Charlotte Anne-Tilley is an award-winning actor and writer from Cheshire. Her tragicomic play Almost Adult received critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe last year and her short film Birthday has played at a variety of festivals around Europe. She returns to the Fringe with Serious Theatre from Serious People in collaboration with Mabel Thomas. She is also appearing in Oh Calm Down, a play about dealing with OCD. We spoke to Charlotte about the two plays, collaborating on a production, and following up a successful show.

Can you tell us about Serious Theatre from Serious People?

Written by me and story produced by Mabel Thomas, Serious Theatre from Serious People (SPFSP) is a mockumentary-style character comedy about members of Bet On It Youth Theatre. Despite their best efforts to put on a professional production, these dysfunctional characters get into all sorts of chaos as ulterior motives and egos take over. There’s water gun, there’s high school musical tunes, and even some special guests.

For those unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe your approach to writing and performance?

I love blending wit with emotional depth and my work almost always features autobiographical elements. Even with STFSP, a ‘pure’ comedy, the characters are grounded in reality with histories and real emotions. You can also expect audience interaction and moments of physical comedy from all of my shows.

How has it been co-creating and performing the show with Mabel Thomas?

It’s been a brilliant way to deal with writer’s block. I will write a scene and then send it to Mabel, who will make edits and suggestions to make it funnier. I’d definitely recommend this collaborative approach.

You’ve also collaborated with the likes of Liv Ello on the show. What have they brought to the production?

Liv Ello is offering directorial support on the production. We are going to rehearsals with them in July, and we’re so excited to get their expertise and direction on the show.

You’re also performing another of your plays this year, Oh, Calm Down. Can you tell us about that?

Oh, Calm Down is a dual-narrative piece that’s going to be at Summerhall this August. It explores the debilitating nature of undiagnosed OCD and how it affects two women, Claire and Lucy,  at different stages in their lives. I’m working with an incredible team on the show including director Ed White (Lipstick, Southwark Playhouse), actor Maddy Banks (The Band, West End) and Tom Bevan (Destiny, Pleasance).

Who are your heroes, the people who inspired you to get into theatre and performing in general?

I love creatives who work across genres. For example, I’m a massive fan of Nick Offerman, Emma Stone, Chris Pratt, Imelda Staunton and Hugh Laurie. Their ability to seamlessly navigate between comedy and drama is very inspiring to me. I’m drawn to the challenge of adapting to different tones and genres in performance, and these actors motivate me to  strive towards that level of versatility in my own craft.

You’ve performed at the Fringe in various productions over the last few years. What for you are the best and worst things about the Fringe?

The best thing about Fringe is the chance to hone a show and really be experimental with what works and what doesn’t. The worst thing is the undiluted exhaustion you feel throughout the festival.

You had a lot of success with previous Almost Adult. How much pressure do you put on yourself when following up an acclaimed production?

Well, thank you so much for saying that. Luckily, the shows I’m making this year are so different from Almost Adult,  it will be hard to compare them (also, nothing can compete with the pressure of doing a solo show!) I’m also excited to push myself as a storyteller with these new shows and work with multiple protagonists rather than just one.

Are there any other acts or shows at the Fringe that you would recommend audiences see?

I recently saw that Every Brilliant Thing by Duncan Macmillan is returning to Summerhall for its 10-year anniversary, and I’m really looking forward to  seeing that. I read that play when I was about 18 and absolutely loved it, so it’s definitely something I will make sure to catch.

I’m also hoping to see the following shows…

Son of a Bitch by Anna Morris

My Last Two Brain Cells by Joe Pike and Tom Hazelden

Chicken by Sunday’s Child

Forked by Jo Tan

HYPER by Jaxbanded Theatre

Crying Shame by Sweet Beef

plewds by Kathrine Payne

Knives and Forks by Band of Sisters Theatre

We Forgive You, Patina Pataznik by Jake and Liv

Serious Theatre from Serious People is at Gilded Balloon Patter House – The Penny from Wed 31 Jul to Mon 26 Aug 2024 (except Mon 12 & Mon 19)

Oh, Calm Down is at Summerhall – Cairns Lecture Theatre from Thu 1 Aug to Mon 26 Aug 2024 (except Mon 12 & Mon 19)