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The Tea

Butch Mermaid Productions


Categories: Comedy & Improv, Immersive/Interactive Experience, Storytelling

Dates: September 18, 2023 - September 25, 2023

Run Time: 40 mins

Venue: MAAS Building Garden


You are cordially invited to join drag performer Ania Upstill as they draw from their love of history and botany to recreate Robert Fortune, the real-life botanist who stole tea from China. Hear him spill the tea on his dirty dealings, and get your own fortune read in tea leaves by Fortune himself!

Tea, ubiquitously associated with the British Empire, was not at all British in origin. The story of how tea was stolen from China to became the most British of beverages is one full of drama, racism, piracy, drugs and, perhaps most surprising of all, botany. This show focuses on a most aptly named person, Robert Fortune, without whom the history of the tea – and perhaps the British Empire – would not have been the same.


Cannonball, produced by Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, is the first and largest independent festival hub of the Philadelphia Fringe that presents risk-taking independent artists in back-to-back performances next to delicious lounge spaces, fostering creative collisions and community conversation.

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About the Artist

Butch Mermaid Productions is a company that focuses on creating LGBTQIA+ work that emphasizes queer joy and the voices of gender diverse artists. BM has produced work in New York and New Zealand, and most recently toured two shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The company's more recent work is Antonio!, a musical about Shakespeare’s queerest character. Recent works include Too Much Hair, a gender euphoric musical cabaret; Exotic Blooms, a drag installation in the Auckland Botanic Gardens; queer ballet Sapphic Late; and Into the Bush, a queer circus-theatre project.

Artistic Director Ania Upstill Ania (they/them) is a queer and non binary performer, theatre maker, teaching artist and award-winning clown based in New York City. Ania is a graduate of the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre (Professional Training Program). Outside of BM's work, Ania most recently appeared in War and Play, a production in the 2023 Criminal Queerness Festival produced by National Queer Theater and Today’s Mess, a clown show about diversity, at Nancy Manocherian’s the cell theater.


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