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I TALK TO Jessie Cave

Three years ago I watched Jessie Cave perform I Loved Her at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and it became one of my Fringe highlights that year. It's taken a couple of years but now she's back with a brand new show, Sunrise.


Jessie is best known for playing Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter films but what some people may not know is that she's a great comedian and a great illustrator and her live shows bring those two worlds together beautifully.


Since her last Edinburgh show, a lot has happened in Jessie's life which forms the basis for this year's show. Here's what she had to say about opening up on stage as well as the decision to return to Edinburgh,


You've been away from the Fringe since 2015 and in that time your life has changed a lot, is that why you've decided to come back this year?


The nature of my work is that it's very very very honest and quite raw and what happened was that I was commissioned for a play by the Soho Theatre. I wrote it and then I suddenly had this mini-breakdown where I didn't feel ready to do something so different to what I'm used to doing.


But at the same time, my relationship had just ended and I suddenly had this free time because I said I wasn't going to do the play. So I sat down and wrote something straight from the heart really. Then I had this need to put it on somewhere as a weird sort of therapy.


It's a story about a break-up, motherhood and moving on. I didn't really think I would go to Edinburgh but then suddenly a place became available and the Soho Theatre were really keen to produce it so the next thing I know I'm in the book and doing it!


But now it just feels really natural and I'm so glad it's happened because it's really helped me.


Are you looking forward to returning to Edinburgh?


Yeah I am! I feel like I've developed as a performer in a certain way. I am older but I feel a bit less apologetic about being myself which is a big breakthrough in my personal life and on stage as well. No one wants to see someone say "sorry" a million times.


I mean, I haven't overcome it completely and I'm still heavily apologetic but just in feeling rather than saying.


What else can people expect when they come and watch your show this year?


It's basically what happened next after my last show. That show was all about me bring in a relationship with the father of my child even though that relationship was based on a one night stand and we were still getting to know each other.


My insecurities about other women were breaking us up in a way and this show is about the inevitable break up and the consequences of that whilst dealing with having another child. But it's a hopeful story about a relationship that is really unique in its situation but also hopefully relatable.


It's a messy thing. Break ups are messy. We love each other. We completely love each other still and we have two children together and we'll be committed to them for the rest of our lives. And we still fancy each other and have these weird feelings. It's bizarre and I think it's a nice thing to talk about because people just assume break ups are simpler than they usually are.


People don't understand what's going on with me and Alfie because we have two children together that we should be together or hate each other - but no, we just decided that this is what we need to do and it's talking about that.


We were scared because we were thrown together on the basis of the relationship being founded on a one night stand. We're still in the aftermath of that process and learning about each other. It's fucking messy but that's the nature of most break ups which isn't really talked about.


Any more arts and crafts in your show this year?


Yes, I'm being a bit more adventurous with puppets this year, even though I don't like telling people that I'm using puppets. Because I think when you say "One woman show" and "puppets" in the same sentence, people just recoil in horror!


I have two recurring puppets and my mum has always done everything for my shows in terms of any of the props I had. She's a seamstress so she makes the backdrops and my puppets are actually embroidered pillows... and there's a reason for that in the show.


Everything's very DIY again and very homemade and a snapshot of my life at where it's at right now but I hope people can actually relate to it and it's not just my story.


How long have you been working on this year's show for?


It's been now since January and I only decided I was going to go to Edinburgh in February. It's happened quite quickly but I write scripts and then I edit the scripts so it's evolved a lot in the last six months. But now I'm at the point when I'm ready to go really.


I mean I've still got a lot of learning to do, I don't know my lines yet but the script is really solid and I'm happy with it.


How have the previews been going?


They've been going really well. I'm still reading it like an actress reading a script for the first time and then I forget that I've written it. So I'm still learning things that I've written. It happens so from my gut that it feels like a different time now and I wrote it in a period of being quite distraught. But in a fun way!


But it's great because I now I feel really strong and ready to tell that story. Where as if I had done it a year ago, because we've been broken up now for about 18 months, the show would have just been a wreck. But now I feel really ready to share it and learn from what's happened.


You mentioned it earlier, but has writing and performing this show been a sort of therapy for you?


Yeah, I quite often get called "Crazy ex-girlfriend" from the way I behave and I get furious when people say that about all the things I've done because it puts it down to something really broad when it's actually so much more nuanced than being a crazy ex-girlfriend.


But, in those crazy ex-girlfriend things, you do get a lot of funny. I am highly highly self-aware, to a fault. So even though at the time I didn't think it was funny, I did have the self-awareness to think "OK, I might find this funny later so I better write it down" and I did thankfully keep a break up book. It's been really helpful for now so I'm very happy about my fastidious note taking.


What are you most looking forward to about returning to Edinburgh?


It sounds really pretentious, but I'm just really looking forward to learning. I love doing shows because you learn something every day and hopefully get better or you have an audience that shapes the show. Your mood changes all the time and you find out so much about your own performance technique.


I enjoy editing the script all day and it being a changeable being. I'm just trying this year to be as organised as possible on the first day so that I only grow from day one.


In November I'm performing the show at the Soho Theatre for three weeks which is going to be quite a big show, it's in the big theatre space and I've got full lighting and set design. In Edinburgh I'm performing in The Stand which is 40 people and I barely have a stage so it's kind of a really raw version of what it will be. I'm committed to this now for a long time so I'm really excited.


Who's shows are you looking forward to seeing this year?


I'm looking forward to seeing Alfie's show, Alfie Brown, because I don't know anything about it and I know that he's sharing about certain things in our relationship too. So I'm going to go and take my notebook!


I haven't seen my friend Rose Matafeo's show, even though she's done it now for months but she's just one of the nicest people so I really want to see her show. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of women.


Outside of the Fringe what are you working on? Any more books of your doodles?


The industry has changed so much since I published that book in 2015. What happened after that was that I got a greetings cards and a stationary deal which went really well and actually did better than the book.


A book wouldn't feel right for me anymore because what happened was that I started putting my doodles all on a website and started a little online shop and sell hand-drawn versions of the doodles on my Instagram and personalise them for people.


At the moment I'm focussing more on this show and writing but they all link together naturally and I feel like my shows are an extension of my drawings. I'm kind of an open book like that.


What about the acting?


Well that's becoming less and less because I just don't get cast in anything. Which is fine. I get flat down rejected almost all the time so I'm kind of at peace with not because I've got enough jobs going on.


But actually I have been in development with Channel 4 for years now and I've got a script with them which is finally hopefully going to come off the ground. I think the only way I can really do that is make my own work and I'm at peace with that really.


Do you think you'll ever lose the "from Harry Potter" tag?


It's amazing how it's a continuously refreshing pool of people who know about Harry Potter. My son is three and he goes to a nursery that's attached to a school and now all the people at school are just getting into Harry Potter and recognising me.


I did forget about it for a bit, but now I'm around children more it's going to be a big deal! And I also talk about it myself all the time. I do drawings about it. It's in my show again this year. I'm not shy about mentioning it and I only have good things to say about it. So I'm not bothered about it, but I think that will always be the number one people say when they hear my name.


Finally, how would you sum up your show in just five words?


Sexually charged, hopeful and raw.

Jessie Cave: Sunrise runs from 1st - 26th August (not 13th) at 2:25pm at The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4 (Stand 4). Book tickets here.

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