What do you get when you mix the work of two gay Atlanta stage artists and spice it generously with drag, burlesque, dance, theater and the lives of Southern queers? Heads up: You’ve been “Identified.”
That’s the name of the latest work from the minds of local queers Amber Bradshaw, a theater director and development artist, and Corian Ellisor, a performance artist and contemporary dancer who some readers may know as a sometimes drag diva, one-time swimsuit model, and always a person to watch.
“Identified: A Queer Variety Show” brings together their talents in an exploration that is meant to be fun and thought provoking. Performances run Thursday through Saturday, February 26 – 28 on the Backstage at 7Stages, with an opening reception after the Friday show. But before you buy tickets, we asked the artists to give us their best pitch for the show.
What inspired you to create “Identified”?
Amber Bradshaw: Corian and I had a lot of conversations about the work we do and the experiences we have within the art world, and some of those experiences are struggles. We all fight to know ourselves. We wanted to tell a story from a queer perspective that could reach out to anyone and be something they could connect with.
Corian Ellisor: The theme of identity is something that has intrigued me as an artist for a while. The fact that I am a queer Southern black man making art is something that I hold near to me. It is a subject I wanted to explore, and this happened to coincide with what Amber wanted to explore.
What does being "queer" mean to you personally?
C: Being queer is not just a label that I give to myself, it is the community that I belong to. It is my friends I see on a daily basis. It is big and strong and includes any and everyone. Being queer makes me feel safe.
A. Queer is an all-encompassing word. It implies anything that is not straight. I’m a lesbian, but that doesn’t mean I don’t accept you because you’re bisexual or transgender. We’re part of the same world. The community at large is full of labels, but Corian and I feel like we should all acknowledge our similarities instead of our differences.
What can we expect from the performances?
A: It’s a variety show! It’s entertaining! It’s performance art. We’ve got a burlesque act and a couple of drag performances. We dance. We do theatre. It’s about sharing and being who we are. It’s about being queer and southern and an artist.
C: "Identified" is a multilayered performance art piece. It uses dance, drag, theater and burlesque to examine different aspects of self as we see it through our own eyes. Although the subject matter is serious, there is a use of humor to help engage and push the audience along with us.
If you could hope for only one takeaway after audiences see "Identified," what would it be?
C: I hope that the audience has fun when they view "Identified." I hope the audience leaves wanting more. I also hope that they see themselves in the two of us and in the portrayal of ourselves.
A: That being who you really are is the most valuable thing you can do for yourself. Being out, being real, being authentic.
Anything else you want to say to gay Atlanta about "Identified"?
C: I think this is important for people to see. We as artists are putting ourselves out there to tell an authentic and true story of our lives. It is hard to be queer in a southern city, but there is so much beauty that we have discovered though the process of making "Identified."
A: This show is about having a voice and being truthful. It’s also a damn good time. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or straight. Come join us for our OUTing.
“Identified: A Queer Variety Show” runs Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 26-28 @ 7Stages, 8 p.m. An opening reception follows the Friday, Feb. 27 performance, and there’s an extra Industry Night performance on Feb. 28, 10pm. Buy tickets online or by phone at the 7Stages box office. You can also visit the show’s Facebook Page or watch the video post below about the show.