In this blog post, the creators of The Cocoa Butter Club talk about why it is important for them to create a safe space for artists and performers from the QTIPOC community to share their work.
Started as a protest against the lack of diversity on stage, cultural appropriation injustices, and archaic yet prevelant black-facing, The Cocoa Butter Club has been standing up for the art of creatives of colour.
Founded by Sadie Sinner The Songbird, the show centres non-white bodies in a time where many stage productions lack the full spectrum of diversity. Providing a space for BAME performers to create and tell stories via their own domain, the show has also served as an essential outlet and celebration for the QTIPOC community.
From large supershow blowouts to intimate theatre productions, the company recently celebrated their 2nd birthday, in a year they were also granted Arts Council funding for their vital efforts and community inspiration.
The Cocoa Butter Club is set to push more boundaries with their upcoming show, featuring a lineup shattering the mainstream expectations of drag, from gender bending to different perspectives.
When asked about why the company was so important in today’s cabaret climate, here’s what some of the cast had to say…
Bae Sharam: Neopolitical muslim drag artist, Boys Award ‘Best New Cabaret Act’ nominee, and GenderFvcker finalist…
“Being a muslim performer is pretty anxiety riddled – I have no idea how people will react to my pieces. Recently I got on stage in a full burqa to a white audience member who thought it was appropriate to heckle me for several minutes without stopping. He thought it would be funny to scream “Miss Vanjie” over and over again. It was disrespectful, inappropriate and steeped in white dominance.”
“Which is why The Cocoa Butter Club is by far the most important thing to happen to cabaret and performance recently especially considering our current socio-political landscape. Up until the space and atmosphere and joy created by The Cocoa Butter Club by putting performers of colours on stage and centering bodies of colour and their stories – nearly every show I went to before had made me feel othered in some way.”
“Whether that was an all white line up, to lazy, racist jokes, to a white dominated space – I as a performer and as an audience member felt either sidelined and invisible or exploited as the butt of the joke. The value of what TCBC bring to the creative space is immeasurable.”
Joé de Vivre: Border-hopping drag artist, whose past performances include Somerset House, Resistance Gallery and an appearance at Mumbai’s 1st queer cabaret…
“We’re living in a time of pressure on all sides: the hostile environment, the long term and far reaching effects of austerity, the post-9/11 determination to demonize Muslims, and of course underlying that the basic assumption of whiteness being better – supreme, you might say – that has survived colonialism and thrives in neo-colonialism.”
The Cocoa Butter Club is a place of creativity that pushes back, makes space for us to breathe and be brave. I’m so grateful it’s a place that includes queer people of colour – Africans, Asians, Latinx, Caribbeans – as a broad alliance, because I think we need to be knitting our muscles together, nurturing each other and making a new centre of attention that says this – this place of different struggles and the determination to understand each other – is the best.”
Appearing as part of the No Direction home series, The Cocoa Butter Club’s show will be taking place on 3rd November, the lineup will include Bae Sharam.
For more details and ticket information click here.