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A Day In The Life Of: Charlotte Josephine - Bitch Boxer

12 June 2014 | Natasha Sutton-Williams

"There’s a moment when you think to yourself, ‘Why am I about to do this?’ It’s like undergoing open-heart surgery without any anaesthetic."

Londoncalling.com sat down with Charlotte Josephine – writer and performer of the award winning one-woman show ‘Bitch Boxer’. She’s acted on stage with Harriet Walter, been directed by Phyllida Lloyd and Sean Holmes, and has been published by Oberon Modern Plays. Oh, and she’s only twenty-four years old. 

London Calling: What do you love about the medium of theatre?

Charlotte Josephine: I’m interested in direct address with an audience. I want it to be live, happening in this room right now.  I don’t understand plays that don’t do that. When I go see them I think, “Why are you not looking at me? We’re in the same room! Why aren’t you talking to me? Why are you pretending I’m not here? Why are you doing that glassy eyed swoop of ‘I’m going to look but not look’ thing? Why not just dare yourself? It’s scary as fuck but dare yourself to look.” After a while you get used to it and actually need that direct eye contact from an audience. Then you don’t feel alone up there, particularly if you’re doing a solo show. You’re looking at the audience and they’re feeding off what’s happening on stage. Then it feels like we’re all doing this show together, rather than I’m doing it at you. I’m doing it with you. We’re doing it.

LC: What’s your writing process?

CJ: Writing and not thinking about it. Just letting it all come out naturally, then tidying it up later. For my latest piece I’ve got lots of bits: an image, a poem, a fight sequence, a dance. They’re all floating around like jigsaw pieces. I’m trying to let them all land together in a sequence that resembles a piece of theatre. From an actor-writer’s point of view I always think, ‘would I want to watch this on stage? Would I want to say this on stage?’

LC: You’ve had a long-standing relationship with Soho Theatre. How are you involved in their Soho Six Writers’ Programme?

CJ: This all started three years ago through my involvement in the Young Writers’ Lab at Soho. I wrote Bitch Boxer through that scheme and won their Young Writers’ Award 2012. This year I got asked if I’d like to be part of Soho Six and I laughed because it sounded like being a member of the Power Rangers. I wanted to be the red one. They said, ‘write whatever you want to write.’ My piece is about love and adrenaline, wanting something that isn’t good for you, trying to maintain a perfect moment, and doing anything possible to stop time.

LC: What’s the best thing about being a published playwright?

CJ: I get a lot of messages from people saying ‘I’m doing Bitch Boxer for my drama school audition’ which is amazing because I used to have to make up my audition speeches and lie and say someone else had written them because I couldn’t find a good contemporary speech. Now girls are using it up and down the country. I’m more proud of that than three stars from Lyn Gardner.

LC: How has the transition been from personally performing Bitch Boxer to handing it over to Holly Augustine?

CJ: We auditioned for the latest production and as soon as she walked in the room I knew, ‘It’s her’. She’s a natural clown; she allows herself to be vulnerable and sit in the character. She has the right balance of being tender, sweet, tough and feisty which is important for the role. It’s something that I’m interested in: how we give openly to people and how we shut ourselves off. I taught Holly the choreography but I wasn’t in rehearsals at all. Holly has deliberately never seen me perform Bitch Boxer. It was odd watching Holly do it for the first time, like an out of body experience, almost like watching a memory. I was proud of the show in a way I hadn’t been when I was performing it. I needed that distance in order to see it for what it really is. 

LC: How does it feel to perform Bitch Boxer yourself after seeing someone else do it?

CJ: It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done. There’s no chance of getting lazy with it. Performing Bitch Boxer feels very similar to fighting. There’s a moment when you think to yourself, ‘Why am I about to do this?’ It’s like undergoing open-heart surgery without any anaesthetic. I’m going out on a limb, baring myself and saying, ‘here I am’. I never see actors really push themselves hard. They’re always a bit safe. It’s like GO! If you’re running, run! I want see them go there. I want them to work really hard, especially if it’s going to cost me £30 to get in. 

Charlotte is boxing at Alexandra Palace the weekend of 20th-22nd June. For more information and to book tickets please click here.

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