Off The Shelf Event – Jamie Campbell

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On Monday night, I got the chance to see a talk with Jamie Campbell (star of documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 and inspiration for the amazing musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) as a part of Sheffield’s Off The Shelf Festival of Words. This was in collaboration with Sheffield Doc/Fest where I’m currently a trainee! The talk was called Desert Island Reads and was a spin on the popular BBC Radio 4 programme, Desert Island Discs. 

I saw the musical in the cinema a few months ago and loved it way more than I expected to. It’s funny and uplifting as well as heartwarming and moving. I will admit I did cry quite a bit but I just can’t cope with emotional maternal relationships okay?! I want to see the musical on stage and I was happy to have the opportunity to find out more about the ‘real’ Jamie at this event (plus it’s a bookish event so even better!)

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I forgot to take a picture after it started but how pretty is the Crucible!

The seats in the theatre were pretty full which was great to see. A lot of the questions were less about books/literature and more about Jamie and his life. This was fine because he has led a very interesting life and he’s such a genuinely down to earth person but it would have been good to have more bookish questions since that is what the event and festival is about. He named his Desert Island books though which were a really cool mix! They included The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams, 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell, the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Hollywood Wives (if I remember rightly) by Jackie Collins. There may have been a couple more but please forgive my memory! I loved the range of books and how different they were as well as how different his reasons were for loving each one.

To hear about the documentary and why he and his mum chose to get it made when he was 16 was fascinating. The way he dealt with homophobia at school and went to prom in a dress anyway is so admirable and mature for his age at the time too. I think we all know how hard secondary school can be for everyone, especially those of us who are seen as more different than others. Jamie also spoke a lot about his relationship with him mum, who sounds like an absolute delight. A large amount of questions from the audience were also about his mum – a lot of the points others brought up were about how important understanding and supportive parents are.

It was an interesting talk, I just wish it could have been a little more about the books he likes etc. However, the moderator, Tobias Oliver, was wonderful! Jamie seemed pretty nervous but the moderator was excellent at jumping in at the right moments and it felt like he put Jamie more at ease. He also announced that he will be releasing some LGBTQ+ short stories which is super exciting!

Is anyone attending/already attended any events at Off The Shelf? I really would like to go to some more when I get chance!

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