My Festival Q&A: Yolanda Mercy

London-based actor and playwright on the impact of coronavirus on the theatre industry and the future of the Edinburgh Festival

Yolanda Mercy.
Yolanda Mercy.

What were you planning to do at this year’s festival?

I wasn't planning to take a show to the Fringe this year, but I was keen to enjoy a lot of shows and the beautiful city.

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What are you doing instead?

I guess I am like most people. I’m trying to navigate this new normal, which basically means adapting to whatever happens next. I have also been using this time to start enjoying more content, you know those shows on your watch list that you say I’ll check that out soon– yes those! So I’ve been working through my watch, audio and reading list. Plus, I’m starting to prepare for my performance of Quarter Life Crisis at Shedinburgh, a festival by the amazing Francesca Moody and Gary McNair- it will showcase shows performed live from either London or Edinburgh. There are so many fantastic shows to choose from and enjoy.

What impact has the lockdown had on you?

Our current situation is something none of us had expected, as a result it has caused a lot uncertainty and has impacted people in different ways. However the one thing I would say is a theme or comment I hear a lot, is people finding ‘new ways to connect’. For me it’s been a way of finding those new ways of communicating i.e. joining a new Whatsapp group, online Writer/Actor meet ups and online film watching nights.

What do you think the future of theatre looks like?

I think that's a very interesting question because with more people being at home, and what I mentioned about communicating and connecting, it’s resulting in people starting to look at the current systems that are in place, and what needs to be reviewed/changed. I’m hopeful that these shifts will include more voices that aren’t always supported and represented.

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

There are a lot of conversations about how the Fringe currently operates and runs, and over the coming months I’m excited about seeing how it can include and support voices that aren’t always reflected.

What’s your favourite memory of the Edinburgh Festival?

Sooo many! I’m a bit obsessed with live performance and I love seeing shows. So being at the Fringe is like an ‘all you can eat buffet, there is always something to consume. I’d also say the people, the ones you meet on the train from London to Waverley, or the ones you meet at the bar in Cowgate or the ones you’ve bonded with on day 689324252 of performing your show, and you’re supporting each other as you pass on the Mile. Also having the support of Underbelly. It made my Fringe experience one to remember. The staff were all so welcoming. It felt like home in Cowgate. I just smile thinking about all the people who Id see around and how they were so supportive. They welcomed me and my show. The worked hard to make sure Quarter Life Crisis was looked after.

Please recommend a fun thing you can do while social distancing.

Well I think the online space has provided a way to connect with people. So Ive been doing this in group calls or chats. Plus, watching shows with friends in their respective homes, so you could check out a show at Shedinburgh with your friend at the same time.

Yolanda Mercy will perform her show Quarter Life Crisis online as part of Shedinburgh on Wednesday 26 August at 7.30pm. Book tickets at www.shedinburgh.com. All proceeds raised from Shedinburgh will go into a fund to support new artists to bring their work to the Edinburgh Festival in 2021.

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