As the town of Oakham staged its first ever Pride event, Oakham School pupils joined members of the local community to celebrate this historic day. Voluntary Action pupils gave their time by helping the organisers to set up their stalls, handing out wristbands for the event and marshalling the Pride March. Pupils Rosie and Zsolti reflect on the events of the day.
Form 6 pupil Rosie said: “With singing, dancing, music and food it was certainly a historic day. The Oakham School Scholars performed multiple spectacular monologues and duologues all centring on stories of men and women coming out. Overall, their performance was spectacular – some pieces were so moving they left us in tears and some were so silly we could not stop laughing. The march itself consisted of over 400 people who walked from Cutts Close to the Castle. The Castle was the centre of the parade, where we were fortunate enough to witness multiple choirs perform all manner of songs from ‘Tragedy’ by The Bee Gees to ‘How Far I’ll Go’ from the film Moana. It was wonderful to see so many Oakham pupils attend the event; it truly felt like a celebration of love and belonging."
Form 7 pupil Zsolti led a group of young actors in an emotional rehearsed reading which was attended by the public.
She said: “The scholars and I were asked if we could contribute a reading of a play, or similar. I settled on a play called Outings, a collection of over 20 'coming out' stories from different people all over the world, written by OOs Matthew Baldwin and Thomas Hescott. They range from light-hearted 'Mum, Dad, I'm gay' stories to much darker experiences like conversion therapy, and I thought that the messages presented by the piece were incredibly important, especially for Pride. Not only that, but I felt that the theatrical challenges posed by these stories would provide an excellent challenge in empathy and maturity for the scholars."
"With a cast of myself, Mesi (F5), Rowley (F4), Eloise (F4) and Lily (F4), we set about choosing our favourite stories from the collection to perform. We ended up with a 30-minute piece, consisting of witty chorus dialogue, entertaining duologues, and emotional monologues, all of which the scholars undertook with maturity and a strong understanding of the importance of their words."
"The reading took place in Old School, an echoey venue that challenged our clarity and diction. I am pleased to say that we had a much larger audience than we could have ever hoped for. This consisted mostly of members of the public who had attended the march. The performance went amazingly, with many audience members remarking on how moved they were, testament to the sincerity and care with which the scholars rehearsed and performed."
"Overall, it was a very eye-opening experience for everyone involved, as well as a pleasure to be able to contribute to Oakham's first-ever Pride, and I am sure Oakham’s students will have plenty more to offer in Prides to come. I hope that everyone who went was able to take something away from the various stories and that the actors involved felt that this was a unique and valuable experience.”