Interview with Johnny Partridge

Johnny Partridge takes some time to talk to Voice about his show, his struggles with sobriety and cancer, and gives advice to young people.

Interview with Johnny Partridge

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hello I’m Johnny Partridge!

Tell us about your show?
STRIPPED is a new beginning. A reinvention of myself in many ways... Life has a way of hardening you, at least mine had. This is my attempt at shedding those skins and saying goodbye to part of myself. Embracing somebody I knew a long time ago. Through film, poetry, music, song, and dance I tell my story and in turn ask the audience to consider theirs. From 6, 12, 26, 46, 66... I will never be 66! Not all at the same time anyway. Love, loss, sexuality, sobriety, success, my life. Featuring original choreography and music alongside Bush, Bowie, Buckley, Boy George, Sia, and many more!

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is it different from other festivals?
I’ve never performed at the Fringe before. Although I have played the Edinburgh Playhouse many times with Cats, Miss Saigon, and most recently La Cage Aux Folles. I premiered this show at The Other Palace in London in February. At that time I was newly sober (100 days to be exact!) and so the show was very raw and honest. In some ways it was a union with myself, asking those persons there present to watch over me as I began my new life. It had never occurred to me that other people might too be struggling with similar issues. An audience member at that time (actually the head of casting at the BBC!) said, “The show started and it was about you, and it ended up being about me.”

This had a profound effect on me and I wondered what sort of life it could have. Coming to Edinburgh was a natural choice. I am producing the show myself and this is very much a project for me. It is hugely personal and I have found it to be incredibly rewarding... and exhausting! When you see the show you will understand.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?
I don't think at six I was particularly motivated to enter the industry, but that is when I started performing. Performing is in my DNA. You could say I was born to do it. As a child I never really had inspirations I just knew I loved the feeling I got when I danced or sang. Somehow doing that helped me grow. I found who I was through that. Then I guess you could say I lost part of it...STRIPPED deals with how I found that again, and why.

I have been lucky to work with some icons of my industry, but it is longevity that inspires me, as that’s impressive. To have the ability to keep going in this business. To even want to... as it takes guts and sheer grit. Anyone who sticks it out and still has a desire for it inspires me. It can be brutal and cruel, yet beautiful and joyful. Extreme highs and crushing lows.

Youth inspires me, my musical director on this show is 22, he has his whole career ahead of him, that inspires me, and makes me slightly nauseous!!! My family has always been extremely important to me. We are small and perfectly formed as they say. My Husband, my family are everything to me. They are also without question my inspiration.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?
STRIPPED deals with my life and so therefore it is constantly evolving and changing as I am. As I mentioned before the last time I performed STRIPPED I was only 100 days sober.

When I open in Edinburgh I will be closer to 300 My perspective on that and therefore myself has changed. My recovery is constantly changing and the notions of why, what, how, and when are constantly being re-examined. I have and incredible amount of energy right now and it is all going into this process. As far as being a social commentator I have been vocal about my sobriety and it has had a huge effect. We are all very similar as much as we don’t like to admit it. I don’t feel pressure but I do feel that there is safety in numbers and letting people know your struggles, views, coping mechanisms helps. Talking helps, or in my case talking, singing, generally making an exhibition of myself!

Equally, do you feel there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work?
I think people were surprised to hear that I too had struggled. I think people were surprised to hear that I’d had cancer. We all have preconceived ideas about people and their lives. We all have a public and private persona. We all present ourselves a certain way. Either to hide, sometimes to be the person people expect or sometimes we try to be the person that we really want to be. I did this for a long time. Dressed up, painted a face on it. As an actor, sometimes it’s easier to pretend to be someone else than ourselves and we get good at it! Now, I am finally myself. I finally have found a way to not have to dress up. To not have to use drink or drugs to feel like somebody. I finally feel. I finally feel like me!

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?
A defining year without question.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?
It is not for the faint hearted! I have to say that I found the whole process extremely difficult... but that’s a question for another time!

And what advice do you wish you’d been given when entering the industry?
None because I wouldn’t have listened to it anyway! You can’t give anyone advice about this industry because what works for you is not going to work for them. All you can do is be the best you can be at any given time. That’s not really about the industry is it? That’s about life.

When and where can people see your show?
I am performing at Assembly Checkpoint at 1830h Aug 1-12, 14-19-21-26.

And where can people find, follow and like you online?
I am on Twitter ( @mustbejp ) and Instagram (mustbejp)

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is a Politics graduate, and holds a Masters in Journalism. He serves as Editor for Voice, and has an almost unhealthy obsession with Batman. His hobbies include gaming and reading graphic novels - his current go to series is Bill Willingham's Fables.

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