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Saturday 11 April 2015

Pride preview: We are all worthy

Posted in: Performance
By Jacqui Stanford - 15th February 2015

Auckland Rainbow Community Church has pulled together a diverse cast for its Auckland Pride Festival musical theatre production Worthy!!! It’s being performed in the beautiful St Matthew-in the-City. We had a chat to its director and a few cast members.

The musical is based around songs from the popular YouTube series The Hinterlands, which explores issues around identity, coming out, bullying and acceptance.

(L-R) Helene, Sergio, Daniel, Vaughan (director) and Will

Director Vaughan Shepherd says he was driven to do something creative, and loved the message of The Hinterlands. He says it’s about telling young people that it doesn’t matter if you’re queer, straight, bi, transgender – you’re great just the way you are.

“I really wanted to get that message out to our community. So much more often than not the message from churches has been quite negative towards our glbt community and Auckland Rainbow Community Church are all about accepting with open arms a community which is probably had a pretty tough time with the church.

“The message, although it’s secular, is a universal message and it was a message which captured and inspired me. It’s ‘you are worthy of life. You are worthy of love’. Those are things that we struggle with as glbt. Especially those who grow up in religious homes – we struggle with it even more, because we think we’re maybe not. And that’s not the message that I think the church should be giving out to our glbt community.

“And we’ve seen changes throughout the world, but there’s always a pendulum swing – you get some churches that swing in the completely opposite direction and start telling people they’re no good. I think the more positive messages we get out there that love is universal and love is the universal language. It will bring people together and it will make communities one.

“That’s why I think this is a wonderful musical to bring to our Pride Festival – and hopefully make 2015 a great and fantastic year.”

The cast’s take

Helene’s character dresses in dark emo and gothic clothing to hide her personality. “She actually loves getting out there and being part of the crowd, but has never fit in. She’s lesbian and her parents don’t know this. No one really knows this about her. And throughout the course of the play, or musical, she comes to terms with this and accepts it.”

She says the play has a number of messages around accepting people for their sexuality, age, religion, what they look like. “I think combining music with the message that the play has, you can’t really go wrong, because music speaks to people on more levels than, I think, words can.”

An experienced performer, she has enjoyed seeing the raw talent of her fellow cast members, which she says works perfectly with the music. “It just makes it so real.”

Daniel plays main character Paul, also a student. He is the most openly-gay of the characters. “He understands the pain that some of the other characters feel and tries to help them through it as best he can.”

He hopes people take the message that everyone should be accepted for who they are or what they wish to portray. “Just a sense that we’re all human, live with it. If you don’t like somebody, it’s no excuse to go bash them into a locker!”

Will plays Darrell, “the loser” whose sexuality isn’t really clear. “He’s the one of the four main characters who makes a transformation, but realises that it doesn’t change anything about him.”

He has enjoyed the whole process of being involved in the play – most of the cast were strangers and come from a range of nationalities, backgrounds and have a range of abilities. “The actors themselves are very diverse.”

Sergio plays Jake, something of a bully, who is struggling with his own sexuality. “He tries to be exactly the opposite – that’s why he’s so bad all the time.”

The Brazilian says as he is not a native English-speaker (his English is fantastic though actually) playing a main character has been a big challenge.

Sergio says one thing that he finds quite interesting in the play is when people start to believe in labels others give you. “I think this musical is about when you believe these labels are a lie, and you can realise you are worthy. It’s quite a beautiful message.”

All of them would love you to come and check out Worthy!!!

Worthy!!! Is being performed at St Matthew-in-the-City, on the corner of Wellesley and Hobson St, on Sunday February 15 at 5pm and Thursday 19 February at 7pm. Entry via koha (a donation).

Jacqui Stanford - 15th February 2015

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