Charlotte Josephine on Pops: 'Shame is a killer. We need empathy now more than ever'

Charlotte Josephine writes about their new play ”Pops”, which opens at the Edinburgh Fringe in association with HighTide

Charlotte Josephine
Charlotte Josephine
© HighTide

Pops grew from a personal place into something that I hope is more universal. Father-daughter relationships have always fascinated me and I'm a bit obsessed with the idea that what's not said affects the body, sits in us, rots our bones even, or finds a way to spill out sideways. I've now been braver about writing less, letting the silences speak for themselves, and paying closer attention to the body, what makes us want to move.

I'm really fucking furious at the way the media shames addicts – painting good people as greedy, lazy and stupid. It's hard to get well when the consistent narrative surrounding addiction is that you're bad, not sick. Shame is a killer. We need empathy now more than ever; austerity is so cruel to those who need help the most. But, yeah, in reality, forgiveness is hard work. It takes a lot of courage to practice empathy.

The Edinburgh Fringe is a bit of a beast. I've enjoyed success here with both Bitch Boxer (2012, 2013) and Blush (2016) but that doesn't make this year any less scary. What if no one comes to watch it? What if they all come and hate it? What if I'm banned from ever making work again and chucked out in the sea to the sharks? I'm really grateful to be working with HighTide and Live Theatre – we just couldn't afford to come to the Festival this summer without their support. Being under HighTide's Disruption season umbrella feels safer with a community of brilliant artists and some financial and creative support.

This is my first year at the Fringe solely as a writer – I keep pacing and making everyone tea

This time round I've prioritised having a nice time. It sounds daft but Ali, Jake and I have said from day one that we want to make work we're proud of and have a laugh whilst we're doing it. That's been the barometer we've measured decisions on every step of the way. The result is a really beautiful creative team, that are a joy to be in a room with – no stressy emails, no drama.

This is my first year at the Fringe solely as a writer which is a strange new position for me – I keep pacing and making everyone tea. I hope to see more community amongst writers in future years at the Fringe. It can be a lonely job so the more we help each other out the more fun it all can be. It's nice to be back at Assembly as I performed in my first ever play, Perffection, there in 2011. I love its sweaty and shabby chic intimacy, it feels proper honest, which is perfect for Pops.

Theatre is a collaborative art form which is much more fun than trying to do it alone. I'm jammy as I get to work with amazing actors and designers, a brilliant producer and director. The whole creative team is amazing, I feel proper blessed to get to work with them. They've taken the words I wrote and made something beautiful. I'm really proud of Pops, mad grateful, and excited to share it.

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