Please upgrade your browser for the best Refinery29 experience. Read more.

Saved! Access Favorites in your account profile. Removed from my favorites

Blush Is A New Play About Revenge Porn

comments
“Be aware before you share.” Thus read the slogan for the government’s awareness campaign around the “revenge porn” law that was introduced in April 2015. It was brought in to tackle the increasingly widespread problem of people forwarding on naked photos they’d received, or videoing sex and uploading it, sometimes in order to profit or publicly shame the person depicted. The law was put in place to criminalise anyone sharing images of a sexual nature whereby the subject did not consent, by giving the perpetrator up to two years’ jail time.

The revenge porn law acted as the impetus for writer and actor Charlotte Josephine to produce Blush, a theatre-piece based on sex, the internet, and the shame we suffer when the private turns public. I went to see it at Edinburgh Festival earlier this month, and what I found was a clever show that melds together not just one story about revenge porn, but five. In the space of an hour, and with a lot of shouting and swearing, Charlotte and co-actor Daniel Foxsmith take on the topic of revenge porn from the perspective of multiple characters, including a guilty dad with a bad porn habit, and a scorned woman who leaks dickpics online.

To find out more about what Charlotte learnt while researching and writing Blush, we caught up with her in Edinburgh.


Hi Charlotte. Firstly, a bit about you... how did you get into acting?

Well I had a speech impediment when I was little and as part of my speech therapy it was suggested I went to drama classes. I loved it, but it was years before I started to believe I could actually do it.

Where did the idea for Blush come from?
I think the play had been brewing for a while. I’d been researching shame, reading a lot of Brené Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert and Jon Ronson. Then I heard about revenge pornography and it felt to me like a clear catalyst for a piece that could explore the shame we feel at not measuring up to our gender-related responsibility, or at least what we perceive it to be.

How did you go about researching revenge porn?
I read a lot. I spoke to a lot of lovely men who were brave enough to share their hidden fears about what it means to be a man. I studied the brain, the effects of pornography on the brain, and what happens to us physiologically when we are behaving compulsively. I also visited a few ‘revenge porn’ websites, which was fucking horrendous, but necessary...

I can’t imagine. How did you land on the three characters you play, and can you tell us a bit about who each of them are?
I wanted to write characters that sounded like real people, so they all start from a personal place. Basically all five characters are bits of me, but are exaggerated or removed enough so I’m safe to perform them each night. If I’ve done my job well then the audience should relate to each character in some way, even if they don’t really want to admit it.
Do you think the 2015 laws around revenge porn have done or will do much to stop it happening to people?
I think the new law is a step in the right direction but it’s currently not good enough. Even the term "revenge porn" is extremely problematic. There’s a Professor called Clare McGlynn who is doing some fantastic work to change the terminology to "Image Based Sexual Abuse", which feels much more appropriate. I’m not an expert, so I don’t understand why it’s taking so long to make the vital changes. I feel extremely frustrated at our legal system, which seems murderously slow at changing laws which might protect women.

Should we take more responsibility for what we share and send to people online?
I’m not interested in telling anyone how to behave online. I think "revenge porn" is a modern manifestation of misogyny. I don’t know how to solve gender imbalance, but I do know we have to do it together, we have to reconnect honestly. I think we desperately need to change our sex education system in schools to include lessons on gender balance, respect, consent, homosexuality, pleasure and honest communication.

What else did you learn from creating Blush?
I’m still learning lots from doing Blush, both personally and professionally. But I think the biggest lesson I’d like to share is from Brené Brown, she says that “shame grows in secrecy and in silence, and the only way to kill it is with empathy.” Shame is a killer, we have to learn to talk about our mental health.

What’s next for Blush – will it come to London/ elsewhere?
Blush will be at Camden People’s Theatre in September for a few nights. We are currently planning a national tour and a longer London run, so stay tuned for news of dates and venues.
SHARE
TWEET
EMAIL