Class is in session: History with a Drag Queen comes to MRU
Bella Coco, Staff Writer
Grab your history books and prepare for the lesson of a lifetime, because History with a Drag Queen is coming to Mount Royal University (MRU) on Thursday, Feb. 8.
Karla Marx, a drag queen who uses her burlesque and comedic talents to teach history, is bringing her show to MRU’s pub, West Gate Social.
Marx was developed and is embodied by Victoria Bucholtz, a professor in the history department at MRU. With her riveting historical knowledge, Marx plans to educate the audience about the important ideologies and impacts made by facism, and the role it plays with our current landscape when referring to social and political issues.
Bucholtz’s interest in history started with her German heritage and an early trip to Germany. During her time working towards a degree in history, Bucholtz realized she also loved teaching the subject.
“While I was doing my PhD at the University of Calgary, I got a couple opportunities to teach some classes as a grad student and I loved connecting with students. So that’s kind of really where my passion for teaching started,” Bucholtz said.
Why learn history with a drag queen
The event is to be hosted by QriTical, MRU’s newly founded research hub that aims to connect
LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff at MRU through teaching, events, research, and community engagement.
According to Corinne Mason, one of the co-founders and co-leads of QriTical, History with a Drag Queen has been around as a YouTube series and live series for quite some time, but this will be the first time Marx will debut her show at MRU.
“The most exciting thing for me is to really have students be able to see the art of drag be paired with with education, and so often when we think about going into perhaps history classrooms or, you know, in other classrooms on our campus, we sometimes think about those spaces as not super fun,” Mason said.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Bucholtz did exactly that. She made learning about history fun by creating the online web series, History with a Drag Queen.
“The web series turned into people asking me to do a live show when we got out of the pandemic,” Bucholtz said. “So now I’ve been doing that for over a year now. Then the amazing Corinne Mason asked me to do a show on campus. So I said, ‘Sure, why not?’”
Another crucial part of the show is highlighting queer and trans histories.
“People may think that there might not be something, especially as queer and trans people, that there might not be history lessons that are relevant to us in our lives and in our histories,” Mason said.
“Karla Marx, by doing these performances of History with a Drag Queen, shows just how essential drag artists are to our communities,to storytelling, to education, and to holding up our histories. I think there’s actually nobody better to teach history than a drag queen,” Mason said.
What to expect
Bucholtz said that attendees can expect their history lesson to be filled with comedic jokes and burlesque content.They will also be given the opportunity to tip performers as well.
“We’re going to kind of show you a little bit of everything. So it is a full cabaret, but you’re also going to be learning. So it’s comedy, it’s cabaret, and it’s also educational,” Bucholtz said.
Doors at West Gate Social open at 6:30 pm and “class” begins at 7 pm. Students and attendees are encouraged to come early and grab a table. In the meantime, while attendees wait, WSG will be open to serve drinks and food off their menu.
“The event is going to be super educational as a history professor, but it’s also going to be super sexy, super cheeky, and super funny. And I’ve just been telling people to come on time. Karla Marx does not play around. So when class starts at 7 o’clock, class starts at 7 o’clock,” Mason said.
Despite West Gate Social being the well-known campus pub, the event is free and open to all community members and all ages.
“When we first came up with this idea for having Karla Marx perform on campus, we immediately thought of the West Gate Social because we wanted the event to happen in the student center, and Wyckham House is one of the locations on campus where students feel the most comfortable. We wanted to make sure that there was no ticket price associated with the event itself. And we also wanted to have an intimate space for the community to be together,” Mason shared.
A timely event
With the recent events unfolding in Alberta’s political landscape, Mason defined the importance of History with a Drag Show being performed and what it means for the queer and trans community and its allies:
“If you want to understand what’s happening right now with our government and the anti-trans policies that were released over the last few days, then you have to understand the history of fascism in a global context. I think what Karla Marx is really going to do is explain to all of us in a very fun and very performative way just how to make sense of our contemporary experiences of anti-trans movements and anti-trans politics.”