Heard on CultureShift

Twenty Years Later, Hedwig and the Angry Inch Still Boasts a Powerful Message

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Image credit: Courtesy of PublicCity PR

The punk rock musical tackles identity politics and gender fluidity at the Detroit Public Theater through February.

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In the late 1990s, two New Yorkers – playwright John Cameron Mitchell and composer Stephen Trask –  debuted the story of “Hedwig”, an East German, male-born cabaret singer who undergoes a forced sex change. 

The Off Broadway production, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” inserted a radical message rooted in identity and gender politics. 

People that are non-binary and don’t identify with either gender find a lot of solace in Hedwig’s kick-assery and tenacity.” - Scott Anthony Joy, actor

 “It has so much to say about gender and gender identity and transcending gender,” says Courtney Burkett, director of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and producing artistic director at the Detroit Public Theatre. “As our culture has shifted, Hedwig resonates differently now than she did 20 years ago.”

At its core, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” is a story that takes painful experiences and creates a liberating celebration designed with punk rock drag and heart-hitting melodies. 

It’s the ultimate lemons into lemonade kind of story,” says Scott Anthony Joy, who stars as Hedwig in DPT’s production. “Certainly people that are non-binary and don’t identify with either gender find a lot of solace in Hedwig’s kick-assery and tenacity.” 

 Burkett adds, “It’s exciting  to see how the culture shifts around the piece and how the piece shifts around the culture.” 

Click the player to hear Scott Anthony Joy and Courtney Burkett of ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ about the staying power of this cult-classic production. 

Hedwig and the Angry Inch” will be showing at Ant Hall at 2320 Caniff St., Hamtramck, Mich. through Feb. 29. Find tickets here.

Post written by LaToya Cross 

Audio interview by Ryan Patrick Hooper


Ryan Patrick Hooper, Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper is the host and producer of CultureShift. As a longtime arts and culture reporter.

hooper@wdet.org Follow @hoopingtonpost

LaToya Cross, Producer, CultureShift

LaToya Cross is a Producer with CultureShift, where she produces in-depth content that spotlights creatives and individuals using their platform to examine, cultivate, shape and shift culture.

Latoya.cross@wdet.org Follow @ToizStory

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