Literary Burlesque: Raising Eyebrows and Funds for a Local Cause


Literary Burlesque: Raising Eyebrows and Funds for a Local Cause

Most Londoners have probably never heard of the Graduate English Society at Western University. It’s comprised of burgeoning scholars in Western’s Department of English who, apart from working on their Master’s and PhD requirements, teach undergraduate students, conduct research with professors, and publish research of their own. Many are also finding ways to reach out to the community—to show the relevance of English studies to the urban spaces around them and to society at large. After all, English isn’t merely about analyzing novels and poetry. Cultural studies, gender studies, horror studies, food studies, eco-criticism, even video game theory: while all of these areas of scholarship can be informed by classic literature, their relevance to the twenty-first century is obvious.

With these and other ideas in mind, members of the GES are partnering with YOUR Drag & Burlesque to deliver an evening of literary-themed performance, with proceeds going to Open Closet, a London support group for LGBTQ teens ( This 19+ event is being held at the London Music Club, 470 Colborne St, on Thursday, November 29th. Doors open at 9:00pm; the show starts at 10:00pm. Tickets, which can be purchased at the door, are $10.00, with a policy that no one is turned away for lack of funds.

See a guilt-ridden but erogenous Lady MacBeth cover her husband in “blood.” Follow a hairy-chested Little Red Riding Hood on the way to grandma’s house. Watch Sherlock Holmes and Watson investigate a crime—with more than a little sexual tension in the air. Feast your eyes on one of the sexy dancing felines from Cats (the musical, of course, is based on poetry by T.S. Eliot). It’s all in good, often humorous fun, designed to raise both eyebrows and charity money.

Though this genre of entertainment may not be for everyone, both drag and burlesque are centuries-old forms of performance. And as PhD student and performer Diana Samu-Visser explains, they are deeply rooted in satire and comedy, and yet they’re often also dramatic reflections on issues of the eras in which they are staged. “Drag and burlesque forge important ties in and between communities,” says Samu-Visser, who performs as Miss Sixty Lashes at Thursday’s event.

The idea to partner with YOUR Drag & Burlesque came from GES Social Coordinator Meghan Adams, a PhD student in English. Adams, who also performs, sees the event as a chance to engage the academic community with every day social needs.  This show, she says, “is close to the hearts of many of our young department members because it uses the arts we love to effect change and support youth in the community in which we live and work.” GES co-chair Darren Monteith who, along with Jeremy Greenway, gave the project the green light, concurs. “We tend to assume communities outside and within the university are separate,” notes Monteith, “but there are great things we can accomplish by thinking of them together.”

WHAT: The Graduate English Society at Western presents YOUR Drag & Burlesque Show: Literary Edition

WHEN: Thursday, November 29th, 2012. Doors open at 9pm; show at 10pm. 19+

WHERE: The London Music Club, 470 Colborne St, London

COST: $10 in advance or at the door (no one turned away for lack of funds); proceeds go to Open Closet, support group in London for LGBTQ youth aged 14-18

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FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact GES Co-chair Jeremy Greenway (


About uwoges

The Graduate English Society (GES) at Western University is a student organization that, through its various events and services, fosters a sense of social as well as academic community among the English graduate students currently in attendance at Western. We also facilitate communication between graduate students and faculty in an effort to promote intradepartmental camaraderie and to present graduate student concerns to the administration. All students in the graduate program in English at Western are members of the GES. Through the GES, students can voice and address matters common to the graduate student body. We hold meetings approximately once or twice a semester which are open to all members. We also elect members to various GES Service Positions where they represent student interests. In addition, the GES serves both professional and social purposes, sponsoring academic events and parties.
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