Solas Nua and Studio Theatre to present ‘Panti Bliss: If These Wigs Could Talk’

The notorious and beloved drag 'Queen of Ireland' offers an expert weave of bawdy humor and tender soul-searching.

Solas Nua, Washington, DC’s premier contemporary Irish arts organization, has partnered with Studio Theatre to bring PANTI BLISS: IF THESE WIGS COULD TALK to Washington, DC. The show from THISISPOPBABY and the Abbey Theatre presents a full theatrical production written and performed by the “Queen of Ireland,” notorious and beloved drag queen Panti Bliss, directed by Phillip McMahon, produced by Jennifer Jennings and Laura Rigney, and presented with generous support by Culture Ireland. The performances will take place at Studio Theatre from June 26 – July 7.

Called a “forceful account of a remarkable life,” Panti Bliss “feelingly recounts her journey in a country long hostile to difference,” opening up about confronting the rise of right-wing movements in Ireland and their juxtaposition to progress in tangible law. With the gay marriage referendum making marriage legal for same-sex marriage but local libraries still feeling the threat of protestors for any drag queen story hour, a queen must find what defines radical action within shifting culture.

Panti Bliss in ‘If These Wigs Could Talk..’ Photo courtesy of Solas Nua.

After a lifetime of accidental activism, far-fetched shenanigans, and making a full-time show of herself, notorious drag queen Panti Bliss—the “Queen of Ireland”—is now taking a moment to question her purpose and place in this changing world.

Expect salacious stories, impassioned polemics, and some seriously funny soul-searching as Panti takes us from rural Mayo to London’s West End, where – along the way – the answer to her question presents itself where she least expects it.

Solas Nua’s Artistic Director of Theatre, Rex Daugherty shares, “This show is a remarkable ‘State of the Union address’ for why drag still matters today. While the art form began as a radical act of political protest, it might seem mainstream nowadays with prime-time programs and LGBTQ equality of marriage rights passed in the US and Ireland. But Panti’s sharp observations and real-life experience draw a poignant picture for how and where the fight for inclusion is still being waged.” He goes on to draw on the clear cultural need for this production: “We’ve seen across international communities that radical extremism is on the rise. Every generation has an obligation to put work into the world that combats this extremism. IF THESE WIGS COULD TALK is full of hilarious stories as well as a smartly integrated rallying cry on behalf of the drag community from an iconic generational voice. Because of this and her extraordinary talents, I am beyond proud to bring Panti Bliss to DC for the first time.”

“Studio has long been a home for international artists, and Panti Bliss is an international icon,” says Studio Theatre Artistic Director David Muse. “So when Solas Nua proposed that our theatres partner to host the ‘Queen of Ireland,’ of course we agreed. Panti is a passionate activist and comic genius. She has been a voice for LGBTQ communities in Ireland and the UK for years. Her current show takes the temperature of an Ireland that is both more radical and more reactionary than it was fifty years ago. Her work resonates with the current moment in the United States and we’re honored to amplify her voice here in DC.”

PANTI BLISS: IF THESE WIGS COULD TALK will run from June 26-July 7 on Studio Theatre’s Stage 4, 1501 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005. The show’s run time is 75 minutes. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased via the Studio Theatre website at and via their box office number 202-332-3300.


Solas Nua – ‘new light’ in Irish, is an international arts organization based in DC that is exclusively dedicated to contemporary Irish arts. Founded in 2005, Solas Nua acts as an ambassador and advocate for Irish arts in the US, promoting contemporary Irish culture, multi-disciplinary arts, and creativity. Solas Nua commissions, produces, and presents thought-provoking and groundbreaking work across genres, work that is cross-cultural – representing today’s Ireland, a contemporary, globally diverse society – and reflecting how Irish culture is shared across borders, ethnicity, and economic lines.


Studio Theatre is a longstanding Washington cultural institution dedicated to the production of contemporary theatre. Over more than 40 years and 350 productions, the theater has grown from a company that produced in a single rented theater to one that owns a multi-venue complex stretching half a city block, but has stayed committed to its core distinguishing characteristics: deliberately intimate spaces; excellence in acting and design; and seasons that feature many of the most significant playwrights of our time. Studio is a values-focused organization that pursues artistry and inclusion, and brings characteristic thoughtfulness and daring to our efforts, onstage and off. The theater serves nearly 75,000 people each year, including more than 1,000 youth and young adults through community engagement initiatives. Founded in 1978, the quality of Studio’s work has been recognized by sustained community support, as well as 78 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theater.


For fifteen years, THISISPOPBABY has been ripping up the space between popular culture, counter culture and high art, providing vehicles for our associate artists’ dreams and exhilarating and diverse access points to the arts. Our shows have played
 to over 280,000, winning major theatre awards and thrilling audiences around Ireland, the UK, Australia and beyond. Other recent highlights include: Winning Best New Play for Conversations After Sex by Mark O’Halloran (Irish Theatre Awards 2022); Winning Best Production (Dublin Fringe Festival 2016) and touring the world with RIOT; a sold-out world tour and accompanying film of Panti’s High Heels in Low Places in 2015; Where We Live Festival in 2018 as part of St Patrick’s Festival, a highlight of which was Tara Flynn’s acclaimed Not A Funny Word. “THISISPOPBABY has redefined modern Irish Theatre” — The Irish Times


As Ireland’s national theater, the Abbey Theatre’s ambition is to enrich the cultural lives of everyone with a curiosity for and interest in Irish theater, stories, artists and culture. Courage and imagination are at the heart of their storytelling, while inclusivity, diversity, and equality are at the core of their thinking. Led by Co-Directors Caitríona McLaughlin (Artistic Director) and Mark O’Brien (Executive Director), the Abbey Theatre celebrates both the rich canon of Irish dramatic writing and the potential of future generations of Irish theater artists.


Panti is Ireland’s foremost gender discombobulist and accidental activist. She began performing while an art student in the late ’80s before moving to Tokyo and becoming a fixture on the Tokyo club scene. Returning to Dublin in 1995 she ran some of Dublin’s seminal club nights, hosted the legendary Alternative Miss Ireland for 18 years, and performed all over the world.

Continuing to push boundaries for the LGBTQ community and making television history being part of the first same-sex couple to perform on Ireland’s Dancing with the Stars in 2023, Panti is continuing her on-going quest to help quench homophobia and marginalisation in Ireland, while marking a clear space for drag entertainment on Irish national television. She is also much in demand at home and abroad as a speaker and activist. Panti is also the landlady of her popular Dublin bar, Pantibar, which opened in 2007.


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