DMU Pride & Gypsy Queen interview

DeMontfort University have held a DMU Pride event to celebrate LGBT History Month since 2015. This encompasses all sorts of supportive events within the university as well as cultural events at Curve and Phoenix Cinema.
This year Curve is hosting five events throughout February, four theatrical performances and one dance workshop. One of the shows on is a very welcome return of Gypsy Queen after its sold out show last year.
I spoke to Rob Ward, writer and actor in Gypsy Queen and asked him if he deliberately booked the show in for DMU Pride or did they approach him?
“We actually worked with them last year” he said “and we were approached to do the show last year for their Pride events in one of the cute rehearsal rooms at Curve and we sold out. So when we were approached for this year I got on to Curve, spoke to Nikolai Foster and they came and saw the show and this time we are booked in the Studio.”
I mentioned that DMU were probably quite unique in spreading their LGBT awareness outside of the university
“Yeah, they have fostered such a good relationship with Curve that they can have this mini LGBT festival”
Then we moved on to Gypsy Queen. I wanted to know why Rob, as the author, wanted to set it within the travelling community.
“I already had a small play about two gay boxers and I was looking to extend it to a more full length show, a studio tour. The problem was I couldn’t find an angle to extend the story. Then about three years ago there was the whole incident with Tyson Fury and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award when he made a series of homophobic, sexist and generally awful comments around the time he had won the World Heavyweight title. There was an almighty uproar because he was shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality award despite these remarks having been made public. This was a big issue for me because sport doesn’t have role models for the LGBT community. It doesn’t have openly LGBT sports people for fans like me. I don’t feel like I belong in that world. So when the whole Tyson Fury thing came out I wondered just why he felt he had to say these things about gay people. What was his personal interest in all this? Then it crossed my mind what if he was gay himself? What if it was that classic defence mechanism? Maybe it is a case of those with most to hide shout loudest, and in that moment I thought what if one of  these boxers is from the Traveller community. Suddenly you are bringing in not only a world of sport but also a community in which it is also very difficult to be gay but also the whole catholic debate and it gives the story a few more layers. You have two men, one from the world of professional sport and one from traveller community meeting and falling in love and suddenly the story burst into life.
“On this tour we have had a cast change, we have gone back to the original actor, Ryan Clayton [known for Josh Tucker in Coronation Street] now that he is available. He created the role of the sexually confident but closeted boxer, Dane,  while I played the repressed gay traveller, George.”
Gypsy Queen is on at Curve on Monday 25th February. Tickets are available from the Curve website.
The other productions for DMU Pride at Curve are Rubber Ring on Monday 18th February, the story of a 16 year old isolated on the Norfolk coast who runs away to London to see his hero Morrissey. On Wednesday 20th February there is Drip, a one man musical comedy about a 15 year old synchronised swimmer who can’t swim. On Thursday 28th February there is Joan, a drag king’s homage to the men she defies. Finally, for those feeling brave, there is a dance workshop on Friday 22nd February for those who want to learn to walk or dance in heels. Or maybe just take a class for the hell of it!

Full details of Curve’s DMU Pride events can be found at or via the Curve website
The entire schedule of all events for DMU Pride can be found at
First published on Western Gazette