Breaking the Spell

A post Brexit queer rebuff to the Queen in a ruff.


In which Bird conjures the roaming spirit of the queer vagabond and invites the mermaid in the Armada portrait to guide the audience to the occult beginnings of the British Empire and treasonous sodomy. 

Including baked in Tudorbethan audio description.

Tweethearts, I’ve spent most of 2020 elbow deep in the Tudorbethans. Let me tell you it’s messy. I’ve been immersing myself in queerness, colonialism, class and gender in the Early Modern Era that is the 1500s and 1600s.

I’ve been thinking about how images like the Armada portrait are integral to the propaganda of the British Empire. My guides have been Silvia Federici and my new history love Arthur Evans.

Commissioned by the Maritime Museum for Fierce Queens, LGBT History Month 2020. In response to The Faces of a Queen exhibition of the three Armada Portraits of Queen Elizabeth 1st seen together for the first time in their history at Queen’s House, Greenwich, London.

Bird in front of the highly ornate Armada Portrait of Elizabeth 1st. Elizabeth is wearing a huge ruff and an elaborate rich costume. Bird is in profile standing in front of the portrait . She has a haughty expression on her face like the portrait and she's wearing her academic drag look.

Team

  • Bird la Bird Researcher, Writer and Performer
  • Angela Clerkin Director and Dramaturg
  • Quiplash Access Consultants.

With thanks to

  • My dog Trixie for mind blowing walks in ancient Epping Forest listening to Caliban and the Witch
  • Charlotte Paddock and Mathilda Pye, Maritime Museum
  • Prof. Judith M. Bennett and Shannon McSheffrey for transcribing records of cross dressing vagabonds held in Bridewell Prison
  • Erica Lagalisse for the photos and chats about occult conspiracy theories
  • Bev Skeggs for introducing me to the history of the demonisation of working class women.