Interview with writer and actress Charlotte Anne-Tilley

"Covid taught us that our government does not value art. We are seen as dispensable. Remember when we were told to pursue new careers? LOL. I think there’s a feeling of anti-establishment rebellion in theatre now."

Interview with writer and actress Charlotte Anne-Tilley

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hey! I’m Charlotte Anne-Tilley. I come from a small town up north called Macclesfield and I moved to London when I was 18. Basically, I got the. shock. of. my. life. Now, I’ve written an EdFringe show called Almost Adult about the mad stuff that happened in the first few years there. As an actor-writer, I love making work that explores difficult topics but in a way that’s funny and relatable. For me, the most powerful work is work that makes the audience go, “yeah, yeah, that’s IT!”. I also use a lot of multi-rolling, clown-style physical comedy and silly costumes so… my projects definitely aren’t your typical dark, gritty narratives about how shitty the world can be. Even though, don’t get me wrong, that stuff can be great.

How would you describe your show?

Almost Adult is a tragically comic solo show in which the main character,Hopemoves to London and gets a job at a dinosaur-themed bar. Everything is going amazingly until her boss starts acting in a ‘creepy’ way. Things spin out of control and Hope questions how ready she was to leave home after all. 

The show is funny, honest, and slightly heart-breaking. There’s dancing and physical comedy alongside moments of vulnerability. Come see it!

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

I never actually went to EdFringe until I was 19 (mid-way through my London crisis) and it blew my mind. The thing that sticks out most is the vibrancy and originality of the work I came across. I saw more work that blew my mind in my 7 days there than I had in the 2 years of living near the West End. For me, Edinburgh is the hub of work that pushes boundaries. Art for art's sake. Not for money. Not for commercial gain. For the joy of performance and storytelling. And that’s what it’s all about really.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

It’s so immersive. I’ve been to a couple of the Fringes in London and the city is so vast that they have a tendency to disappear into the background – as brilliant as the work there is. With EdFringe, it is a force to be reckoned with. It demands Edinburgh’s (and the world’s) attention and people sit up and listen. I love that.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

Ooh, good question. I have adored comic characters since I was a child. My parents always had Mr Bean or Blackadder on when I was growing up and the joy those shows brought to my family really inspired me to go and make work with equally funny and relatable characters. So, yeah, Rowan Atkinson.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career? 

I was thinking about this earlier today. I went to an incredibly strict Catholic school. Actually, a school similar to the Catholic school John Lydon of the Sex Pistols went to. He describes his as “anti-anyone-who-doesn't-quite-fit-the-mould." They could not stand me and my cheeky personality. And this has definitely affected me as an artist. I felt boxed in and silenced at school. There was no real artistic encouragement. The drama department was depressing. But, in a way, it probably made me hungry for creativity. It probably helped give me the rage and passion that fuels me. So, cheers, All Hallows.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

I was an angel in the school nativity for 5 goddamn years straight and I was furious about it. I think I wanted to be Mary. Or any lead, basically…Jesus? I guess maybe that’s why I’m now doing a solo show - regaining my lost spotlight.

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

I mean… from the amount of rock band documentaries I watch, I would probably have pursued an equally precarious career in music. For now, I’ll stick to air guitar. 

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now? 

I definitely think outside the box with making work now. Stories can be developed and even performed on zoom. That would never have crossed my mind in the past.  

And in terms of Covid’s effect on my mentality as an artist, I think there’s been a realisation amongst a lot of performers now that nothing's guaranteed. Things can be cancelled, pulled, postponed. I never really realised that was possible before. It makes me value the times when it works out even more. But also, unfortunately, Covid taught us that our government does not value art. We are seen as dispensable. Remember when we were told to pursue new careers? LOL. I think there’s a feeling of anti-establishment rebellion in theatre now because we were silenced and underfunded for three years. Totally undervalued. We won’t forget that and we’ll fight even harder for our voices to be heard. 

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Oh great oh no, oh

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’? 

I think art should be able to explore all topics but that’s not to say that artists don’t hold responsibility in the messages they are putting out into the world. I don’t know if ‘cancel culture’ is the most productive way to grow as a society, personally. But, my view as an artist is that we have to interrogate what we are trying to say with our work. If someone’s work is needlessly targeting a marginalised group, then I think the performer has to sit themselves down and have a think about what they stand for and what they are actually trying to do. Cheap laughs are easy, actually making positive change is harder.

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

I mean, I have to say Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Probably an obvious choice but she really paved the way for so many women to create complicated, contradictory, and totally lovable characters. She brought the female solo show into the mainstream and showed the theatre and film industry that female stories are just as relevant as male stories. Thank you, Phoebe.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

I mean, it’s my first time so my advice may be absolutely terrible. But, I would say, with producing any show, remember your message, why you love this show and why you want to share it with people. That will get you through the harder moments. (Oooh, I think I need to take that advice for myself actually!)

When and where can people see your show?

You can find me at 13:40 at Gilded Balloon, Patter Hoose, Snug. I’ll be there allllll month (except 17 August when I’ll be sleeping).

Book yo tix!

https://tickets.gildedballoon.co.uk/event/14:4120/14:70858/

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

My twitter is @CharAnneTilley. My Instagram is @charlotteannetilley and my tiktok (which I JUST downloaded) is also @CharAnneTilley.


Almost Adult is at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose at 13:40 from 3rd – 28th August. For tickets go to www.edfringe.com

Header Image Credit: Zoë Birkbeck

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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