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All-ages drag show cancelled in Wetaskiwin triggers anger

The All Ages Drag Show scheduled for June 1 in Wetaskiwin, Alta., has been cancelled. The All Ages Drag Show scheduled for June 1 in Wetaskiwin, Alta., has been cancelled.
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The cancellation of an all-ages drag show in Wetaskiwin has caused frustration with several groups.

The June 1 show at Manluk Theatre was organized jointly by PRISM Wetaskiwin and Dragging Youth Group, said Andrew Reich, a representative of PRISM Wetaskiwin.

Reich stated that on May 22, a representative of the theatre told him over the phone that concerns were brought by a community member to the board of the theatre that the show was promoting grooming child sexuality.

An email sent by Executive Director of Manluk Theatre, Nikita Bartlett to Dragging Youth on May 23, at 10:18 a.m., reads "I have had some concerns about All ages drag shows being inappropriate and would like some insight.”

The following day, May 24 at 11:24 a.m., Reich received an email from Bartlett, notifying the group about the show being cancelled due to lack of ticket sales.

Part of the email reads that, “With the production date rapidly approaching and only 4 tickets sold, Wetaskiwin Theatre Society Board made the difficult decision to reconsider the feasibility and success of this event.”

The Director for the PRISM Wetaskiwin, Donald Haywood, said the decision to cancel the show was based on ‘lies and ignorance’.

“I am horribly disappointed by this decision. The Manluk Theatre’s decision was literally based on lies and ignorance. Not impressed at all,” Rayhood stated.

Dragging Youth Group, a co-organizer of the show, has also condemned the decision.

The group wrote on their Facebook page, "The board of the Manluk Theatre decided to cancel the show after signing a contract promoting the show and selling tickets. This decision is based on an uneducated, short-minded, intolerant ideology that an all-ages drag show with youth performances “grooms” queer sexuality (their words) and lifestyle in kids and other youth.”

Pride Edmonton also reacted to the decision on its Facebook by writing, "The 2SLGBTQ+ community has had to battle for decades simply to be treated with equality, equity, respect and dignity. To see the Board of a Community organization, funded by tax dollars take such a vile position is disgraceful and unlikely to represent the views of many of Wetaskiwin’s citizens and businesses who enjoy using their live COMMUNITY theatre.

The Theatre did not respond to an email request sent May 28 and a manager of the theatre reached by phone would not comment on the matter.  

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