'The Intangible Queer' explores identity through abstraction & experimentation

YIKES! A Theatre Company releases production at Reelout’s Summer Queer Showcase

Supplied by YIKES! A Theatre Company
Combining theatre, film, and abstract art, YIKES! A Theatre Company’s The Intangible Queer embraces unconventional storytelling.
The show premiered through Reelout’s Summer Queer Showcase on Jun. 4th and will be available until Aug. 31. Directed by Kemi King and Lisbet MacLean, both ArtSci ’21, this production adapted well to its virtual format despite originally being intended for live theatre. 
Drawing inspiration from David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive—an avant-garde film that deliberately confuses spectators by not having a straightforward narrative—The Intangible Queer delivers its story through an abstract lens without following a traditional structure. 
The show’s first act is immediately ominous and perplexing, with four characters drifting behind an abstract geometric art piece. Confusion is amplified when a chaotic audio clip of multilingual shouting from Mulholland Drive is played. 
Part of The Intangible Queer’s beauty is how it rejects the belief that answers are necessary in art. An eerie, uncertain atmosphere is created by the character’s unexplained actions and the seemingly random voices and noises. The show simply exists, never feeling a need to prove its significance. 
Throughout The Intangible Queer, unexplained creative choices complement one another, reminiscent of the praised yet often polarizing Mulholland Drive
Even the show’s characters follow an unapologetically abstract theme. They don’t represent actual people, but rather the four temperaments of humoural theory—an ancient system of medicine aimed to understand the human body’s inner workings.
Characters reflect the Phlegmatic, Choleric, Melancholic, and the Sanguine. The actors play these four humours to reflect their stereotypical traits in the second and third acts, revealing the personalities of the humoural theory
In act two, Sanguine exhibits positive, cheerful energy as they smile and stack sugar cubes with a childlike wonder. Meanwhile another humour, Choleric, appears ambitious and goal oriented in their meticulous measuring of ingredients, implying a need for perfect order.
Throughout The Intangible Queer, these frequent references to personality types as well as astrological signs challenge society’s insistence on attaching labels to people. The production explores how the normalization of these labels imposes on our beliefs and influences how we perceive the world around us. 
By the show’s final act, it’s made clear that labels aren’t definitive explanations of oneself and shouldn’t be taken at face value. 
“As a society, we want to place a permanent definition of something,” King said in an audio clip included as part of the production. “I think that’s why there’s been so many personality tests, as people we’re not just one thing.”
The production also condemns harmful labels of gender and sexuality as unnecessary societal binds designed to control people and their self-expression. 
By exploring the freedom found in unapologetic self-expression, The Intangible Queer reflects on the absurdity of social norms and labels, demanding a freedom that queerness deserves but has not yet received from mainstream society and culture. 
“I think as a queer or marginalized person, you’re constantly in flux. It’s like you realize you’re different from everything that has been prescribed to you, and from there every decision you make must be intentional because you’re defining yourself,” King said in the production’s final act. 
“It’s like you’re almost able to liberate yourself by deciding if you want to walk in line or opposite to a stereotype—like, there’s liberation because it’s an active choice.”

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