March 14, 2013

Off Beat: 'Queerly Shakespearean' in Biddeford Saturday

Amanda Clark brings 'Queerly Shakespearean,' a bawdy burlesque show loosely inspired by works of the Bard, to Biddeford on Saturday.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

So you like your Bard to be a little bawdy?

click image to enlarge

Darkside Photography


WHEN: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Oak + The Ax, 140 Main St., Suite 107, Biddeford

HOW MUCH: $10 in advance; $12 at the door


Some might argue that the works of William Shakespeare can be a little risque on their own. OK, maybe a lot risque.

But on Saturday in Biddeford, they'll be taken to an entirely different level of raciness.

That's when Amanda Clark -- who bills herself as Rosie, followed by something we can't print here -- stages a burlesque show inspired by the Bard's tales called "Queerly Shakespearean."

The show is the second in a new burlesque series (subtly named "Rosie Saturday Night Burlesque Affair") at The Oak + The Ax, a Biddeford venue known for eclectic music and entertainment.

Clark, 25, says bluntly that the mission of her series is to "provide racy entertainment and off-color humor."

But with historical context.

You see, Clark is a student of burlesque as well as a performer, artist and activist. She did her thesis at Maine College of Art in Portland on burlesque.

She says the goal of her series at The Oak + The Ax is to put on a contemporary variety show "that is characterized by the early definition of a burlesque show, an evening that vulgarizes and mocks our day-to-day routines with sarcasm, wit and bawdy behavior."

"It's my pleasure to pull together a variety of creative minds for the sake of collaboration and performance, to go ahead and push on those buttons of sex, confusion and utter delight," Clark said.

As for "Queerly Shakespearean," Clark also looks to the history of burlesque for inspiration. She says that during Shakespearean times, performers were all men. Female roles were filled by young boys with high-pitched voices.

But in early burlesque, in the 1800s, that got reversed. There were women playing men's roles. Clark cites the time in 1868 when Lydia Thompson's burlesque troupe did a show called "Ixion" starring women playing the roles of men -- in revealing tights. It became a smash.

You can look it up in "The Big Book of Burlesque," probably.

Clark said that because it's the time of year when the Ides of March are near, she thought of Julius Caesar's assassination. Which, of course, made her think of Shakespeare and of doing a lewd twist on Shakespeare tales like "Julius Caesar." (Doesn't everyone?)

But "Julius Caesar" is not one of the plays that gets a lewd treatment Saturday night. The eight-person cast will perform seven acts, each based on a Shakespeare tragedy, including "Romeo and Juliet," "Macbeth" and "Hamlet."

Clark said that as a student studying Shakespeare, she let her imagination run wild in terms of sexual innuendo and such. But now that she's putting on a burlesque series, it's not just her mind that can run wild.

Suffice to say, "Queerly Shakespearean" will be unusual.

"I know I only got through the Shakespearean segment of high school literature because of my lewd pubescent mind," said Clark. "And (I) am delighted to give those moments of titillating theatrical genius the gay security blanket they deserve to be wrapped in."

Shakespeare, history and sex.

What else do you really need?

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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