Reviews Theater

Teen poetry morphs into a one-woman show at Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe

EDINBURGH – In a dark theater space just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, 20-year-old Charlotte Ellis takes to the stage to bare her soul to an audience in her heartfelt autobiographical show, A Young Girl’s Guide to Madness.

Charlotte Ellis with posters for her show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Ellis)

This solo show, produced by Bloomin’ Buds, follows a young woman on her journey to adulthood – including all aspects of teenage life. After the performance Ellis told Youth Journalism International about her experience creating this show and the themes behind it.

The birth of her show came last summer, when tidying her room and uncovering a book of old poetry.

“I used to write poetry all the time to deal with things and there was this one particular poem, which is in the show, ‘18, Single and Okay.’ I’d written it when I was 16, so I changed it a bit, and that poem literally was how the play was born.”

Ellis’ emotional intelligence shines through her writing, using poetry to frame the narrative of her performance without it feeling forced.

Using stories from her own life and girls in her hometown of Leeds, UK, the audience is catapulted back into the depths of their own teenage years, reflecting on the challenges and injustices that young women face every day.

Charlotte Ellis on stage. (Photo courtesy of Charlotte Ellis)

Ellis explained how she never felt that she met the ‘criteria’ she needed to as a girl, making her feel worthless about her teenage self. The honesty Ellis displays in her writing is admirable, and she thoughtfully navigates the highs and lows of the teen experience in such a short space.

“My show is like therapy for me,” said Ellis, explaining that it addresses challenges she’s worked through in life. She said she tried to present them in a way that audience members who had experienced similar things wouldn’t feel alone and wouldn’t find her message “preachy.”

In the future, Ellis said she would like to expand the show to include two more cast members.

“It would be three girls from different cultures and backgrounds, because I’m aware that some things in the show not all girls may go through,” Ellis said.

Ellis also shared her hopes to expand more on the theme of failure within her writing, as well as the difficulty women find in being taken seriously for showing their emotions.

“Not thinking that girls are being dramatic all the time, and crazy. No, we’re just feeling everything, but we’re told that we can’t express it so then it gets internalized and then you kind of pick away at the things that you can control.”

What does Ellis want people to know about her show?

“I want people to know it’s not just for girls! It’s literally for everybody. You may not be able to relate to some bits but I’m sure you have a female in your life who would benefit from you knowing this information and what we go through. I want people also to know that’s its actually quite funny!’

I certainly hope that Ellis gets an opportunity to develop this production further. I’m sure there are many exciting things ahead for this talented young performer.

Rosie Evans is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

More YJI coverage from the 2022 Edinburgh Festival Fringe:

A play that comes from on-the-job experience

‘Mischief’ managed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

A theater friend’s dying wish was for a show. His troupe gave him ‘Good Grief.’


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