From the acclaimed author of The Brother/Sister Trilogy and Choir Boy, Wig Out!, penned by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who earned an Oscar in February for co-writing the screenplay of best picture winner “Moonlight,” is set in the glamorous world of African-American/Latinx drag balls. McCraney and Company deliver a dazzling spectacle about the timeless desires to be desired, find your home, and dominate anyone who throws you shade.
McCraney has updated his 2006 play Wig Out! for a stunning production recently opened at Studio Theatre. The show is a bold, intimate, funny, sometimes brutal look at the African-American/Latinx ballroom culture, which consists of spectacular, competitive fashion and dance events between “houses” or families that shelter lost souls from the racism and homophobia they find in wider society. The balls provide a mode of self-expression.
Wig Out!, sets off when Eric falls for the handsome Wilson on the subway, but he doesn’t know what he’s in for. Because Wilson is also Nina, a rising drag star in The House of Light, and when a competing house calls a ball for midnight, Eric is drawn into battle. Part turf war, part pageant, all conquest, Wig Out! is a mesmerizing trip into the heart of African-American drag ball culture by way of Ovid, Jay-Z, and Destiny’s Child.
Human connection — the desire for it and the understanding of it — is an overarching theme of Wig Out!. The story’s characters build a wild, vibrant world, and, like McCraney’s exploration of identity in “Moonlight,” they shape their individual ideas of home, sexuality, love and family. Beyond thinking simply of every twist, vogue, and sashay, viewers come away thinking how the need to belong, the need to have an origin that feels genuine to you, the need to connect, the need to give and receive love is at the center of every human experience and every human interaction.
In Wig Out!, the actors are performing an important social function in addition to entertaining: They are communicating, advocating, being a very powerful rising voice for a generation of African-American and Latinx LGBTQ artists who are changing the way society talks about gender and sexuality.
Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW. 202-332-3300. studiotheatre.org.
Dates: Through Aug. 20.
Disclaimer: Studio produces plays that reflect the contemporary world, and their plays frequently contain adult language and content, including nudity. If you have questions about the content of Studio shows, or their appropriateness for younger audiences, please contact Studio’s Box Office at 202.332.3300.
Like this story? Sign up for our newsletter to get more of our best work.
Mariel Kanene is Founder and Editor of TheArtOfPersptive.co and lead storyteller with a focus on music, startups and travel. His passion for storytelling was born in Kinshasa, Congo, groomed in Dallas, Texas, and cultivated in Washington, DC where he now resides. By day, Mariel spends his days slowly trying to change the world—one meaningful interaction at a time. He loves reading factual-fiction, good podcasts, traveling, health and fitness, foreign languages and good conversations over good coffee and even better rum. He hates talking about himself in third person.Thanks for stopping by. Always appreciated. Find me on: Twitter | Instagram | Linkedin | Website.