My Festival: Apphia Campbell

The creator of the award-winning Woke answers our weekly Q&A

Apphia Campbell in her show Black is the Colour of My Voice

What are you doing for this year’s festival?

I’m bringing back my shows Woke and Black Is The Color Of My Voice.

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What do you most want to see this year and why?

I honestly haven’t looked at what’s on yet, but I’m willing to see just about anything that’s live. That’s the thing about being hungry for live art – you’ll take anything as long as it’s not on Zoom.

How has lockdown been for you? Has it changed you, and if so how?

I’ve spent more time at home than I have over the past seven years. Lockdown has made me reach out to my friends more regularly and make connections with the people around me. I got to know all my neighbours – how about that?!

What are the best and worst things about social distancing?

Best – plenty of space on the trains. Worst – I haven’t seen my family in the United States in two years.

Please tell us about your first ever Edinburgh festival appearance.

I came in 2014 with Black Is The Color Of My Voice. It was my first time at the Fringe and performing my show at a large festival. I was so nervous because of all the stories you read about terrible Fringe experiences, so I prepared myself mentally by saying, 'As long as you have double digits – meaning 10 people – you're doing okay.

My first review came out, and it wasn't great. But I continued with my plans: exit flyering similar shows, flyering certain times of the day, etc. And it was shortly after that review - a day later maybe - that I was out flyering (right after my show), and I met a woman who had just been to see Black. She told me how moved she was by the show, and how much she connected with the story.

I walked away thinking that no matter what happens, at least the audiences understand what I'm trying to say. Black Is The Color of my Voice ended up doing exceptionally well - selling out the whole Fringe - and has been touring the world since with even runs on the West End. The Fringe really does change artists’ lives.

Do you have a favourite memory of the festival?

Watching Bryony Kimmings’ I’m a Phoenix Bitch changed my life.

What do you think the future of the Edinburgh festivals looks like?

I hope it continues to be a place where artists can come to try new works, and where we see the beginnings of some of the greatest storytellers of our time.

Please name a piece of music that sums up the past year for you.

Be Nice from the Black Eyed Peas. Because we’ve all been locked away, this year has really made me stop and talk to new people. I’ve loved making even small connections with different people. I think I’ll keep that after we come out of this pandemic.

Thank you! We’d love to buy you a drink. What do you want from the (socially distanced) bar?

A grasshopper.

Woke, Pleasance EICC, 7, 9, 13 & 15 August. Black Is The Color Of My Voice, Pleasance EICC, 6, 8, 10, 12 & 14 August.

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