The Up Next Festival is set to open tonight, with an aim to shine a light on hidden artistic talent in Merseyside. The show-opener is a piece produced by Andrew McKay, a Merseyside drag artist.

McKay’s piece, ‘Wo-Man’, will be exploring the hardships of performing drag through a one-person comedy-cabaret.

The piece is based on interviews from drag performers in the local community.

McKay said he struggled personally with rejection in musical theatre until he found a place in drag.

He wants to set the record straight on the common misconceptions portrayed in the media about drag artists.

McKay said: “The main message is it’s OK to question who you’re ‘expected’ to be whether it’s about your personality, your gender or the person that your expected to present to the world”.

Andy Mckay taken by Katie Abram
Andrew McKay in a dressing room at Unity Theatre.

The performance will also focus on how a drag artist can navigate the world of dating and the hostile attitudes towards drag within the gay community.

McKay said: “We want to get people in who wouldn’t normally go to a drag show to listen to the story and think this is interesting. Maybe also question some of their prejudice views.

“If you saw a nurse walking down the street wearing her uniform would you say ‘you’re disgusting’, ‘you’re vile’, ‘you’re a dirty pig’. No. So why do they say it to me when I’m also just wearing my uniform.

“One of the lines in the script says ‘The people who don’t acknowledge that the makeup’s gone, don’t allow me to transition back to myself, Andrew, the boy who I’m still learning to love.'”

The two-week long festival will showcase brand-new shows from poetry, to cabaret in celebration of the city’s talented performers.

Wo-Man will premier at the Unity Theatre tonight at 8:00pm.

There will be a post show Q&A called “Exploring drag identity on stage.”


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