With Pride month here, we were thrilled to interview one of our students about what Pride means to them. Alongside other Stagecoach students, Stagecoach Wokingham students wowed us with their performance of songs from Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Shaftesbury Theatre Showcase back in March. Playing the iconic role of Jamie was Harry but it wasn’t just Jamie New that Harry was embodying when they were up on the West End stage.
“I actually really wanted to put my take on this as a whole and the help of Claire [the Principal of Stagecoach Wokingham], Kat [singing teacher] and Yas [dance teacher], we managed to make that a reality,” Harry said. “So, instead of me essentially playing Jamie we thought it’d be best if I played myself because we weren’t just performing Jamie’s story, we were presenting our own stories and our own personalities. We had a very diverse cast for Jamie and a lot of us are part of the queer community. Yas used a lot of our own personalities in the choreography to show who we are.”
For Harry, “it was an amazing experience to be able to present a story and show truth of the matter that being who you are is the best decision you can make for both your mentality and health. Productions like that are what helps LGBTQ youth come out into their own spotlight and it’s awesome that both the musical and film have hit the mainstream so incredibly hard and it paid off because it got nominated for a 2022 BAFTA for outstanding British film. And all I can really say about it is that it really is a work of art.”
Looking across the wider performing arts industry, Harry has shared that “within the performing arts industry, I’d like to see more awareness. Lots of films and series are casting heterosexual actors and actresses to play the queer roles and it annoys me because for the longest time so many different communities have had so much taken away from them, most of which they rightfully own, so I’d like to see more queer actors actually playing queer roles. Lots of shows and plays talk about very serious situations. Most problems have been swept under the rug for so many years as it was seen as not necessary or a waste of time and in shows they almost display the same layout. They mention something serious then crack a few jokes and it’s never talked about again. And I even commented on a video of a show where they did the exact same scenario and I got a reply saying, “it’s a kids show you can’t expect them to talk about depressing things all the time”. And I simply replied, “Yes I know that but I feel it’s better to come up with a solution for the dilemma rather than sweeping it under the mat”.”
As Pride month comes around, Harry has said that for them, Pride means seven key things. They are: “Freedom, Justice, Activism, Family, Honour, Acceptance and Inclusivity.” After over 8 years at Stagecoach, Harry has now taken on a new role as Early Stages Assistant and said that the most important thing for other young people struggling to find their feet in the world is time. Harry said, “It takes time to do everything. Learn, grow and heal. You need to experience as much as you can because honestly self identity is like a gold mine; you’re going to have to scrape through so much dirt to be able to find that little nugget of gold. And your self identity can change throughout your life as you grow older and grow into your own self, but just be honest to who you are.”
Harry describes their time at Stagecoach as “heavenly”. Harry shared, “I’ve been at Stagecoach Wokingham for 8-9 years and they’ve been the most sentimental meaningful years of my life. I don’t know how but the teachers always know how to connect with you on such a true level which always helped me feel comfortable doing everything. They allowed me to feel myself grow not just as a performer but as a person as well. I always thought of Stagecoach as just a bunch of talented outcasts and misfits finding their voices as a whole and making connections and friendships along the way. But maybe we are all looking for that.
“Being an assistant is whole new story. It fills you with a sense of gratitude just knowing you’ve helped change a child’s life and you get to watch them develop their acting, their singing and their dancing. You watch them mature from young children all the way up to young adults. And you have a heavy responsibility of making sure the kids are okay. I know that’s typically a part of the job but you have to make sure they’re okay whether it’s home life, school life or even mental well-being. We try and separate them so we can let them know we are a safe place where you can speak freely and know that you have people behind your back to support and bolster you on a good path.”
Harry gave a final piece of advice to both those in the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, “If you ever want to educate yourselves or you need help contact thetrevorproject.org
. Text or call and they can connect you with a trained counsellor.”