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Alex Britt - Dumbledore Is So Gay Interview

After two highly successful runs at VAULT Festival and Pleasance London, winner of the VAULT Festival Origins Award and Offie-nominated phenomenon, Dumbledore Is So Gay returns to London this August at Southwark Playhouse Borough. Written by Robert Holtom (Guy Lines, The Lowry; The Quest; The Cluedo Club Killings, Arcola Theatre), produced by Hannah Elsy Productions with Jon Kingsley and directed by Tom Wright (My Dad’s Gap Year, Park Theatre; Undetectable, King’s Head Theatre), Dumbledore Is So Gay is a nostalgia-fuelled homage to coming out and coming of age in the 2000s.

Life is far from straight for Jack: he was sorted into Hufflepuff using the official online quiz, hates studying French at school, and is in love with his best mate Ollie. Jack is dodging bullies worse than the Slytherins and living in the metaphorical closet under the stairs, all whilst struggling with unrequited love. When it all gets a bit too much, he decides to change his story one spellbinding moment at a time to make the world a little more magical. Maybe this time he’ll get the guy... and end up in Gryffindor if he’s lucky.

Harry Potter fanatic Jack will be played by Alex Britt (Black Mirror, Netflix; EastEnders, BBC; F**king Men, Waterloo East Theatre; My Dad’s Gap Year, Park Theatre), Gemma is played by Charlotte Dowding (Splintered, Soho Theatre; Wind and the Willows, Derby Theatre; Romeo and Juliet, Young Shakespeare Company), and the role of Ollie is taken by Martin Sarreal, joining fresh from starring in the acclaimed, Olivier Award-winning Tammy Faye at the Almeida Theatre (Tammy Faye, Almeida Theatre; Corrina Corrina, Headlong Theatre & Liverpool Everyman; Sin, Royal Court).

Alex Britt

Ahead of the run at Southwark Playhouse Borough I caught up with Alex Britt to discuss the show.
What inspired your attraction to be part of the show?
As soon as I read Dumbledore Is So Gay, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I could envision the play, and the character of Jack, so clearly. It sounds clichéd, but it really jumped off the page, and into my head and heart. 

Robert’s writing is energetic and hopeful; clear and direct. It’s everything I feel a play should be. Entertaining and fun, heart-breaking and passionate, witty and charming. I was so excited at the prospect of playing Jack I immediately read it again after finishing it. And I’ve been obsessed ever since!
I think it’s the type of story that should be told. It’s
relatable, funny, moving, and if it was going to be staged, I knew I wanted in. 

How did you approach finding your character?
I relate to Jack a lot. We share the same life experiencesbeing LGBTQIA+ throughout the noughties, outside of London, in a time where attitudes were changing, but where being ‘gay’ was still considered an inherently bad thing by a lot of peopleIt was something to laugh about and wasthe butt of a joke. I believe that for myself and Jack, this experience is pivotal to the relationship we have with the world and ourselves. We both have very similar feelings toward queerness, and I recognise and empathise with the journey he goes onWe also share a love of escape, of stories, of freedom and expression. Whilst playing him try to channel those same feelings and experiences.

What I love about Jackin comparison to other characters I’ve played, is his unbridled optimism. His capacity for enthusiasmlove, and depth of feeling. It’s infectious. Even in the darkest moments(and he goes through a lot of those in this playhe still manages to find light, humour, and empathy. It’s something I find very inspiring and admirable. 

If you were at Hogwarts, what house would you be in?This is such a tough question for me…as a huge Harry Potter fan growing up, I initially wanted to be in Gryffindor, but as a teenager began relatingt o Hufflepuff houseI don’t know if it was something about being an ‘underdog’ or having a feeling (whether true or not) that people had low hopes for you and wanting to defy those low expectations, but I’ve always been very hard-working, and loyal

However, as I’ve grown up, I feel like I’ve really come into my own, and am accepting of being a Gryffindor. I know. Boring. But it takes a lot of nerve, bravery, and determination to be an actor in this industry – and whilst I still feel a draw to and have huge appreciations for Hufflepuffs – have to be true to myself and who I am, and I’m most definitely a Gryffindor

How wonderful it is for a LGBTQ+ story to be told, how vital is it that these stories are given a stage?
It’s incredibly vital. 

The beautiful thing about theatre is that it holds an immeasurable amount of power and agency in this countryIt’s where stories, ideas, political movements and identities can all breathe and existas something else, as an ethereal presence or being. Theatre can bring light to stories that some institutions are too scared or unwilling to touch. Most of the time, it’s not afraid of controversy, or of upsetting the status quo. Historically, it’s been where rebels seek solace and retribution; it’s where we as audiences in the present go to be moved, and experience lives outside of ourselves.

With these fleeting moments come a great sense of purpose and responsibilityas theatre-makers, actors, writers, etc.the more we tell truthful LGBTQIA+ stories, the more we understand each other as a community and the more we are understood by others.

Life is about connection, and everyone wants to be seen or to feel as if they belong somewhere. Theatrically, telling these stories can do that for us. For all members of the community – young and old to be seen and recognised is sometimes all it takes to remember that we’re part of something bigger, that it isn’t all doom and gloom out there. We exist, and we are valid. 

So it’s wonderful that not only Jack’s story gets to be told again, but Ollie’s as well. And Gemma’s. All the characters in Dumbledore. They all have their rightful place on stage because their stories, and experiences are all valid, and deserve to be heard. 

What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show?
I would love for audiences to take the power of unbridled queer joy away from the show. There are some heart-breaking and devastating moments throughout, but the real essence of it lies in Jack’s resilience and his determination. Despite (and sometimes because of) the darkness we experience and feel in life, we can find extraordinary happiness right there next to it.

What performances/shows have inspired you in the past?
I remember so distinctly seeing People, Places, and Things by Duncan Macmillan about a week after I’d moved to London in September of 2015when it was first on in the Dorfman at the NationalIt was the first time I’d been to see a play on my own. it was a Thursday afternoon, I was unemployed, I’d nabbed the last ticket, and was blown away. Iknew instantly I was watching an all-time great play, and performance for the ages from Denise GoughShe was stunningHer timing and presence, her openness and vulnerabilitythe depth of feeling and emotion and the pure fire and energy she gave to each performance. It was so inspiring. I’ll never forget the feeling I had watching it; it’s still stuck with me nearly eight years later. 

I am an avid theatre goer, so I’d feel aggrieved not to mention other performances that have inspired me, including but not exclusive to… 

Billie Piper in Yerma at the Young Vicanother fantastically written play, and performance that literally took my breath away. The realism, the rawness, the feeling. 
My God, Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge in the West End was a huge one for me, his presence, and power was jaw-dropping.
Andrew Scott in Hamlet at the Almeida – his ‘to be or not to be’ was mesmerising, you could hear a pin drop, we were all transported and captivated by him.

And finally, everything Imelda Staunton has done on stage in the last eight years: GypsyGood PeopleFollies and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? That woman could literally perform an encyclopaedia and it’d be incredible. She’s a powerhouse, a juggernaut, and I’m obsessed. 

One show I wish I’d seen, but have read and loved, is Mayfly by Joe White. It’s an incredibly beautiful play about grief, and I’m gutted I missed it. 

One show I wish I could watch all over again for the first time, just to reexperience its genius is This House by James Graham. Having studied that exact period in A-Level History, I was in political geek heaven. James is a stunning writer and I’ll always be one of his biggest fans: but that play was so funny, entertaining, and politically and theatrically exuberant. I’m in awe of his craft, range, commitment, and dedication to theatre. That show will always be in my heart. 

Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Hilarious, heartfelt, magical. (Finally, a question where I haven’t written a dissertation as an answer!)

Dumbledore Is So Gay runs at Southwark Playhouse Borough from Wednesday 16th August until Saturday 23rd September. Tickets are available from

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