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International storyteller brings true tale home to Pictou

Gillian English in Drag Queen Stole My Dress.
Gillian English in Drag Queen Stole My Dress.

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International storyteller Gillian English is bringing her debut show Drag Queen Stole My Dress to her home of Pictou County for the first time on Nov. 15.

Her show is a hilarious true story of how she called off her wedding, which anyone in a bad romance can relate to, including a funny tale of how a Montreal drag queen stole her dress (not the wedding one).

“It was like a frog being boiled alive,” said English of her near-wedding.

Drag Queen is a solo storytelling performance and takes the form of direct address with no ‘fourth wall’ between the performer and audience. It will be presented at The Commune in New Glasgow, starting at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15. Tickets can be reserved by email: jenna@eastcoastcommune.com

This is English’s oldest show at four years old, which she has performed in Canada, the United States and Australia, where she now lives.

“I don’t want to give away too much,” said English.

However, her work has both a comedic and feminist bent, as depicted in her upcoming show Giant and Angry, which will premiere in Australia next year.

This show tackles sexism, harassment, mansplaining and how the victims of misogyny are all-too-often ignored by society.

Her other show, titled She Wolf, is a character solo storytelling show told as Queen Margaret of Anjou.

This was the same woman whom William Shakespeare vilified in his 1591 play King Henry VI.

More than 400 years later, English is turning the tables in Queen Margaret’s favour by exploring how women in positions of power are treated.

However, little has changed since Shakespeare’s time, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s ongoing demonization of Hillary Clinton shows.

Nearly a year after winning the 2016 election, Trump still refers to Clinton as “crooked Hillary,” in tweets, while his supporters demand to “lock her up.”

“Of course he’s afraid of her,” said English.

Women and their allies are fighting back against the sexism running through Trump’s presidency, one of the worst examples being his boasts of grabbing women “by the p****.”

One of English’s most poignant shows is Get Around, dealing with how she was sexually assaulted at an Aussie Rules football party in Melbourne, as well as her journey into sports.

“I do feminist work that tries to help women. That’s the crux of what I do because this is a responsibility that each individual person has to take for themselves,” said English. “It’s not up to someone else.”

Her other shows include A Bitter Shrew, which deals with her romantic misadventures and dating after she called off her wedding.

“It’s storytelling,” said English of her shows.

English started life in Sutherlands River and attended F.H. MacDonald Elementary School. She later attended East Pictou Rural High School.

After she completed her schooling in Pictou County, she continued her theatrical training at Dalhousie University, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and the Second City Conservatory.

In London, English specialized in classical Shakespearean performance, visiting the bard’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Gillian has been featured on RISK!, Definitely Not the Opera, CBC, CTV, and in Time Out New York, National Post and Now Magazine for her theatrical and comedic works.

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