Pascale Drevillon is an actor and activist focused on unique stories and performances as shown in this one-woman show sketching her transition from man to woman. She rejects binaries and labels, focusing instead on the nuances of gender, refusing to be categorized as any one thing. Exploring her various identities through costume, make-up, lip-sync performance, and projection, Drevillon fills in the contours of her journey and in doing so removes barriers between performer and audience – namely, who finally gets to be seen.
Co-created with Belgian actor/director Geoffrey Gaquere, “Genderf*cker” is an explosion of life sprawled out on stage. The audience is arranged in a circle surrounding Pascale and is invited to walk around the space freely – save for a triangular space in the center with a vanity. The different vantage points are a clever way of communicating perspective. How many ways can we look at something –– or someone? What restricts us in our perception of the world? How close are we able to bring ourselves to an experience different than our own?
To begin, Pascale is sitting on a chair in the center of the stage, covered in cellophane. Head to toe. In the program, she speaks of the journey of a person from fetus to full-fledged woman. And so for a few minutes, alongside a droning soundtrack, we watch her claw her way into the life of the living. It’s a powerful image that speaks to the individuality of each human on earth, which is to say that despite our perceived distances, we all made it. We’re alive. We should be celebrating more often.
From here, she traces her story through drag. She draws stubble on her face, looking pointedly at a handheld camera propped up beside her vanity which is connected to a projector, representing the process in real-time on the big screen against one wall. As an audience member, we can look to the projection, back to Pascale, or to the poster boards she or her assistant pin to the wall opposite the projection. Each board concretizes a segment of her journey through a photograph and accompanying quote, either from her, a friend, photographer, artist, and so on. They provide a sense of depth and authenticity to parallel the performance on stage.
And what a performance it is. Pascale is mostly silent for the full two hours, relying instead on the curves of her cheekbones, the determination and challenge behind her eyes to convey any necessary meaning. This brings the focus to her body and its transformation. The drawn-on stubble leads to donning a full-butch costume, denim jeans and leather jacket. As a version of her past self, she screams along to her favourite song, baring this part of her soul –– who she was at that time, before she became someone else.
During her physical transitions on stage, while doing her makeup or changing outfits, short video clips are projected on the wall. Real-life Youtube chronicles of a transgender man’s transition and reflections, a Judith Butler interview where she speaks about gender as a construct, a music video where the performer is all machismo. The videos serve to support Pascale’s thesis –– gender is what you make it. A powerful quote on one of the poster-boards, paraphrased, said something like: “Choosing to be free means choosing to be looked at”. Pascale makes the case for this idea on stage. Those who choose to assert themselves as individuals are the ones changing the world, moving it forward by rejecting binaries and embracing change. In order to do so, however, they must be seen leading the way –– which can be a dangerous prospect when the world chooses not to listen.
To call an artist brave is a cliché, but when the artist is being vulnerable not only through the work but through the assertion of their identity –– of their humanity –– bravery becomes an understatement. Challenge yourself by witnessing this raw and bracing performance before it closes on June 3rd.
The 13th Annual Festival TransAmériques presents
PASCALE DREVILLON + GEOFFREY GAQUÈRE
May 31 + June 1 + 2 + 3 at 7pm
Duration: 2 h 45 min
In English and French
Édifice Wilder – Espace Danse
1435 Rue de Bleury
514 844 3822 / 1 866 984 3822