Juliette Burton talks about bringing the BUTTERFLY EFFECT to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Juliette Burton
Name of Edinburgh show: Juliette Burton: Butterfly Effect
Venue: Gilded Balloon
Performance time: 4.15pm
Show length: 1 hour
Ticket price: Previews £6, Weekday £9/£8, Weekends £10/£9

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I wanted to be on stage since I was 8 years old. And I loved making people laugh. But in my teens I got very ill – actually I’d been showing signs of mental illness from about the age of 7 or 8.

I don’t mean that wanting to be on stage is a mental illness, although my family might say otherwise. I’d exhibited signs of OCD, depression and issues with food from early childhood. But in my teens it became anorexia.

I was in and out of hospital multiple times and was sectioned under the mental health act when I was 17 for being a month away from dying of anorexia. Spoiler alert! I’m still here! I spent my 18th birthday in hospital. Don’t worry I’ve been making up for it by partying hard ever since.

So that kind of ruined my education, but I studied journalism – turns out you don’t need A levels to do that! And I worked for magazines like InStyle and NME and in radio for the BBC. But when the recession hit, journalism work was hard to find. So I focused back on my childhood dream of being on stage.

I began acting on stage and in film, then as a voiceover artist – which I still do. I trained at The Actors Centre in London. I even performed in plays at Edinburgh Fringe in 2006, 2008 and 2009. But I got frustrated because all the parts I was getting offered were “love interest” or “sex interest” all of which were “dull female character with no backstory”. So I started writing.

I found writing led me to comedy which led me to performing my first ever Edinburgh Fringe show as part of a double act back in 2011. Then my first solo show in 2013. I sold out my run in 2015, 2016 and 2017 with docucomedy shows involving some factual stuff, some journalistic camera stuff, hilarity about mental health conditions, ….which brings us to today and here we am I now, talking to you!

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
So it’s an award-winning (yep, won awards last year) comedy about kindness. Can kindness change the world? And would you #DareToBeKind? Sold out the entire run last year in Edinburgh with extra shows added. It’s about to go on my first national tour in the autumn.

Last year I felt powerless over a lot of stuff so I focused on the power I had which was how I treat other people. So I did random acts of kindness every day to see if it could change the world a bit.

It uses multimedia projection, hidden camera filming, animation and covers mental health in a positive, uplifting way. It’s also raising money for the mental health charity Mind.

I love performing it. I’d love to sell out again. Come join me so my parents might actually take this career seriously.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I wrote this show at the start of 2017, I honed it in the run up to Edinburgh Fringe 2017 where it sold out the entire run and had extra shows added. Edinburgh marks the start of a nationwide tour in Autumn this year – funded by Arts Council England.

I think everyone is longing for a big dose of kindness in the world right now. A lot of people seem to be feeling a bit powerless, not just me. So this show is a way to help people get their power back – without it being a satirical comedy!

I also talk in the show about my mental health experiences and how kindness has helped me in so many ways with that. In my experience, people love laughing at mental illness. Meaning, we need to laugh about it. Laughter breaks down barriers and increases understanding. Comedy has the power to help make the real and painful experience of mental illness accessible to those who’ve never experienced it, and helps those who have feel less alone.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
I moved to Edinburgh for 4 years because I fell in love with it due to the Fringe. So for everyone – Frisky Frozen Yoghurt on Forrest Road. I’m there almost every day.

For visitors – see some of Edinburgh City itself. It’s the most amazing place.

Plan a few shows and book in advance, like now, before you finish reading this, and then chat to people in the queues for those shows about what they’d recommend seeing.

Pack your day with shows but take time to rest between so you can be fully present and really give your all as audience members. You are the other character in any performance – if you’re laughing, I feel amazing. You have the power to do that!

Oh and if you see my show, stick around for a drink in the bar afterwards.

Performers – pace yourself. The only way I survive is putting my show first, my audiences are the most important thing every day – without them it’s just me alone in a dark room and nobody wants that! Least of all my therapist.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
At a show in Australia a teenage boy asked for my phone number. I thought it was hilarious. His parents did not.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
This is a constantly evolving answer. I would mention loads of names like Daniel Kitson, Tape Face, Abandoman and then loads of my peers such as Elf Lyons, Anna Morris, Bec Hill but right now I’m deeply into Tina Landau – she’s the creator of Spongebob Squarepants the musical. It’s only currently on in New York and I’ve seen it every time I’ve been over there since it opened. The world she’s created is amazing and I highly recommend her Ted talk on YouTube about how we are everything all at once.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Well 30 minutes before the show I do my hair and make up – when the going gets tough, the tough get sparkly – and I grab a coffee. But once the pre-show music is playing and doors open, I’m always I always chat to my audiences as they come into the room. I prefer doing that than standing backstage. These are my people – a whole bunch of potential new friends. Why would I want to hide from them?

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Lost Voice Guy, Abandoman, Felicity Ward, Tape Face, Colin Cloud, Abigoliah Schamaun, Elf Lyons, Grant Busé, Andrea Hubert… There’s heaps! It’s the happiest place on earth!

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the fringe?
The Edinburgh Fringe is the most amazing place in the world. So see as many shows as you can. If you see mine you’ll get comedy, honesty, you’ll be laughing about things you didn’t realise you could, I’ve sold out every day of my run for the last 3 years in a row. And I have OCD – I’ve got to do that again for a 4th year in a row! Plus I always have a drink in the bar with the audience after the show too so stick around for that. And in the spirit of a show about kindness – if you buy me a drink, that’d be very kind.

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