Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Danish Girl inspires Wandsworth show celebrating LGBT role models

Eddie Redmayne’s performance as a trans pioneer in The Danish Girl has encouraged a Wandsworth theatre company to produce its own LGBTQ show.

Set in Copenhagen in the 1920s, the Oscar-winning star plays Lili Elbe, one of the first known people to undergo sex-reassignment surgery.

Inspired by this, Prevail Theatre in Wandsworth is now producing its own celebratory LGBTQ show.

One of the heart-felt stories in the play is about someone coming to terms with being trans.

Robert Beck, Prevail Theatre’s director, said: “When I was growing up as a young LGBT person I didn’t feel like there were any positive role models for me to look at, people would be dying of AIDs or they would be camp clowns.

“I wanted to create a show that said you can lead a full healthy happy life and be LGBT.”

Prevail Theatre celebrates the strength of the LGBTQ community.

Mr Beck said: “With a show like ours, which is so close to home for many of our performers, even if it’s not necessarily their stories it’s certainly stories that they resonate with.

“It’s not like doing Shakespeare where you’re reading words on the page.

“This is actually people’s lives and this has actually really happened to people and stuff people have gone through.”

He is re-developing a play based on the research Prevail Theatre did at the Putney Arts Theatre for 2016.

Prevail rehearsal shot 3 Laura Matthews

“The real-life celebratory stories will be at the heart of the show,” the director explained.

Prevail Theatre’s production will stage a positive LGBTQ narrative that provides role models for young people.

The LGBT advocate said: “I’m quite passionate about giving younger audiences the chance to see the show.”

When growing up Mr Beck said he didn’t really feel there were many positive role models for him to look up to.

He said: “I feel actually that is sadly still the case.

“I mean we’re getting there. I think there are more role models than when I was growing up and certainly when the generation before me was growing up.

“But I do think that we need to be showing people, not just in the cities.”

As the show progresses, Mr Beck plans to take on more performers and aspires to go beyond London into the more rural areas where people are less exposed to LGBT theatre.

“I want to get the show out there to as many audiences as possible,” he said.

Prevail Theatre want to touch on ‘every colour of the whole spectrum’ of the pride flag.

“It’s not just about gay men, it’s about gay women. It is about trans people. We’re really interested in exploring bisexuality and about straight people,” Mr Beck explained.

Prevail rehearsal shot 2 Laura Matthews

With the popularity of Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox, trans-issues are now much more widely spoken about.

Mr Beck said: “Transgender people are really in the public eye at the moment.

“I think it is great that we are seeing more mainstream presentations that not necessarily people who are just interested in transgender but people who just go to the cinema might see.”

Mr Beck is interested to see how this important part of trans history is brought to an audience, who are not necessarily aware of it, by The Danish Girl.

“I think there is still a lot of ignorance around transgender, transsexual, the different terms. There are a lot of questions that people have,” he explained.

“I think it’s really important to start asking those questions and start asking for answers.

“And I think having a star like Eddie Redmayne who is so big at the moment and so recognisable as the lead will certainly bring in audiences who may not access it otherwise.”

There is a lot of LGBTQ literature and films already out there for people to consume but not necessarily accessible for mainstream audiences.

Mr Beck is sure The Danish Girl will have a positive impact if people go away asking questions, what does it mean to be transgender?

He said: “I think this film is important for bringing it to the masses.”

Prevail Theatre’s show will be on tour with Camden LGBT Forum for their history month celebrations in February and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016.

Featured image courtesy of Focus Features via YouTube, with thanks

Pictures courtesy of Laura Matthews, with thanks

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