While the Bearded Ladies might be liberal in terms of their values, when it comes to COVID-19 they are demonstrably conservative. Even though the Center for Disease Control has suggested that people outdoors need not wear masks, the crew and talent onboard the Beardmobile diligently wear them. The performances are organized so keep audiences as far apart as possible.
The Beardmobile is not the only stage on wheels in Philadelphia. Shakespeare in Clark Park created its own Pageant Wagon last year, which made a brief turn through a few neighborhoods last October to perform “Every Everyman,” a version of the Medieval play “Everyman.” The performances on selected blocks were not advertised, in order to reduce crowds.
The Pageant Wagon was put under tarps for the winter. Now it’s being loaned out to Hedgerow Theater in Rose Valley for their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” in June.
Like the Pageant Wagon, the Beardmobile is being offered as a public theater resource to performers and community organizations who could use it. But the Beardmobile cannot easily shake off its drag; it reflects the aesthetic of the Bearded Ladies Cabaret, which accentuates gender fluidity, activism, and whimsy.
“Do you feel like you’re an organization or an artist or an activist that feels like their values align with the Bearded Ladies?” said Jarboe. “If you love queer joy, if you love queerness and silliness and glitter, if you feel like you need some pandemic performance in your life, then the Beards will be a resource.”