Bethany Heath quit her full-time job in entertainment PR in 2015 to pursue a career in acting. She tells Giverny Masso about writing her debut solo show and taking it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe…
What is your debut solo show Definitely Louise about?
It is about being a young person today and the pressure you are under to try to be someone special. It’s not me in the show, but some of the stories are real. It’s a very ranty, precocious woman chatting about all the things that annoy her. She touches on various topics, including mental health and ghosting. One review said I was the classic unreliable narrator. The character is an actor, so you never know what she’s making up or what she believes. We all wear a mask, and, if you’re an actor, that is even more true.
How did you get into theatre?
I did it at school and, as a child, I did a lot of panto and dance, including ballet, tap, modern and jazz. When I was doing GCSEs and A levels, I did drama studies. I had a camcorder and my brothers and I spent every evening and weekend doing spoofs of things such as Jackass and detective shows or comedies. I loved making films. I’m from Somerset and I never went to drama school, although I did go to Identity School of Acting. I had to start from the ground up, not knowing what I was doing.
How has working in PR helped you as a performer?
I do a lot of comedy and theatre PR and I’ve been up to the fringe for the past seven years. The real benefit has been to gain a true understanding of the industry. I only quit my job and switched to being a freelance PR in 2015. I was watching all these shows and thinking: “I want to do that so much.” I went into it with my eyes wide open. I know the realities of it, I know you can be great but sometimes it just doesn’t click. I’ve always been ready for that.
What was your first acting role?
A lot of the jobs I’ve done have been massive learning curves. The first professional job I did was a tour of The Fisherman’s Daughter around schools and theatres – I was playing a 10-year-old. It’s never going to be the same each time when you’re working with children – at one point I was singing and a child got up and started singing her own song in my face. After that, I did The Polar Express live on a train.
What has been the biggest challenge for you to break into the industry?
Being in that position where no one will give you anything, because you don’t have anything [on your CV]. You can’t get your Spotlight profile if you don’t have the jobs. You have to accept who you are – I’m quite small and I have brown hair, I’m not going to be the hot blonde girl. You have to ask: “What am I that other people aren’t?” In my first job they needed someone who could speak in a South West accent, who looked like a child, but wasn’t, and could play the guitar. That was me.
Training: Identity Acting School (2019 to present); BA in Cinematography at Goldsmiths University, London (2006-09)
First professional role: Tour of The Fisherman’s Daughter with AsOne Theatre Company (2016)
Definitely Louise is running at Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh from July 31 to August 25. More information is available at: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/definitely-louise