"I started thinking about the child-prodigy-to-mediocre-adult pipeline. I thought about success – what it is, how to get it, and why we all seem to want it so badly." We sat down with writer/performer Ashton turner ahead of her world premiere caberet, former gifted child, opening next week at explosives factory!
Q: Can you please introduce yourself and how you got into comedy?
A: I’m Ashton, I’m 24, and I’m a Leo. I’m a musician first, but amongst all those dramatic ballads I was writing, I realised how much fun it was to make the audience laugh with my music rather than cry! Now I do both, wrapping everything up into a big, emotional, silly, musical blob.
Q: What do you most enjoy about writing and performing your own work?
A: I love that I get to perform as me. I love the intimacy and authenticity that it promotes with the audiences. Also, I am a control freak.
Q: What did you want to explore with ‘Former Gifted Child’?
A: Last year, during the depths of lockdown, I was rifling through boxes at my Mum’s place and found a report that a psychologist wrote about me when I was seven years old, labelling me as “gifted”. I had a brain that ran a thousand miles an hour and a vocabulary to match – but also, I couldn’t tie my shoelaces until I was twelve.
Finding that report made me think about how being a child genius (and a modest one, at that) did absolutely nothing to prepare me for the turmoils of adulthood. I started thinking about the child-prodigy-to-mediocre-adult pipeline. I thought about success – what it is, how to get it, and why we all seem to want it so badly. Former Gifted Child is all about those things – success, intelligence, and growing up.
Q: The show is described as a one-woman cabaret – is storytelling through music and songs something you are naturally drawn to?
A: When people think about cabaret, I think a lot of them picture an older woman in a pashmina singing jazz standards whilst leaning provocatively on a grand piano. But I was drawn to cabaret because of its inherent storytelling potential. I think that adding the medium of music adds so much to the performance. The songs I write are an extension of my thoughts, so the stories I tell seem to weave themselves between speech and song pretty seamlessly.
Q: Funniest comedian of all-time?
A: Humour, like intelligence, is subjective. But when I’m down, no one puts a smile on my face like Miranda Hart and John Mulaney.
Q: A world without laughter would be…
A: ...like me when I don’t take my SSRIs…depressing!