PRINCESS BOY WONDER
17/03/2020 - 18/03/2020
20/03/2020 - 20/03/2020
Every boy deserves to feel beautiful.
Join legendary drag king Hugo Grrrl for his spectacular solo show debut – Princess Boy Wonder. A glittering and hilarious campy cabaret and courageous transgender coming-of-age tale all at once. This bold new queer theatre work celebrates trans identities, loud, outlandish personal expression and life lived beyond the binary. Expect outrageous drag, sensational costuming, heart-warming storytelling, loin-warming dance moves and a jam-packed hour of queer pride. Princess Boy Wonder is a fierce and frank glamour party not to be missed.
George Fowler (aka Hugo Grrrl) is a trans man, drag king and Wellington-based comedy and cabaret producer – creating smutty, rough-around-the-edges, politically-charged theatre that’s bound to leave ya with a smile on your face and a bit of glitter in your hair. This quirky bloke was nominated for Wellingtonian Of The Year 2018 for his work on diversity in the arts, and has won Best Producer, Best MC and Outstanding Achievement in the 2018 Wellington Comedy Awards. He won Season 1 of TVNZ’s House of Drag, was the first drag king to ever be featured on a televised drag reality show and is the first New Zealander to headline The Austin International Drag Festival.
Princess Boy Wonder is the premiere opportunity to peer into the mind behind the moustache.
Directed by iconic queer theatre maker and academic Lori Leigh.
BATS Theatre, The Random Stage
17 – 21 18 March 2020 [See message from BATS: https://bats.co.nz/about-bats/covid-19/]
Full Price $25
Group 6+ $23
Concession Price $20
Addict Cardholder $18
BATS Theatre has made it possible for this ✨iconic✨ piece of queer theatre to be
live streamed on Friday 20 March at 6:30pm.
Anyone in the world can buy a ticket and tune in:
Theatre , Solo , Cabaret ,
Historic moment gives a sense of hope
Review by David O'Donnell 22nd Mar 2020
In a sad and desperate week in which shows were cancelled and theatres closed all over the country in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was one glimmer of hope: BATS Theatre’s live-stream of George Fowler’s one-person show Princess Boy Wonder.
In over 40 years of theatre-going in the capital, I’d never experienced anything like this. Only last week I was attending New Zealand Festival productions in packed venues like the Opera House, Shed 6 and the Michael Fowler Centre. Then, last Sunday it was announced that all shows on the final day of the festival were cancelled. This included Strasbourg 1518 which I had booked for at 4pm on Sunday and had been looking forward to for months.
On Monday night I was among a small, socially distanced audience at Circa Studio watching Cian Gardner’s superbly intimate, precise, and moving solo show Sorry for your Loss. On Wednesday, BATS announced that the theatre was closing and that Princess Boy Wonder, along with all other upcoming shows, was cancelled. By Friday Circa was closed as well. The age-old mantra ‘the show must go on’ changed to ‘the show must go online’. On Friday night I watched my first live-streamed theatre performance.
A link from the BATS website took me to a payment page where I typed in my details to pay $15.* Almost immediately my laptop was live screening the Random Stage at BATS, festooned with theatrical curtains illuminated by sweeping, multi-coloured lights, with cheerful music playing. Under the circumstances, this felt metaphoric, an image of the theatrical surviving against the odds. The fixed camera was placed centrally in the seating block, covering the entire stage, giving a similar view to that if you were seated near the back of the auditorium. I could see some of the small invited live audience chatting animatedly in the front rows. At 6.30 sharp, the show began.
Like Sorry for your Loss, this is a solo show about an intimate personal journey, in this case George Fowler’s journey from being a CIS-gender lesbian woman to a trans man. The show begins with George performing a Loie Fuller-style routine with a glorious rainbow costume which flies and soars through the space in response to his movement. Also known as drag king Hugo Grrrl, George’s charismatic presence immediately engages me despite the social distancing of the technology. He jokes that the show is about his coming out but urges us not to ‘come out’.
For the next hour or so George lights up my laptop screen with a multi-faceted performance that is joyful, celebratory, hilariously funny, poignant and personal. George is a shape-shifter in more ways than one. Rapid costume changes act as a metaphor for gender fluidity and a celebration of non-binary identity-forming. George expertly interacts with the live audience who respond with frequent laughter and cheering. The performance is tightly scripted with witty language-play calling attention to the role language plays in defining social expectations and norms.
Transgressive takes on Charles Dickens and Walt Disney take us into a glorious universe of camp and gender-mixing drag. A mix of cabaret and storytelling, this production illustrates the power of live theatre to advance social dialogues about culture, gender and sexuality.
Lori Leigh’s direction is as inventively fluid as George’s gender jokes. The revelation of black-clad stagehands at one point reminds us that, like many solo shows, this is clearly a team enterprise. At the curtain call, the live audience rise to their feet in standing ovation, and we are clapping and cheering from our sofa, thrilled that we were able to connect live and digital in this way.
I had previously booked to see Princess Boy Wonder on Friday night, so am grateful that I got to experience this highly original show online if not in person. Apart from the occasional milli-second freeze, the transmission was flawless. I thank the staff at BATS Theatre for the incredible effort it must have taken to organize this screening so quickly. I thank George for his courage in performing the show under such dire circumstances. George’s personal-is-political story seemed even more compelling and relevant because of the circumstances under which we experienced it.
For me, as someone who has studied theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand for decades, this felt like a historic moment. All over the country, performing artists have seen their livelihoods, which are based on people gathering together in person, evaporate literally overnight. In the face of unprecedented insecurity for performing artists and the industries that facilitate their work, this live-stream performance of Princess Boy Wonder gives some sense of hope that theatre can continue in some form through the uncertain days ahead.
*[David had a comp booked and was offered a free voucher but chose to pay to support the artists – ed.]
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
A hard-to beat celebration of gender euphoria
Review by Margaret Austin 18th Mar 2020
George Fowler (aka Hugo Grrrl) is a many faceted human being. I’m looking forward to being treated to a view of some of them at opening night of his first ever solo show Princess Boy Wonder on BATS’ Random stage.
It’s a predictably full house, and a clearly rapt audience gives our man a rousing welcome. In a dazzling costume, he gives us a rendition of ‘When you Wish Upon a Star’ – but it’s lip synched! I am initially disappointed (having endured years of lip synching while living in Paris in the eighties).
But then the reason for such a musical cheat emerges and it’s beautifully in tune with the theme of Fowler’s show: an ever-changing series of facades – now you see him; now you don’t – designed to baffle and delight.
There’s a self-confessional monologue to accompany the myriad costumes, which are brilliant in design and effect. One of my favourites would have to be the cape of many colours that Fowler flaunts for his joyous ‘I’m Coming Out’.
Indeed, he is coming out. But then he’s been coming out, in differing identities and matching guises, for quite some time. We get intimate flashbacks of a dizzying range of lifestyles and there’s much audience laughter at the recognition of stereotypes.
Our performer’s discovery of drag as a way of expression is particularly informative. “Drag isn’t a lie. My unconstructed self is.” His tale of two puberties elaborates on the theme of an evolving sexuality.
Best and most outrageous is his appearance as a gigantic version of a certain part of the female anatomy – complete with voluptuous pink folds of surely the most ingenious costume ever. The accompanying song is as funny as it is explicit.
Special mention should be made of director Lori Leigh, and of the technical aspects and backstage backup of our performer.
For a celebration of gender euphoria, Princess Boy Wonder would be hard to beat. As Fowler asserts: “You are so much more than your anatomy.”
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer