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Joe Sellman-Leava - It’s the Economy, Stupid! - Edinburgh Fringe Interview

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe 2024 coverage, we are running a series of interviews with artists and creatives that are taking part in the festival. 

In this interview, we speak to Joe Sellman-Leava about their show It's The Economy, Stupid!

Where did your arts career begin?
I studied drama at Exeter, and stayed there for a few years, making lots of different theatre shows, building up to a point where some of them could tour, which is how Worklight Theatre was formed. It’s grown from there – making more theatre, and also working as an actor and screenwriter outside of my own work.

What can you tell me about your show?
It’s the Economy, Stupid is a two-hander about the why the economy (or at least, people’s perception of it) wins or loses elections. It asks what the cost of that might be, in a wealthy - but unequal – country like ours. It’s partly based on a true story of my family losing our home and livelihood in the early 90s recession. It’s mischievous, moving and a little bit magical too!

How would you describe the style of the show?
Myself and Dylan Howells are performing, but Dylan also does the tech from on stage, and there’s some stage magic too, as a visual metaphor for economics. All this gives it quite a fun and dynamic energy, but there are plenty of gentler storytelling sections too.

How have you approached developing the piece?
Lots of research has gone into it – various books and courses on economics, as well as speaking with economists, or people whose work is linked with economics (e.g. net zero policy). That’s then informed the research and development sessions I’ve done with Dylan, and our director and dramaturg Katharina Reinthaller, which in turn has informed the script, which is constantly evolving. We then test this material every few weeks with work-in-progress shows, and as I write this we’re heading into the rehearsal and preview stage, before Edinburgh, which we can’t wait for!

How do/will you prepare yourself for a run at the Fringe?
I think having a plan for making, testing and rehearsing the show, and staying on top of all the admin, gives you the best chance of feeling ready for it. And amongst that, trying to stay as active and healthy as possible, as it’s a long month, and takes a lot of stamina!

Other than the show, what’s something you’re looking forward to doing in Edinburgh this year?
There are friends from the UK and international touring circuits who I often only get to see at Fringe, so I can’t wait to catch up with them!

What keeps you inspired?
I often make work that’s quite politically charged, so there’s no shortage of inspiration there! Books and documentaries are a great source, as is meeting new people, or hearing stories from friends or family I’d never heard before. Creatively, there’s so many amazing films, books, games and TV shows out there, so that helps too!

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing the show?
Economics is more than maths and money – it’s about people, first and foremost. And while economics can be an incredible tool for understanding the world and improving people’s lives. Yet, as we all know, it can also increase inequality, and drive the housing and climate crises. We hope audiences will leave with a better understanding of the forces that impact their lives, and feel galvanised to demand that governments make the economy work for everyone, and protect our planet

Where can audiences see the show?
Pleasance Dome (Jack Dome), 13.10, from 31st July to 26th August (not 7th, 14th or 21st), then throughout the UK this autumn:

10 Sept - Old Woolen, Leeds
11 Sept - Down Town, Burnley (Culturapedia)
17/18 Sept - Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol
8 Oct - Exeter Phoenix
11 Oct - Tolmen Centre, Constantine
12 Oct - Old Library, Bodmin
14/15/16 Oct - Pleasance, London
18 Oct - Harrogate Theatre
19 Oct - Norwich Theatre
22/23 Oct - Cheltenham Everyman
24 Oct - Proteus Theatre, Basingstoke
25/26 Oct - Camden People's Theatre
28 / 29 Oct- Theatre Royal Bath

Tickets for the Fringe dates are available from

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