Jonathan Blakeley talks about bringing his enchanting little play IN PURSUIT OF ANDROMEDA to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Jonathan Blakeley
Name of Edinburgh show: In Pursuit of Andromeda
Venue: Greenside Venues – Lime Studio
Performance time: 8:45pm
Show length: 1 hour
Ticket price: Mon – Wed (£9 full / £7 concession)
Thu – Sat (£10 full / £8 concession)

Can you tell me a little about yourself and your performing background?
Originally from Southend-on-Sea, Essex. Predominately an actor who trained in New York City at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I recently finished work understudying on the West End in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. In Pursuit of Andromeda will be my first written piece and I’m pretty excited about it!

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
When a fisherman, haunted by war, rescues a mysterious girl floating on the morning water, singing in a language unknown to him, an unbreakable bond forms between them. However a sense of unease slowly emerges when local people start to go missing…
Set of the Isles of Scilly, shortly after WWI, In Pursuit of Andromeda tells the story of how we heal one another and also, ultimately, how we are capable of destroying one another as well.

It’s a pretty global piece of theatre with myself being from London, the other performer, Adriana Llabrés, coming over from Mexico City and our director, Lisa Milinazzo, flying over from New York City.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I have been working on this play since around April 2017 when I started doing research into soldiers during WWI suffering from PTSD, or Shell-Shock as it was coined at the time, where I met with chief historians at Imperial War Museum in London. Further research led me to meeting with male mental health charities, specialists in PTSD and even a society of Cornish language speakers. The writing process began last summer when I visited NYC and showed the first scene to our director Lisa.

A few factors make it relevant to audiences in 2018. Mainly with the issue around the stigma of male mental health and the rising awareness and improved attitudes towards such cause. Another is that this is the 100 year anniversary of the armistice of WWI and just to add a little more flavour, the girl who is rescued by the fisherman is ‘mystical’ to say the least, but I won’t give too much away…

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and for visitors?
A comfy pair shoes, an organised day plan, sleep, sparse daily amounts of Innis & Gunn and as many of the alphabetised vitamins as possible.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has happened to you on stage?
Nothing gets more confusing or awkward when touring Pride & Prejudice around Italy and a stage window decides to roll towards the audience, prompting an earlier than usual entrance from Mr Bingley, saving Mr Darcy’s life and then still treating him, his potential love and her family like inferior beings…

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
Gary Oldman. A, because I find him fascinating to watch as an actor and B, like him we both got told by RADA that we weren’t good enough to go there/be actors.
Robin Williams. Because he made me forget anything and everything else whilst he was on the screen in front of me and with that made me want to become a performer.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A cup of tea, Nintendo 3DS or some other form of portable gaming device, humming like a humming bird and just relaxing and being as smiley as possible.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I’m looking forward to seeing my fellow Theatre503 EdFringe Preview shows, along with those also on at Greenside Venues, as well as checking out the Blue Peter Reunion show that the producers of The Mousetrap are putting on. They helped me out massively with advise on all things EdFringe from a producing point of view and I may need to lug a sofa up there for them in the back of our van!

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
This is an enchanting little play, littered with beautiful songs and music composed by the wonderful Harry Sever, where after many years of humanity tearing itself apart, the real world and the fantasy world meet one another to try and put just a little piece of it back together again.


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