An Interview with Edward Rapley, The Self Trilogy

Edward Rapley is a Bristol-based performer who has trained in Paris with Phillippe Gaulier (the French Master clown), is a member of local artist collective Residence and has toured to audiences all over the UK. This September he opens our Autumn season in the studio with The Self Trilogy: 10 Ways to Die on Stage, The Middle Bit, and Who Know Where. His work defies expectation and offers his audiences a new fresh take on the big (death) and the small (atoms). Intrigued, we interviewed him via long-distance-electronic-internet-based-communication (email) to find out what it’s like to perform your own life on stage by yourself. 

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Tell us about the trilogy.
The trilogy is this sprawling piece of work which I’ve been making for the last seven years. Very simply it is three solo shows I have been inspired to make by events or times in my own life as a way to communicate with other people, to share what are perhaps common mistakes and joys.

Describe them in three words (three words for all of them!)
Ridiculous, touching, hopeful.

What’s it like performing autobiographical work?
It makes me laugh at myself which I like. When you use your life as the source for a performance it’s important that you do it for the audience and not yourself. That avoids a lot of potential problems. That’s why it’s great working with Holly Stoppit on the shows, she’s got a great eye for the audience and the ability to get me to where I need to be.

Is much of your work a solo performance? What’s it like always performing by yourself?
Almost all my own work is as a solo performer: on stage, with installations, or one to one games. It is both terrifying and exhilarating. Before the performance I get so nervous, even now with a month until the shows I’m scared. Then when I step on stage everything falls into place and it’s just so much fun. I also work as an actor for other companies and it is great to have other people to play with on stage and to share the experience with.

What is your favourite moment in the trilogy?
It’s the bit between stepping on stage and the bow. Cop out! I really like the balloon bit in 10 Ways, the start of The Middle Bit and the path of all my atoms in Who Knows Where. As a solo performer I get to make the show out of all my favourite moments, that’s one of the perks.

What is the most challenging moment in the trilogy?
For me that’s now, the bit before I start. For the audience perhaps it’s the chair sequence in second show. Those who have seen it will understand.

Describe your ideal audience member.
Anyone who enjoys taking a risk in good company.

What’s next for you?
Directly next will be The Self Trilogy at MAC in Birmingham on the 28th of September. Then I’m working on a new (solo) show and hopefully a tour of the trilogy.

 The Self Trilogy is on in Bristol Old Vic Studio 11-14 Sep. You can watch the trilogy on Sat 14 Sep from 6pm. Find out more here.