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|Drag ‘redneck diva’ brings her lesbian ‘Lady Land’ to Atlanta Fringe Festival|
|by Jim Farmer|
|May 10, 2012 11:02|
Among the acts in the first annual, just-opened and very gay-friendly Atlanta Fringe Festival is a drag diva named Leola — brought to life by former Atlantan Will Nolan.
The openly gay Nolan grew up in Atlanta but moved to go to school at Wake Forest, then settled in New York in 1994. This is the first time he will be perform in Atlanta, save for a drama/theater event as a child.
Titled “Lady Land! The Coming Out ‘Reality Cabaret’ of a Jesus Loving, Senior Citizen, Redneck Lesbian Diva,” the show is the story of Leola, who is 72 years old and celebrating a new chapter in her life.
“She is a redneck diva, living in the same trailer with her ex-husband,” Nolan says. “She’s a fashionista, but she is not a lipstick lesbian. She thinks of herself more as a Chapstick lesbian.”
Yet the character really has no idea what a cabaret is, and can’t sing or dance, so she does a “reality” cabaret and talks about herself.
“She has turned to God for guidance,” says Nolan.
Leola was hatched as part of Nolan’s Naked Dog Walking sketches with a female friend.
“The response was good when we did Southern characters, so I decided to explore her more and give her a back story,” he says.
Despite the character’s “strong faith,” he says, “this is not a political piece – it’s not written with that in mind.”
“Lady Land!” premiered at Emerging Artists Theatre in New York City as part of their New Works Series in March of this year. When Nolan heard about the Atlanta Fringe Festival, he applied, relishing the chance to bring the character to the South – and to come home and re-acquaint with friends.
“It was all serendipitous,” he says. “I think LGBT audiences in Atlanta will like this.”
As a performer, writer and director, Nolan has been involved in theater and TV, including the series “Mortified.” He’s also written for gay fave Miss Richfield 1981, which he admits helped him shape Leola.
“I worked at Logo and my boss there managed Miss Richfield and he knew I had a writing background, so it came together,” he says.
“Lady Land,” though, is his first experience with a solo show. It runs tonight through May 12 at the Mask Center at the Little Five Points Community Center.
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