The new production Dumbledore Is So Gay at The Pleasance Theatre is a nostalgic hug to coming of age, coming out, and growing up with Harry Potter. Stephen Vowles had a chat with the play’s director Tom Wright.
Tom, do you have a fascination with the world of Harry Potter and was this a directorial opportunity too good to miss?
It was Robert’s play that truly grabbed my attention but growing up I’ll admit I loved Harry Potter. I used to go to the community library on the way home from school, and I remember the librarian showing me the first Harry Potter book like it was some sort of hidden secret. As Harry Potter quickly fever spread across the world, I insisted my friends called me Harry for at least two years of primary school. Safe to say I was obsessed, until I hit my teenage years and got distracted with boys and theatre.
When director Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE passed on Robert’s play to me, I was immediately attracted to his brilliant concept. The big idea of a young queer person being able to time travel to change, fix or manipulate the challenging hurdles so many of us must face – it was so theatrically fruitful. It asks brilliant questions about how to live a life and how to create change, and I loved the idea of reclaiming some of the elements of the Harry Potter world for a queer audience.
There is a magical quality to the books and films – did you think it important that this transfers to the stage?
Absolutely. The brilliant design team have really focussed on using the magic of storytelling and the rich potential of live theatre to bring Robert’s words to audiences in the most exhilarating way. Our three actors play multiple characters, locations appear and disappear before our eyes, and we even time travel. It’s a feast of theatrical devices! Beyond all that, audiences will get pulled into this uniquely charming, very funny, and deeply moving narrative.
Tell us about the play, without giving too much away? Can we expect a few surprises. comedy, magic?
We previewed the production at VAULT Festival and were blown away by the positive audience reactions. People from all backgrounds really saw themselves in the characters and many of the coming-of-age hurdles they faced. There’s so many twists and turns in the narrative so expect a full kaleidoscope of emotions and experiences.
Do you think the play presents a positive image about being gay?
It represents an honest portrayal, which includes the good, the bad and everything in-between. Ultimately the message is of self-love and queer empowerment. How growing up queer or gay – even with all its sadly inevitable challenges – is rich with opportunity and love and thrilling experiences. It reminds us that for all the trials of our times, progress is leaning towards acceptance and liberation. We will succeed.