Rachel Salisbury’s show To the Moon and back…and back…and back… takes us on her journey from innocent Facebook post to Viral fame along with personal reflections about her search for love. The show plays at the Etcetera Theatre from 18th-22nd August as part of the Camden Fringe. I caught up with Rachel to find out all things To the Moon…and back…and back – and all things theatre…
Tell us a little about your show To the Moon…and back…and back… – where did the name come from and what’s the show all about?
The title came from the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” and then I imagined what happened if you went further back to before you’d ever met that person. The show is about looking for love, it’s about a Facebook status I did asking my friends to recommend people to me, it’s about that story going viral, and it’s also about stories of relationships that I’ve had throughout my life.
You’re a trained actress and you’ve had a taste of lots of mediums; poetry, web series, plays and film – what has the experience of producing a one woman show which rests solely on your shoulders been like?
It’s definitely been a learning curve! I don’t think I realised how much a producer does until I did this. I have the most incredible director Danae Cambrook who has really helped me realise my vision, has challenged the script and pushed me as an actor, so I really feel like it’s a collaboration between us two.
Would you say you have enjoyed the autonomy of writing and performing your own work about your own life more than the more traditional route of performing in productions written by others?
I enjoy both. I’m proud of myself for making this journey and writing a very personal story and performing my real-life events. But I also love the challenge of being given a script and you’ve got to create a character from scratch.
As a writer of both plays and poetry (with an award on the shelf for ‘best poem’ in Forward Poetry’s anthology “Immersed in Words”), would you characterise your play writing as lyrical in style or is there a distance between your poetry and play writing?
There’s definitely a distance between the writing styles. I think my playwriting style is quite immediate, but I equally love writing poetry because of the freedom of expression that it gives you as a writer.
To the Moon…and back…and back… is very personal and based on an experience with going viral. Would you say it is easier to share a personal story like this after it has already been swallowed up in cyber land or are you more protective of your story now?
I would love people to come along and hear the story as it actually happened, as opposed to an online version of events. I am proud to be able to share a very open and vulnerable story with everyone.
Do you consider this play to act as a form of political or social commentary on contemporary ideas of love and dating?
What struck me was how shocked everyone was after I’d posted on Facebook, like it was the bravest thing to do in the world. I think there is a lot of stigma about being single and seeming “desperate” and hiding the fact that you’re on dating apps, and acting like you don’t care and… I just stood up and said “I feel lonely, I’m looking for love” and it would be a better world if more people owned their vulnerabilities and that wasn’t seen as a negative thing.
Would you say your play is more critical or appreciative of social media and the phenomenon of ‘going viral’?
I think it’s a bit of both! A lot of people contacted me from all over the world on Facebook just to wish me well, so in that sense, that was a surprising opposite to the troll-ing that gets reported on a lot.
Modern dating stories generally land in the comedy genre – is that the case here or does the personal nature of your show allow for elements of drama too?
A lot of people have assumed when I’ve spoken about the content of the show that it’s a comedy or that it’s stand-up. There are definitely comic elements (some of the date stories you actually couldn’t write!), but there are definitely more serious and heart-felt moments too. I wouldn’t class it as a comedy no, I would say it’s storytelling theatre.
As a female sharing the experience of dating and looking for love, does the show carry a consciously feminist slant?
The original Facebook post stipulated that I was (and still am!) a feminist, so I think it’s there in everything I write. Do I actively talk about feminism in the play? No, but I think it will always be there because it’s something I’m so incredibly proud of and passionate about.
What would you say are your core intentions as the creator of a one woman play like To the Moon…and back…and back…?
I want to create a piece of theatre that is raw and vulnerable and daring and open.
If an audience takes just one thing away from seeing To the Moon…and back…and back…, what would you like that to be?
I would love them to come away feeling a little less alone.
Now for the Quick Fire Round on all things theatre!
Who or what has inspired you most in theatre?
“Beginning” by David Eldridge at the National Theatre inspired me A LOT.
Favourite theatre genre and why?
A gripping, tense, exciting, human, moving drama. Is that a legit genre?
Etiquette debates – worthwhile or futile? Where do you draw the line?
I am an unbelievable stickler for people talking in theatre. It’s the one place where your body essentially evaporates and it’s just your senses and your brain focusing on an amazing story and when people talk near me it brings me out of that. So I’d say they’re worthwhile.
If you could bring change in terms of opportunities in Theatre to London right now, what would it be? What does London need?
It needs auditions for drama schools to be FREE for families of low-income. It needs that desperately.
Finally, to close, sell your show to readers in just one sentence.
A play about being single in London, about going on dates, about past relationships, about finding your worth, about feeling lonely, and about looking for love… Did the Facebook post work? You’ll have to come and find out!
So there you have it! Remember: To the Moon…and back…and back… plays at the Etcetera Theatre from 18th-22nd August as part of the Camden Fringe and you can find tickets here.