Cruisical: A Lesbian Musical is an anachronistic musical comedy bringing together six queer cis women whose lives we wish had intersected over the last 150 years. Luckily, these six women—Mercedes de Acosta, Moms Mabley, Vita Sackville-West, Violet Trefusis, Virginia Woolf, and Esther Eng—find themselves magically transported to the year 2018, where they have landed on an all-inclusive lesbian cruise. Hearts and lives become entangled over piña coladas by the pool, as these women deal with petty interpersonal disputes and larger misunderstandings of 21st-century queerness. With a libretto pulling from their real-life correspondences and diaries, and a campy musical theater soundtrack informed by their respective eras, these women fall in love—and overboard—in this farcical romp. Inspired by queer theater companies Split Britches and The Five Lesbian Brothers, our collaborative team of queer women pays earnest homage to our foremothers, who lived and loved out loud at great personal risk. In Cruisical, we give them the tropical lesbian vacation they deserved.
Written by Anna Lublina & Elena Rose Light
Music Composed by Lilly Kaplan
Directed by Anna Lublina
Choreographed by Elena Rose Right
Esther Eng: Becca Co
Mercedes De Acosta: Julia Cavagna
Moms Mabley: Maritza Bostic
Violet Trefusis: Anna Slate
Virginia Woolf: lim mui
Vita Sackville-West: Sarah White
July 24th, 9:30pm: Dixon Place (NYC) as a part of the Hot! Festival
Photo edited by Elena Rose Light
Daughters of the Moon: A Puppetry Story retells Italo Calvino’s 1968 short story, an ecofeminist folktale centered around a dying Moon and its struggle to survive in a consumption-obsessed world not unlike our own. For this live performance version, multimedia puppets set the scene for the story as told by gender neutral narrator Qfwfq. Dance theater and live violin create a dreamy landscape for this nostalgic glimpse into 60s capitalist critique, posing the question: how can we learn from Calvino to infuse storytelling into political commentary today?
Puppets and Direction by Anna Lublina
Music performed and composed by Julia Danitz
Qfwfq Performance by lim mui
Moon Performance by Jo Stewart
Diana Puppet Performance (+) by Elena Rose Light
May 12-13, 2018: Vital Joint (NYC)
Photos by Effy Grey
Бабушка | BAb(oo)shka is an interdisciplinary performance that begins with my grandmother (babushka) and another elderly charismatic Jew from the Soviet Union telling a true story—chosen by them—in Russian onstage. Their humorous anecdotes about Jewish oppression are then contemporaneously translated into English (by me), into music (by a Yiddish Klezmer band), and into a puppet melodrama (by a group of physical theater performers). These retellings weave together to create a meta-conversation on the act of translation and historicization, exposing the realities of Jewish life in the Soviet Union and how those experiences transform across generations and migrations.
July 14, 2018: BarnArts Residency (Maine)
The Story of the Orca’s Silver Tongue as Told by the Manager of the Only Taco Bell in Juno follows the epic tale of a whale god named Murder, the Manager of the only Taco Bell in Juno, and Frankie Bottomless, the former BFF who stole their gorgeous sparkling tongue and ran away to San Francisco. This narrative of shifting selves manifests as a transdisciplinary performance with a projected video essay, puppetry, and live choral soundscape. The cast assumes new bodies with each encounter, assembling a queer utopian world that envisions new modes for friendship, lust, and solitude.
Poem by Nina Budabin McQuown, adapted for stage by Anna Lublina, Lim Mui, Lilly Kaplan, and Nina Budabin McQuown
Music Composed by: Lilly Kaplan
January 23-24, 2018: The Tank (NYC) as a part of the Exponential Festival
July 25, 2017: Dixon Place (NYC) as a part of the Hot! Festival
June 15-22, 2017: Vital Joint (NYC) as a part of the Interrobang:New Works Festival
Previous Collaborators: Nina Budabin McQuown, Lilliana Kaplan, Ruthie Natanzon
Photo Credit: Effy Grey and Scott Shaw
Taking its title from MTV’s hit reality TV show, ARE YOU THE ONE? The ultimate queer dating game: each contestant must use their unique musical language to attract their “perfect match.” As four sexy singles strive for harmony—literally—tempers flare and clothes come off. With tears and wistful love songs, will they find “the one”?
Like the best (worst) reality shows, the piece ends with a twist: the contestants discover they can’t find their “perfect match” because “Perfect harmony is only truly achieved through the collective body, when the voice of each individual reflects the product of their labor and supports the collective community.” The lights fade over the dictatorial host’s pseudo-communist arm gestures as s/he gives a diatribe about the unification of (wo)man and machine.
As such, the piece is simultaneously a campy reality dating show and an absurd illustration of socialist political regimes and their spiral into fascism. As I indulge my earnest inclinations toward communism, I nod toward the legends of Soviet terror that line my family history. By placing stereotypes of queer women in a socialist framework (both of which undermine the hetero capitalist patriarchy promulgated in reality TV dating shows), I attempt to link queer collectivity with alternative political ideology. Just as queerness offers the opportunity for expanded notions of family outside a normative structure, so too can it offer a model for alternative modes of governance. ‘ARE YOU THE ONE?’ pushes back upon the exceptionality complex built into American political structures, declaring: there’s never just one.
Made in collaboration with:
September 29-30, 2017: The Brick Theater (NYC)
The epic story of a Provincetown queen who turns into a bird, with malignant priests, zombie dolphins, and a tap-dancing polar bear.
Written by Nina Budabin McQuown.
Collaborators: Nina Budabin McQuown, Rebecca Murie Wenstrom, Maddy Popkin, Naomi Moon, Helen Spencer-Wallace, Kit McKeown, Aviva Jobin-Leeds, Elena Rekola, Lukas Tandara, Anne Nayer
Performance History: Bread and Puppet (July 2016)
Mountainy Women is a staging of Sylvia Plath’s 1962 radio play “Three Women.” Written in verse, the play illustrates the anxiety and excitement of three women before, while, and after they give birth. Inspired by documentary-theatre, my experience with the Errantes project at The Center of Peace, Memory, and Reconciliation in Bogota, Colombia, and the Ping+Chong theater company (with whom this was partially developed), the play incorporates interviews I conducted with women in my community about their experiences and attitude towards pregnancy. Using the original 1962 radio broadcast and the recorded interviews, the play is a collage of public sound (external, from the stage) and private sound (ear buds connecting to personal devices).
Collaborators: Jo Stewart, Cora Walters, Marcela Biven
Special help from: Shantel Prado, Elena Rose Light, and Lori Rodriguez
Performance History: La Mama Galleria (December 2015)
Photos by Lori Rodriguez
Stop-Action Puppet Animation about the history of Colombian music, Colonialism, and the guerrilla Peace talks.
Puppets by Anna Lublina
Poetry by Felipe Sandoval Correa
Edited by Daniel Alberto Sanchez