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Actor and writer Kirsty Osmon: ‘For women it’s still the ‘walk of shame’, but for men it’s the stride of pride’

Kirsty Osmon. Photo: Bec Rodger Kirsty Osmon. Photo: Bec Rodger

Kirsty Osmon is making her Edinburgh Fringe debut with Awakening, a show exploring drink-spiking and the vulnerability of being a woman on a night out. She tells Giverny Masso about the challenges of creating her first solo show…

How did your Edinburgh show come about?
It’s been a long process – I started working on it a couple of years ago. It’s inspired by a time of my life when I was going out a lot with mates and everyone was getting their drinks spiked. It became normalised, but nobody seemed that bothered about it. I started to think: ‘When did that become okay?’ It happened to a friend of mine, and she had no memory of the night before. Thankfully, she was with me, so she was okay. For women there’s still this idea of the ‘walk of shame’, but for men it’s the stride of pride. I decided to take this one step further: a character wakes up somewhere unusual, in a front garden. I have made her an anti-heroine, as she’s done dubious things in the past. It raises questions about how we judge people on their past behaviour.

What challenges have you faced working on a one-woman show?
I’ve never done a one-woman show before. It’s definitely challenging. The character wakes up still drugged and meets other characters along the way, so I’m playing multiple roles. While writing, it’s been difficult to get the right balance between humour and heartbreak. I’ve done two previews, but I played them very differently. In the first one, I went in quite vulnerable as a performer and the audience was affected by that. In the other, I played it all for laughs, so the assault didn’t land well. It’s about getting the balance. It’s important to state that there are obviously trigger warnings in the show, and there are scenes with bad language and of a sexual nature. If anyone is concerned they can get in contact to discuss this.

How did you get into theatre?
I found theatre quite late on. I was quite a naughty kid and not good academically, so I needed another subject at school that didn’t have a lot of exams. Then I went to do drama at Arts Ed, and had a brilliant time. I had to take some time out for personal reasons, which is when I started writing. My first job was in Neil Simon’s I Ought to Be in Pictures, for which I won the Manchester Evening News award for best newcomer.

Are you working on anything else right now?
As part of the Soho Theatre Young Writers’ Lab, I’m writing a play called Rent Boy with a lead character who is 62 years old. I really don’t think that there are enough roles for older women. I’ve also written another play – a social comedy called The System. It centres around four characters who are all fighting a different social system. I’d love to get that on the stage too.

Awakening runs at Underbelly Bristo Square, Edinburgh, from August 1 to 27

CV: Kirsty Osmon

Training: Arts Educational Schools London, BA in acting (2007-10); Soho Young Writers’ Lab (2018)
First professional role: I Ought to Be in Pictures, Home, Manchester (2010)
Agent: Victoria Lepper Associates

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