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David Hoyle’s Still Life series comes to a close this Thursday, seeing David ‘in conversation’ with Irish drag legend and activist Panti. Still Life is a reminder of what it is to truly be a human being and that there is still life in us yet. The series so far has seen Hoyle speaking with individuals including Lavinia Co-op, Gavin Butt and Roz Kaveney (who stood in for journalist Paris Lees who was ill). They shared their vast insights into art, queer politics, history and transgender activism.
A stalwart of the LGBT community in Ireland, Panti came to international attention with a speech she gave in response to RTÉ paying off individuals campaigning against gay marriage in Ireland who threatened legal action against the television network when Panti alleged they were homophobic. The speech was recorded and gained over 200,000 views on Youtube within two days. Support came from across the LGBT community from RuPaul to Graham Norton and was remixed by the Pet Shop Boys.
David Hoyle is himself somewhat of a legend in his own right – his ‘anti-drag’ persona, The Divine David, saw him break out onto Channel 4 in the late 90s and his work tends to involve the avant-garde and surreal side of cabaret performance. Still Life is the latest in a long series of shows Hoyle has added to the mid-week schedule at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. His brand of particularly radical satirical comedy can have the tendency to rub some members of the audience up the wrong way. He isn’t afraid to share his views against militarisation or perform an abstract dance performance to the sound of an MRI machine, for example.
While an amazing performer on his own, his ability to connect with his guests onstage has made Still Life a spellbinding experience. There was criticism from a member of the audience in previous weeks that Hoyle was putting his guest’s opinions on a pedestal above his own, although as he quite rightly pointed out, if you invited an expert to speak about queer theory in education, it makes sense to let them share their views.
For those of us coming of age now, who have arguably had less reason to engage with queer history and politics, it’s a refreshing reminder of where we come from in contrast to the hedonism of the London gay scene.
Still Life will be at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in London on Thursday 29 May for the final run of the series. The show starts at 8:30, although doors open at 7 and I’d recommend getting there early if you want a decent seat.
Visit rvt.org.uk for more information.