MR.RUSSELL HOUSE'S BIG ADVENTURE!
A CAMPY QUEER HISTORICAL PERFORMANCE OF A 'SELF-MADE' MAN
PERFORMED AT WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY, 8 PM ON MAY 8TH, 2017. LIVE MULTI-MEDIA DRAG PERFORMANCE.
DESCRIPTION: Samuel Russell [1789-1865] was a man of Middletown and a “man of the New Republic.” Mentored by other men about town, he became an international trader who made his fortune illegally moving opium from Turkey to China. With this money, he built a Neoclassical Urban Villa on High Street – which we now know as Russell House. In my archival, material, and performance study, I pay close attention to the sticky residues and traces that come “home” with Samuel Russell from his colonial enterprise abroad. How can the relationship between a so-called “self-made” man of the New Republic and that which he constructs himself against, be theorized and engaged through an embodied, staged practice? How can an embodied female masculinity involve not only gender failures, but failures and ruptures in logics of nationalism, colonialism, individual glory and legacy, masculine citizenship, and patriarchal inheritance? How might we become productively disoriented, together, amongst his furnishings? This performance-work relishes in the alternatives always already held amidst dominant historical stories, such as the biography of a man like Russell.
*SAMUEL RUSSELL’S FURNISHINGS: business papers and 19th century Middletown objects from Wesleyan University Special Collections and Archives, 19th century Middletown toys [blocks, marbles, dice, figurines] from Wesleyan University Archeology and Anthropology Collections, Russell family papers and objects from Middlesex Historical Society.