Dancing Bear comes to West Yorkshire Playhouse on 6th and 7th April. I was lucky enough to chat to the Director of the show, Jamie Fletcher, about her fantastic career and meaningful work.
What project in your career are you most proud of to date and why?
I think Dancing Bear would be the highlight so far. I’m really proud of this show. It’s rare to see shows like this that are explicitly exploring faith, sexuality and gender identity on a big stage. It’s rare to see LGBTQ+ people telling our own stories. It’s also rare to see a show that has integrated BSL interpretation and audio description as an integral part rather than just something that is added on the side.
“At the heart of the show is a universal message about inclusion and love. “
You’re an LGBTQ+ activist – what do you think needs to change most about our society and values and how can the arts help bring this change about?
I think we need to embrace difference. We are all different. We need to lift people up and allow people to flourish and be their whole selves. The art I make is often activism, art as activism. Live performance is a great tool to be able to share stories, educate whilst still entertaining and perhaps it can even change hearts and minds.
What is the most important message in Dancing Bear?
This is a show for all people regardless of your faith, sexuality or gender identity. At the heart of the show is a universal message about inclusion and love.
How many cast members are involved in Dancing Bear and what do they each bring to the performance?
There are ten multi-talented performers in the show. They sing, play instruments, dance and act. The cast are all very different. Some are straight and cisgender, others are gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, non-binary, trans and queer. Dancing Bear features multiple personal stories and testimonies told by the cast. I think that’s what makes it so powerful.
If you wanted the audience to come away with one thought or impression about the show, what would it be?
I would want an audience to think about lots of things. Faith, sexuality and gender identity are big subjects. I guess ultimately I want people to see how diverse our communities really are and should be. We are all different and deserve to be treated with love, dignity and respect.
It’s the first Trans Pride Leeds from 25th March to 7th April this year – what are you most looking forward to about the event (aside from Dancing Bear, of course)
As one of the main organisers of Trans Pride Leeds I have to say I’ve been excited about it all. We have lined up a range of events and celebrations taking place across the city including art, live music, talks and discussions, films, Q&As and theatre performances. The Trans Pride march took place on Saturday 31st March to coincide with Trans Day of Visibility. Approximately 200 trans and non-binary people and allies gathered outside Leeds Art Gallery and marched together through our city streets being proud and visible. What an incredible thing to see and be a part of.
What’s coming up next for you?
Well, of course Dancing Bear is on at West Yorkshire Playhouse on 6th and 7th April. After that I’m gonna take a little break with my partner Anne. Then I guess I will be back into the swing of things from then. I am directing a new dance theatre show and there are lots of other projects in the pipeline. To keep up to date with my work and my company’s work check out: www.facebook.com/JamieFletcherAndCompany
“We are all different and deserve to be treated with love, dignity and respect.”
Don’t miss Dancing Bear at West Yorkshire Playhouse!
Photograph credited to Matt Tullett.