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Dixon Place Presents The World Premiere Of Phoebe Legere's SPEED QUEEN

Dixon Place Presents The World Premiere Of Phoebe Legere's SPEED QUEEN

Dixon Place (Ellie Covan, Founder and Artistic Director) is pleased to present the world premiere of SPEED QUEEN, written and performed by Pulitzer Prize-nominee Phoebe Legere, and directed by Lissa Moira at Dixon Place (161A Chrystie Street). The production will preview on March 7, 2018 with press opening on March 9, and performances on March 15, 16, 17, 23 and 24. All performances are at 7:30 PM.

SPEED QUEEN is a sensual, intoxicating, LGBTQ+ piece that uncovers deep truths about the moments that define us, the women who shape us, and the ache of love that can last a lifetime. This ambitious play honors one of the most courageous foremothers in the struggle for gay liberation and transgender equality, Marion Barbara 'Joe' Carstairs (1900-1993). Carstairs' refusal to hide her true identity as a transgender person resonates with Legere and serves as a backdrop to SPEED QUEEN's story of heartbreak, heroism and love.

SPEED QUEEN combines storytelling, painting, sculpture, lesbian movie stars, costumes and music. In addition to her first cross-dressing role, Legere will also play many of Carstairs' movie star lovers including Tallulah Bankhead, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Mabel Mercer. Legere's four-octave powerhouse voice and multi-instrument mastery powers the opulent, raw, sizzling R&B infused musical score. The 70-minute performance piece will also include provocative lesbian films, dance numbers, spectacular special effects and intimate portraits of Joe's girlfriends.

Heir to the Standard Oil fortune, Carstairs loved engineering, speed, and stiff competition. Joe broke the world speed record for motorboat racing in 1926, and at the height of her fame, sailed away from the glare of publicity. She entertained the jet set on her own, private, lesbian island in the Bahamas.

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Phoebe Legere (Writer/Performer) is an Acadian-Abenaki performance artist, author, multi-instrumentalist, artist, and community organizer??. She is a Juilliard-trained composer who underlines her philosophical and social message with music, text, movement, image and dance. Legere began her career as Resident Composer at The Wooster Group. She has had numerous academic appointments including Resident Artist at the School of Visual Arts where, in 2003, she invented a musical instrument: the Sneakers of Samothrace, a wearable computer for disabled children. Legere made her solo debut with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and has played with classical ensembles all over the world. She wrote an epic poem called "The Waterclown," about water issues and water rights, which she sang with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony. Legere's work, (with music co-composed by Morgan Powell) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2001.

In 2004, Legere revived her 1992 political play with music, Hello Mme. President, about the first female President of Color. The original cast included Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame great, LaVerne Baker, with Legere playing the First Partner. Legere received a NYSCA grant to write The Queen of New England, an experimental multimedia opera about the Massachusetts Native American Holocaust. The opera, produced by Roulette Intermedium in 2002, featured eleven Native Americans and four classical musicians.

Legere has recorded seventeen albums. After the video for her award-winning song "Marilyn Monroe" was seen by David Bowie, he invited her to open for him on his 1991 National Sound and Vision Tour. Legere's 2017 album Heart of Love went to #18 on the National Roots chart. She has had over a million views of her videos on YouTube.

Signed as a teen to Epic Records, Legere has throughout her career been active in the experimental avant-garde, contemporary classical world, and performance art world. She was head writer and host of the Roulette TV, a show about experimental art and music. She is an Acker Award Winner and MC of the annual Acker Awards. She has recorded for Mercury Records in England and Epic, Island, Rizzoli, Funtone, ESP Disk and Einstein Records in the United States.

Legere created an alternative fuel vehicle, a giant eagle puppet entirely made out of repurposed metal. She rode it around Northern California, doing performances on the solar stage, teaching school children about the environment. The SHAMANCYCLE was the subject of her 2015 film The Shamancycle Story. A prolific painter whose works are held in major museums and collections around the world including the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Legere has performed and exhibited all over the world, from Art Basel to the Venice Biennale. A student of Larry Rivers, Hunter S. Thompson, Morton Subotnick and John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Legere is now learning from the children of low-income communities. In 2006, Legere formed the New York Underground Museum and in 2014 she broadened the mission to bring art and music to underserved children of calling the new 501(c)3 entity Foundation for New American Art.

The New York Times has described her as a "charismatic showman who works the audience with the razor-edged skill of a veteran comic, poking, teasing, and caressing it with clever turns of phrase both musical and verbal... she can maintain a rollicking left hand that segues easily from stride to boogie-woogie while tickling the piano's upper register into sublime submission. Similarities to Jerry Lee Lewis are probably not impertinent either..." Billboard Magazine has described her as "the female Frank Zappa." And Studs Terkel, on National Public Radio hailed her as "an American original, she's fun, she's funny, she's smart, but the main thing about her is she's good."

Lissa Moira (Director) is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, director, and actor. Recently, Lissa directed an epic musical version of Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, adapted by Robert Sickinger with music by Alaric Jans. Lissa co-wrote and directed Siren's Heart: Marilyn in Purgatory, which originated at TNC and went on to a 14-month run Off-Broadway starring Louisa Bradshaw. Last year, Lissa directed Giovanni the Fearless, a commedia musical by Mira J. Spektor as well as Mira's Lady of the Castle, which moved from TNC to Opera America and a sold-out run at the Victor Borge Theater at Scandinavia House. Lissa's most recent writing/directing project was the hilarious paean and send-up of the Golden Age of the Musical, Grand Theft Musical, inspired by Robert Sickinger's Platinum Taps, with music by John Taylor Thomas. Lissa is over the moon at the prospect of teaming up with the phenomenon known as Phoebe Legere. Her talent is truly limitless.


An artistic incubator since 1986, Dixon Place is a Bessie and Obie Award-winning non-profit institution committed to supporting the creative process by presenting original works of theater, dance, music, puppetry, circus arts, literature and visual art at all stages of development. Presenting over 1000 creators a year, this local haven inspires and encourages diverse artists of all stripes and callings to take risks, generate new ideas and consummate new practices. Many artists, such as Blue Man Group, John Leguizamo, Lisa Kron, David Cale, David Drake, Deb Margolin and Reno, began their careers at DP. In addition to emerging artists, Dixon Place has been privileged to present established artists such as Mac Wellman, Holly Hughes, Justin Bond, Karen Finley, Kate Clinton and Martha Wainwright. After spawning a salon in her Paris apartment in 1985, founding Artistic Director Ellie Covan pioneered the institution in her NYC living room for 23 years. Covan was a recipient of a Bessie, a New York Dance and Performance Award and a Bax10 Award for her service to the community. Dixon Place received two Obie Awards, and an Edwin Booth Award for Excellence in Theater. Dixon Place has organically developed and expanded into a leading professional, state-of-the-art facility for artistic expression.

The Dixon Place Lounge is open before and after the show. Proceeds from the bar directly support Dixon Place's artists and mission.

Dixon Place is located at 161A Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey), in Manhattan's Lower East Side (By subway: B/D to Grand, F to 2nd Ave, J/Z to Bowery, 6 to Spring St, M to Essex St).

This production is made possible, in part, with public funds from NY State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Photo Credit: Peter Yesley

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