men in the British South Asian community. DL are queer men who may not practise, identify or acknowledge their queer identity.
Following the 2024 festival, RQRN is set to return for the next three years with the aim of developing ideas over that time.
Shabina Aslam, Associate Director at Theatre in the Mill, said: “I’m really excited about this collaboration with Sonia Sandhu and Alice Parsons who are local producers and are co-curating this festival.
“Alongside them we have our long-term partners Marlborough Productions who are known for their cutting edge, risk taking, genre-defying artists. So, I’m expecting a fun-filled festival with a radical strand, workshops, an intergenerational cafe, parties and the sharing of new ideas around queer research and creativity.
“It’s going to be absolutely exciting, original and risk-taking with an additional queer, trans, people of colour focus.
“This festival is needed because of ongoing marginalisation, discrimination and homophobia experienced by LGBTQIA+ artists.
“Theatre in the Mill produces the work of radical global majority artists for diverse audiences-whilst being a neighbourhood theatre and an inspiration for students. This is what we offer going forwards to 2025, come and join us.”
Theatre in the Mill has teamed up with Sonia Sandhu, Bradford Producing Hub’s LGBTQIA+ Arts Instigator, and Alice Parsons, Director of Bradford Queer Film Festival and Founder of OUT OUT, to curate and produce this year’s RQRN event.
Go to theatreinthemill.com/rightqueerrightnow for more information on the festival and how to buy tickets for the shows.