QUEER MUMMER PUPPET THEATRE
First performed at Struts Gallery and Faucet Media Centre during “A Handmade Assembly” in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada, by my alter-ego The Queer Mumme, Queer Mummer Puppet Theatre references Canadian children’s television programs such as “Mr. Dressup” and “Téléfrançais” while also referencing traditional Punch and Judy puppet shows. Queer Mummer Puppet Theatre also queers the gallery, turning the white cube into a stage for traditional drag performance techniques such as lip syncs and comedy skits.
Adorned in fully crocheted Elizabethan-inspired jester motley, my alter-ego blends the Newfoundland tradition of mummering with the queer art form of drag, deconstructing gender norms and challenging gender essentialism and homophobia. The Queer Mummer serves as reminder that mummering itself is a custom that queers space. Both drag and mummering are tools for the multi-vocal expression of identity, and both blur and subvert the gender binary. Therefore, both drag and mummering queer public space in one way or another and give license to possibilities beyond the two sex, two gender system, offering concrete reconfigurations of gender and gender performance.
In the performance, I demonstrate through camp and slapstick how to create a sock puppet. During this portion of the performance, I stab them by accident with a sewing needle and burn my hand with hot glue, referencing the slapstick comedy of Canadian shows like “The Red Green Show.” After the creation of the puppet, I breathe life into the sock by lip syncing along to Evanescence’s famous hit “Bring Me To Life,” in which the puppet joins along as the male vocalist of the song. Next, the puppet show commences, with references to Newfoundland culture and queer culture, including references to Newfoundland delicacies such as liquor-filled “Christmas slush,” and the gay dating app Grindr. The puppet play follows Tipsy Magoo, a marotte version of The Queer Mummer, and the unfortunate events that follow a house visit gone wrong. Following the end of the puppet play, I perform a final lip-sync to The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed.”