In the Drama Top’s promo image for their upcoming show, two muscle-teed masc bodies suggestively hold axes in what could be the cover of a sexy fireman calendar. But two queer people straddling symbols of conventional masculinity hints at a deeper exploration than face value might suggest. And Drama Tops is ready to go deep with you in Boys! Boys! Boys!
Elby Brosch and Shane Donohue are the duo that is Drama Tops, (though their work sometimes features other artists), who have made their mark both in the contemporary dance world and the queer nightlife circuit, performing their signature blend of postmodern camp that is equal parts irony and earnestness. Boys! Boys! Boys!, commissioned as part of Velocity’s “Made in Seattle” program, is their long awaited second evening-length work. Drama Tops, This is for You showed at Washington Hall in January 2020, which crafted a nuanced tension between trans and cis identities, an unfolding journey of transition directed by Brosch. While Drama Tops has always been collaboration, this new show marks a move to an even-steven co-creation. Instead of playing two identities at odds, Brosch and Donohue report, they are a team contending with issues they both face.
Much of the dance material for Boys! Boys! Boys! came from performances developed for audiences at places like Kremwerk, High Faggotry at the Unicorn, and Tush at Clock Out Lounge. But putting it in a theater allows the Drama Tops to layer context and arc. The show is not a strung-together series of vignettes, they explain, but a glam rock odyssey that’s about unpacking their queer existentialism.
But even their club works contain an undercurrent of cultural critique. They recalled a recent show at Sissy Butch where both dancers “packed.” During the number they pulled out their packs and shoved them in each other’s faces. It was out of the scope of what might be expected during a typical drag show, but Brosch and Donohue still received a lot of enthusiastic support and some “delightful confusion.” It makes them optimistic about this show, which hopes to appeal to both contemporary dance audiences and nightlife crowds. They want to reel in their drag show fans with the sexualized and hyper-masculine poster image, and then “blow their minds a little bit.” This is right in line with the show’s themes, of course, which asks deeper questions about commercial success, queer presentation, and the complications of masculinity in gay culture. But it’s not a bait-and-switch so much as an opportunity for people to get outside their comfort zones and hopefully find something they connect with. Part of the show is personally greeting everyone entering the space, to eliminate any discomfort for folks unaccustomed to theatergoing.
Being community ambassadors isn’t just about welcoming club-goers, but also about bringing nightlife into the theater space. Part of the Boys! Boys! Boys! run is two afterparties in which drama tops has curated two local drag performers (Killer Bunny on Sept 17 and One on Sept 24) to host a party with plenty of queer performances, drinks, dancing, and general revelry for audience and artists alike. Brosch and Donohue say that the afterparty is part of an overarching concept of the performance experience that extends to merch, an intentionally designed bar space, and an art installation that looms over the runway-like stage.
It’s hard to use terms like “event of the season” without sounding cliché, but if you want to be on the pulse of what’s happening in Seattle’s dance (or nightlife) scene, Drama Top’s Boys! Boys! Boys! is not to be missed!
Boys! Boys! Boys! plays September 15-18 and 22-25 at 7:30pm at 12th Ave Arts. Boys! Boys! Boys! After Party takes place September 17 and 24 at 10:30pm at 12th Ave Arts. Tickets are on sale through Velocity Dance Center’s website.