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Charlie Heptinstall


27 - 30 Jul 2021 | 18:30 & 20:40

Pleasance London


In a profound and thrilling mix of music and storytelling, head/lining is a lyrical deep dive inside the mind of an ordinary white boy as he comes to terms with his noxious upbringing and orbits mental breakdown.


Hi Charlie, it's great to have the chance to talk with you, how have you been keeping, during these strange Covid times?


I must admit, I have had my ups and downs like everyone, starting the pandemic homeless and then moving from place to place and finally settling down in august. So it hasn't been an easy one but I am grateful my health is all good and that the world seems like it is all going in the right direction.


Since the start of lockdowns what has been the most surprising thing you've discovered about yourself and have you taken on any new hobbies or interests?


The surprising thing for me is that I kept my motivation and made sure I did something every day. I love languages so Duolingo was a great hobby of mine. Although I am not that good, I still love it. 


What have you missed most about performing in front of live audiences?


The atmosphere that it brings, I love it! To entertain is something special and to know that I can do that again is a great feeling. 


What does it mean to you to be returning to The Pleasance with head/lining?


Honestly, this means the world. For my debut play that I wrote and will perform with the best mate helping me out as a musician, is a great feeling. I am glad to show a piece of work that is a passion project for me. And that I hope it will connect with a few people and maybe make a change because of the themes it covers.


Your first run was a sell-out, what was it about head/lining that connected with audiences so much?


Personally, I think it was the raw truth of it all, being a play that is based on a true story, my experiences, it was all from the heart. I tried to cover a lot from addiction, white working-class stereotypes, abuse and so much more and to highlight the problems in these subjects which I don't think has been said from a young white cis man before. Also, the mixed forms of theatre work well I think. From a spoken word, music to a man multi rolling in scenes from comedy to tragedy at a flick of a switch.

Do you think there is still a gap in opportunities being offered to working-class themes and stories being told by working-class theatre-makers?


Yeah, I do think there is a gap. I just think there are still loads of stories to tell and I hope in my career I can fill that gap with the ones I believe should be told too.


Tell me a little bit about how head/lining came about, what was the inspiration behind your play?


I think being a creative person I needed to express myself about all that I have overcome already in my life. I wasn't satisfied with just overcoming them. I needed to let it out in a burst of creative juice. So as I sat down on my laptop I was looking at my writing pile and saw some old poems from when I was eleven and that's when the light bulb moment happened for this little project. 


"If they can just take away that any human, in any bad situation, at any moment, does and will always have the willpower to change everything."

Did you have any apprehensions about writing a play that touches on salient and personal subjects such as mental health, alcoholism and homelessness?


I did but in the way of; do I say my story? Do I make it known that this is me? and is this my story? I had the confidence that if I did it would be the truth because I have been through all of it and knew what it meant to go through it but with all things, you still have to make sure you are doing it right and showing it in a way that you want it to be shown. 


Has it been hard to act in a piece you've written?


The short answer is yes! But I had some amazing help from my director Matt Strachan, who set from the get-go that the minute the writing was done, we just focused on the acting as if someone else had written it. So strict rules but needed to do the job.


Where was your passion for theatre from?


It came when I was 16 years old and jumped into my first ever show at the end of time at secondary school. I got the buzz for it. I think from then on I wanted to know how I could do this for the rest of my life and every day since that's all I have been doing.


How important is it for you to push the boundaries of the theatre you create?


I think it is really important to do it; one to push yourself as a performer and making sure you are always challenging yourself and two it is always good in my opinion to push out of the “norm” boundaries in theatre. That’s what’s it’s there for, to engage in what the world is today and that means evolving, that doesn't mean staying in boundaries all the time. 


Has there been any advice you've been given that has really stuck with you?


There have been lots but the constant advice that I get from my nan and pops always stays with me. To be myself and to live life happily. That will always come above any acting or writing tips because they mean a lot to me and that has always helped me through everything really. 


And finally, what do you want your audiences to take away from head/lining?


If they can just take away that any human, in any bad situation, at any moment, does and will always have the willpower to change everything. And I am not trying to be all “movie” like here or trying to change the world but you really can and laughter always helps that too. 

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