Two Philly LGBT Theater Troupes Receive Big Arts Grants

bearded ladies brat

The Bearded Ladies founder John Jarboe (left) and Jess Conda of Brat Productions. Both groups just received big grants that will help fund 2014 projects.

Christmas came early (late?) for a few arty Philly folks last night, when the Cultural Alliance doled out $90,000 in grants to 62 arts groups in the Greater Philadelphia region. Among the lucky recipients was two LGBT projects: Brat Productions and drag cabaret outfit The Bearded Ladies Cabaret. The grants — provided by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts‘ Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA) — are given to arts groups that conduct activities for the benefit of the public, especially those that are school-, senior-, or community-based.


Bearded Ladies founder John Jarboe tells me that he'll use his portion of the reward — $1,782.9 — to fund the group's latest venture, a "Cabaret Invasion." The project is the group's effort to "break down the traditional boundaries of access to arts by taking our work to new venues and onto the street." Look out for productions of Bearded Ladies classics, like Beards Are For Shaving: a 007 Cabaret at 30th Street Station, and they're heading to Washington College and The Annenberg Center to perform Wide Awake a Civil War Cabaret and Marlene and The Machine, respectively.

Itching for something new from the Bearded Ladies this year? You're in luck:  Jarboe says they are working on a new piece in collaboration with OperaPhiladelphia, called Andy: A Popera. The Warhol-inspired pop-opera "will start in soup can aisles, parks and street corners and then premier at The Wilma in July."

Brat Productions was awarded $1079.93 for future projects. The neon- and glitter-loving theater troupe got a lot of attention in 2013 in Eternal Glamnation, a queer-empowering show that ran at last year's FringeArts festival. Next up for Brat is "3 Chord Fiction: Love Bites," a three-night cabaret at Tin Angel starring Cleo Phatra, Jess Conda, TJ Kong and others. That's taking place Feb. 4-6. You can get tickets here.