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Interview - Joe Sellman-Leava

David Cox

Aug 22, 2022

Having loved "Labels" we couldn't wait to see " Fanboy" and we weren't disappointed.

Joe Sellman-Leava kindly took time out of his busy schedule to give us this lovely interview

We thoroughly enjoyed " Labels" in 2017. Were you surprised at how well received it was?

Thank you so much! Definitely - we first brought the show to Edinburgh in 2015 and weren't expecting it to get the reception it did - it's so lovely when you make something that clicks with people.

Did it open doors and take you to places you didn't expect to visit?

Absolutely - we got to take the show to Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, North Carolina and Singapore, as well as all over the UK, which was lovely. We met some amazing people touring the show, and learned loads about making and touring our work. It was great hearing how the show connected with people in other parts of the world, who'd had different life experiences to us.

How was it revisiting the show for Shedinburgh?

It was really fun, as well as slightly surreal! Performing to an audience made up of just a few people - the camera crew and producers - was a very different experience. But I have very fond memories of that time, and of seeing all the other wonderful show on at Shedinburgh!

What is your favourite moment in Fanboy?

It's a very fun show to perform, so there's lots of nice ones for me, but I think my favourite is the mini-film right at the start - I love doing impressions!

So, how is the festival going for you so far?

It's been a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed seeing friends who I've not seen for years, meeting new people, seeing shows, and feeling like people are doing what makes them happy again.

As an occasional amateur dramatics actor I am always amazed and impressed at the stamina and memory recall in a one person show. How is your memory for learning lines?

Ah, thank you! I can get a little daunted by learning lines, but once I knuckle down and run them a few times, it starts to come together fairly quickly.

Are you exhausted at the end of a show?

Yes! But also often energised at the same time - it's a lovely feeling, especially after a good run!

"Labels" and " Fanboy" are both solo shows. Have been tempted to work with other people on stage?

I do often miss the shared experience of performing with other people, especially after the show finishes, as it's quite a rush, and really nice to debrief with your fellow performers after a show. The last time I performed properly with a cast was in 2019, so hopefully I'll be able to do so again soon.

Your show is at 12.15pm. Do you have to be regimented to perform at that time?

I think there is a bit of discipline required yes - just getting myself up and ready by 9ish, to leave in time for set up, warm up, running through bits and pieces etc before the show. I've had to make sure I'm not out too late each night!

How do you plan to spend the rest of your day?

It's often a mix of things - seeing friends, watching shows, bits of work, meetings. Or just taking some time for a walk or a rest. This afternoon has been a mix of those!

Having represented DARKCHAT since 2007 we have really missed not coming up the last two years? As a performer how hard has lockdown been for you?

It was tough, like it was for most people I'm sure. I did have more time and space to focus on screenwriting, which is something I'd been trying to move into for a while. And I spent a lot of time doing long walks, listening to audiobooks, and playing video games online with friends and family so we could still hang out.

My first Edinburgh show was back in 1986 with a Midnight Rowan Atkinson show at the Playhouse Theatre. What are your first Edinburgh festival memories?

Wow - that was three years before I was born! My first memories are from 2012 - discovering Piemaker, Hive (til 5!), flyering on the Royal Mile, afternoon naps, and being one of about 12 people into a two bedroom flat!

Do you remember your expectations at your first festival and how they differed from reality?

I think enough people had warned us that it would be a long, strange month and quite tough at times, so in a way everything was kind of a bonus - we had some really lovely responses to our show, How to Start a Riot, which we then got to tour afterwards, and make some great friends and connections, so had a great time in the end.

Have you a particular performer (s) or show (s) that you have enjoyed over the years?

I usually go to Massaoke every year - it's so much fun! And I always love seeing Bryony Kimmings' work. There are venues I love going to - Summerhall, the Paines Plough Roundabout, and the Traverse - seeing what's on at those and picking something I like the sound of.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing at this festival?

My highlights have been James Rowland's Learning to Fly and Jonny and the Baptists.

Finally, what is your one tip for surviving this August madness?

Rest when you need to, sleep as much as you can, have some alcohol free days, get out in the fresh air (ideally out of the hub of Fringe itself - Arthur's Seat, Portabello beach, etc.), make time for yourself, make time for your friends - check in on one another. Don't feel you have to do and see everything - there simply isn't time and you'll burn out trying! Take it steady and enjoy the ride.

Thanks for your time, Joe and hope you are bearing up well.

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