The Dyke Division was created as an independent wing of Two-headed Calf in 2008 with Brooke O’Harra, Jess Barbagallo, Laryssa Husiak, and Laura Berlin-Stinger, and later Sacha Yanow and Barbara Lanciers to develop Room for Cream, a live lesbian serial that ran for three seasons from 2008-10 and returned for a fourth season in 2017 at The New Museum.
This subversive soap opera situates itself in the fictional Sappho, MA, a lesbian enclave and life experiment that is paradoxically both separatist and inclusive by nature of its world-building aspirations. Sappho is home to a wild, sweet, and perverse collection of queers of diverse ages, gender expressions, and politics. Thinking through a communal modality—in practice and representation—The Dyke Division stages contemporary queer discourse in the vernacular of “soap,” simultaneously embracing and critiquing what constitutes popular culture in our current moment. The project aims to hold and represent the mess that ensues when a group of folks elect to consciously live against the monolith of patriarchy, sometimes in competing forms of vigilance. In a departure from my previous strategies of making work that demanded intense research and lengthy development periods, Room for Cream was a serial drama that had minimal rehearsals and operated as individual performance events instead of a fully realized production. The first twenty-four episodes of Room for Cream were performed over three seasons at La Mama’s Experimental Theater Club in downtown Manhattan; Season 4 moved to the New Museum for “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon.” Because each episode was developed quickly—as a response to the previous show as well as to current politics—and involved actors and non-actors alike, the room was charged with unpredictability and the delight of knowing that, at any given moment, anything is possible and everyone in the room is part of it. For “Trigger,” three new episodes continued the tradition of Room for Cream, while public rehearsals activated the Museum’s galleries and public spaces. Documentation of the original three seasons were featured on video monitors in Liz Collins’s installation Cave of Secrets (2017). As part of the show, the Dyke Division also created a youtube channel where you could watch all recordings of the live episodes of Room for Cream.
The Dyke Division also performed a version of Room for Cream in Istanbul in 2009. This project was a collaboration with Lambda Istanbul where three Dyke Division members (Becca Blackwell, Laryssa Husiak and Brooke O’Harra) worked with thirteen lesbian and trans folx in Istanbul to generate and perform live three original Turkish language episodes of a queer serial drama ala Room for Cream titled Kaygan Zemin (which is the Turkish for slippery floor – used on signs placed on wet floors).
The Dyke Division also embarked on a series of readings and events that reengaged queer texts from the 80’s and 90’s. This project allowed us to explore our relationship to queerness through a nostalgia for times we never experienced. This was as short-lived project called Bluefish Cove Talks.
Ghosts in the Ozarks – Stay tuned for the next live Dyke Division drama Ghosts in the Ozarks.
Watch all the recordings of the live Room for Cream episodes on the Dyke Division YouTube Channel.
Scripts for missing episodes in season 2 can be found here.
“The series created a real-life community of artists who continue to collaborate and who encourage one another to make explicitly queer and feminist work. It created a community of audience members who continue to show up to support these artists’ endeavors and who are encouraged to imagine better, queerer worlds.“
– The Brooklyn Rail
“Room for Cream” is tinged with the queer feeling that you might already be part of its production. It may present a utopia of sorts, one that its own instability does little to blemish, but it is the rare kind of charm that turns outward from itself into the world of the “real.”