Drags criticize Gianecchini as the protagonist of ‘Priscilla’: ‘He doesn’t want to raise the flag’

by

Anahi Martinho

One of the most iconic stories in the drag queen universe, “Priscilla, the Queen of the Desert” debuts on Brazilian stages in June, with Reynaldo Gianecchini in the role of the protagonist Tick/Mitzi. The cast also features Diego Martins in the role of Adam/Felicia, and trans actresses Verónica Valenttino and Wallie Ruy take turns playing Bernadette.

The casting of Giane in the main role, however, has displeased the drag community, as the actor has little affinity with the LGBTQIAPN+ universe nor experience in musical theater.

In an interview with F5, the drag singing duo Sara and Nina analyzed what’s behind Gianecchini’s choice for the role. “There is a growing interest in telling the stories of trans people, drag queens, transvestites. But instead of calling these people to tell their stories, they call people like Reynaldo Gianecchini, who make little commitment, take little position, who have more passability in the media where money circulates”, criticizes Gabriel Sanches, who plays Sara.

Alessandro Brandão, who plays Nina, adds: “What I think is most serious is above Gianecchini, after all it’s difficult to say ‘no’ when you receive an invitation. You need to have a lot of social awareness to say ‘this job is not for me'”, he says. “It’s a cycle that needs to be broken at the source. Whoever has the power to invite Gianecchini would have the power to invite any other drag artist and give opportunities to those who have been on the sidelines for so long.”

Sara and Nina were, together with influencer Valen Bandeira, the hosts of the Brazilian Music Grand Prix in 2023, at the Rio Municipal Theater, in the luxurious edition that had Alcione as the honoree.

I feel like I’m in ‘Family Ties’

Gianecchini himself admitted that he is not familiar with the drag universe and revealed that he needs to pursue skills that he has little or no mastery of, such as dancing and singing, to try to reach the level of excellence of musical theater. In an interview with CNN, he compared his current experience to what he experienced in 2000 playing Edu in “Laços de Família”, his first protagonist in a 9pm soap opera, which even became a meme due to Giane’s poor performance, still very inexperienced in the era.

“I only sing in the shower,” he admitted. “And singing in a musical is a bizarre preparation. I’m a student. I go there every day and try to do my best. Dancing, we’re talking about levels of difficulty: it’s not just dancing, it’s dancing in 15 heels, because it’s drag The level of difficulty is huge. I feel like I was back there, in ‘Laços de Família’, when I decided to do something very difficult, that I had no experience with”, he compared.

Waste of talent

For the drag artists interviewed in the report, giving a role like Mitzi to Gianecchini is wasting talent. “I get scared when I see a show of this magnitude make this type of choice. Why him?”, criticizes Gabriel, who played the drag queen Rubia in the soap opera “Pega Pega”, on Globo, in 2017. “How, within a community with so many fabulous artists who sing, dance, know how to do makeup, sew, produce, create, wasn’t there one who could play this protagonist?”, he criticizes.

“It’s good that Diego [Martins] is there. He dresses up, puts on makeup, sings really well. But this awareness could not have stopped there”, he says. “There is no need to offer work to those who have already earned their share, especially when it comes to a work as iconic for our community as ‘Priscilla’ is”, he laments.

Actor Fagner Saraiva, who performs Papona in drag, adds that drag art has been gaining repercussions, but there is still a lack of commitment from major productions to repair history.

“We need to rethink media practice, we need to talk about those who came before. Drag art has had a huge impact after RuPaul, but it is necessary to pay homage to those who paved the way, who brought this art as a specific language for our LGBTQIAPN+ struggle. Contemporary productions need to be committed to this, so that the ongoing historical erasure does not spread further”, warns Fagner.

“Verónica Valenttino is a strong name in this debate about the rightful occupation of spaces, a northeastern transvestite who explores São Paulo and puts her identity in the works, escaping the Eurocentric standard. Just like the choice of the actress Wallie. In these points you can see great successes of production”, he ponders.

Víctor Ivanon, who performs drag Ivana Wonder, agrees. “How did someone consider casting a non-drag person to play a drag queen? Just as I find it appalling when they consider not casting a trans person to play a trans person.” But for him, this is just the tip of the iceberg. “I believe the issues are much bigger than this individual situation, small in light of all the problems and adversities that we, artists in the LGBTQIAPN+ community, face,” he says.

Felipe Santo, who performs stand-up comedy as the drag queen Audácia, believes that Gianecchini’s lack of political positioning further worsens the choice for the role.

“The cast includes Diego [Martins] who is drag, who is an actor, who is a singer, there is Verónica Valenttino, who is one of the most incredible actresses working in Brazil today, and you see Giane occupying this place that could be so important for actors and actresses who are doing , in addition to good work, political work. It’s not optional to take a stand as an LGBTQIAPN+ person”, he says. “While the pix is ​​falling, great, but taking a stand, ‘raising flags’, as he likes to say, he doesn’t want to”, he provokes.

Reference is Xuxa

In an interview with Caras no Navio da Xuxa magazine, in February, Gianecchini cited the presenter as his reference for the musical. “My next role, my big challenge, will be playing a drag queen. And I was paying attention [em Xuxa]. She is perhaps a great reference for drag queens, because she is a beautiful woman who puts on those incredible costumes,” she said. “She has this joy, this humor. She is a great reference. I kept an eye on it, writing down everything, so I could try to steal something. I think my drag will be inspired by Xuxa.”

Notice cited drag as an advantage

The call for auditions for the play, released in October 2023, required “excellent acting, singing and dancing skills” and added that “lip-sync and drag culture are an advantage.” To register, candidates had to send a video performing drag. Auditions began last December and the main cast was announced in February.

When contacted by the report, the production of the show stated, via the press office, that the cast was “cast based on criteria established by the management”.

“The cast of the musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” was chosen based on artistic criteria established by the show’s management, which has always sought to embrace the diversity of genders and sexual orientations of the LGBTQAIP+ community, a theme of the production that values, first and foremost nothing, for a journey of welcome and love among all people”, says the statement.

“In this way, we arrived at a cast consistent with the theme addressed in the musical, formed by four great protagonists — in addition to other names that will soon be announced — each with their individual experiences and paths taken by talent, but also by prejudices that they had to face throughout their journeys. We are convinced that Reynaldo Gianecchini, Diego Martins, Verónica Valenttino and Wallie Ruy will perform their roles, just like in the productions around the world or even in the film of the same name, with immense dedication and mastery, reinforcing this beautiful story of acceptance and understanding among all.”


Source: Folha

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