Charlotte Josephine is angry. BLUSH, the writer and performer’s new show with her company Snuff Box Theatre, comes from a place of rage. “The recent legislation passed to make revenge pornography a criminal act ignited a proper belly-deep rage in me,” she explains. “Rage at the men who commit revenge porn. Rage at the term ‘revenge porn’, which in itself is hugely problematic, suggesting the victims have done something that deserves revenge. Rage at a legal system that is murderously slow at changing laws that might protect women. Rage at our pathetic excuse for sex education in school whilst ‘rape-porn’ becomes mainstream on our children’s phones.”
Josephine also felt rage at “the embarrassment I feel at being ‘an angry woman’”, but it’s a rage that she’s been able to harness in her work. BLUSH explores the complexities of so-called 'revenge porn', asking “a whole load of difficult questions that no one seems to know the answers for”. Josephine tells me that the play is about “misogyny, and shame, and violence”, as well as “empathy, and forgiveness, and kindness”.
Like Bitch Boxer, Josephine’s compelling breakthrough hit on the Fringe four years ago, BLUSH tackles gender-related expectations, but in a very different way. “Bitch Boxer was born from a personal desire to explore my understanding of what being a woman means,” says Josephine. It was a response to a comment that Josephine “didn’t look very ladylike”, prompting her to consider what women are and aren’t allowed to be according to social stereotypes.
BLUSH, meanwhile, is about the consequences of such expectations. “The catalyst for BLUSH is revenge porn, but really it’s about shame,” Josephine explains. “BLUSH explores the shame we feel at not matching up to gender-related expectations spilling out sideways into acts of violence. Shame is a killer.”
As with Bitch Boxer, Josephine will once again be performing her own words in BLUSH. “I’m not very precious about my writing once we get into rehearsals,” she says, adding that she loves the process of both writing and performing her own work. “I like to just be an actress when I’m in the room, so that I can enjoy the collaboration with the team, making some words I wrote into a show.
“I love theatre when it feels really live, happening right here in this room right now,” she goes on. There are few better places for that up-close, thrilling liveness than the cramped studios and vaults of the Edinburgh Fringe. “I hope the audience walk out with that buzzy feeling you have when you’ve just been to a gig,” Josephine adds. “I hope it sparks some new thoughts, some new conversations.”