A Critical Darling

New solo performance opens Fator Studio’s 2021 season

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

A new show will be playing at the Fator Studio from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25. Partnered with Corsicana Artist and Writer Residency, the studio will introduce Brigham Mosley, playwright from the residency’s 2018 season in a production of Critical, Darling! Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.

Bearing the show’s tagline of “It’s critical, darling, to be critical, darling,” Mosley’s performance is one born out of the cabaret tradition, a drag performance that “holds a mirror up to both personal and current global crises through performance, satire, and original song.”

The show is the first of the Fator Studio’s 2021 season. The small black-box theater, known for its more progressive theatrical performances, sits just off the Warehouse Living Arts Center, located at 119 W. Sixth Avenue.

The Navarro County Gazette had the opportunity to chat with Mosley, and learn more about how the artist’s solo show will be entertaining Saturday’s audience.

Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your creative interests.

Mosley: Sure! I am a writer/performer who grew up in a tiny little town in southwest Oklahoma. My people are Dust Bowl survivors and farmers and healthcare workers and I somehow became a drag queen! My work is deeply inspired by the NYC queer theatre lineage of the late 20th century – solo performers like Tim Miller, Lily Tomlin, Eddie Izzard; and drag artists like Taylor Mac, Charles Ludlam, and Ethyl Eichelberger. I love autobiography with lots of poetic license, warping American iconography, and everything glitter, technicolor, and queer!

How did you hear of and become involved with 100W? Can you share some of your experiences from your 2018 writer residency? What did you enjoy during your time here?

Mosley: Kyle Hobratschk and I went to college together (shout out to our SMU Summer-in-Taos for really cementing the friendship!) and I knew I wanted to be a part of whatever magic he was cooking up! And then after my residency I just wouldn’t let them get rid of me! I love the town, I love The Old Mexican Inn (that orange dip! HEAVEN!), and I love the space Corsicana gives you – it’s expansive – so much room to think and play and experiment! I think my fave experience was premiering Critical, Darling! – I wrote the piece during my residency and performed it as the culmination of my time there. I remember being a bit nervous about how a drag performance would be received, but was so blown away by the love and support from the community. Corsicana folks are the best!

What sparked your interest in wanting to perform in Corsicana for 100W 2021 season?

Mosley: Any chance to wear heels I jump at, but really, I am so grateful for what the residency did for me and my practice and I am thrilled to return any time!   

During the last 18+ months, live performances have been limited, rescheduled, or canceled. What have been some of your biggest challenges and learning experiences from this?

Mosley: I count myself very lucky in that I have a creative day job where I am always working on scripts and making shows so, though I haven’t been able to perform live (or in drag!) since February 2020, I have been able to continue my practice. I will say that some of the biggest learnings of this time though have been to slow down, to be kind to myself, to prioritize mental health, and that joy and beauty are SO IMPORTANT – I think I used to be kind of embarrassed about my colorfulness and brightness because it didn’t seem as “serious” or “artful” but now I’m like “LIFE IS SO HARD. MAKE TIME FOR GLITTER AND FUN AND CUTE S—!” – The bleak, existential dread of life will find its way into the work because, hey, look at the time we’re living through – but disco ball people have a place in this world too!

Is Critical Darling one of your regularly performed shows? Did it take work to get back into revisiting these characters?

Mosley: I come from the solo performance practice of writing for your current moment – my work is usually deeply rooted in its present so the shelf life for my pieces isn’t too long!  That said, picking her back up hasn’t been as tough as I thought it might – it’s my usual “busted drag-queen” alter ego and the muscle memory is still there for the most part – I will say re-learning how to walk in this show’s particularly-high high heels has maybe been the most challenging undertaking this go-round!  Praying I don’t literally break a leg!

For those unfamiliar with your performance, what can newcomers expect from your show this weekend?

Mosley: Jokes, songs, chasing down every rabbit hole in the moment. I like theatre that’s a conversation and is playful while still having sharp teeth. It’s political in the personal and an earnest desire to find safety, happiness, and quiet. 

What are some of the highlights of performance? Conversely, what have been some of the challenges?

Mosley: I have a song about Anna Nicole Smith I’m particularly proud of and my outfit is a highlight in its own right (think your grandma’s tackiest crochet come-to-life!). A challenge is the reality that we’re living in an even more challenging present than when I first wrote this piece in 2018. It’s hard getting back in the shoes of oh-man-isn’t-life-tough-in-this-polarized-2018-reality mindset when 2021 Brigham knows that coming up down the bend we’ll have a whole insurrection, internet conspiracy theory mass delusions, worsening climate crises, and a full-on global pandemic to name a few! The internal dramatic irony of it all is very real!

From your website, you look to be quite active in the Dallas arts and writing scene. For those who wish to see your other and future works, what are you currently working on?

Mosley: I’ve got something in the works that I’m incredibly excited about that I can’t yet talk about and I know that’s the most annoying thing to say but it’s TRUE!  Sign up for my newsletter at brighammosley.com and you can be the first to know! 

Do you see yourself exploring and sharing more shows with Corsicana in the future?

Mosley: Corsicana will always have an enormous place in my heart – it came into my life when I really needed a creative reset, and I will happily return whenever she calls!

Playwright Brigham Mosley performs Saturday, Sept. 25 in the solo theater performance of Critical, Darling! – Courtesy photo

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