Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Naomi Sheldon: Good Girl

By | Published on Thursday 16 November 2017

If you were at the Edinburgh Fringe in the summer, you might have been fortunate enough to catch ‘Good Girl’, Naomi Sheldon’s one-person show, a coming of age story exploring some important themes. If you didn’t, you’re in luck, because it’s heading for a short run at the Old Red Lion Theatre next week.
To find out more about the show and its creator, I put some questions to Naomi, ahead of those upcoming dates.

CM: What is ‘Good Girl’ about? What story does it tell?
NS: ‘Good Girl’ is a darkly comic storytelling show about growing up in the 90s, big emotions and how far we go to fit in. It’s a coming of age tale about GG, a girl who’s afraid of the intensity with which she feels, and charts what happens when she learns to repress those feelings.

CM: What themes does the show explore?
NS: The show explores the intensity of childhood and especially female friendships, sexual awakening and of course, what it is to be a ‘good girl’. It’s a look at what it means to have big emotions and powerful feelings in a society where it’s not acceptable or ‘good’ to show them.

CM: Why is it set in the past?
NS: I look around at my generation moving into their thirties and I want to know how we got here. The first part of Good Girl is set in the 90s because that’s when I grew up and I wanted write about the impact of growing up during the advent of Girl Power. Here we were appearing to be given this incredible power of feminism but in reality it was another way to sell us stuff. We went into the world thinking we were empowered but really it was based on “I don’t know what I’m doing but I’m gonna damn well do it” (my favourite Geri Halliwell quote there).

CM: What made you want to create a show with these themes?
NS: Supposedly a shiny new brand of feminism was kicking off in the 90s but when faced with harassment in the street, and quiet steady sexism in my life more generally I felt and feel ill-equipped to deal with it. I was interested in looking at what we learnt about ourselves, our bodies and our role in life during those formative years. What I found was a culture of silencing women and men who felt ‘other’ in any way. I wanted to explore what happens when we learn to self-silence and during a time when the only guidance we had was Eurotrash and Madonna.

CM: To what extent is it autobiographical?
NS: Nosy…! No, it’s semi-autobiographical in the way most fiction is. I’ve used my life experiences to inform GG’s story but if you were to lay out the events of the story that’s not exactly how things panned out… I’d say it’s honest rather than the whole truth…

CM: Why did you make it a one-person show?
NS: Honestly, at the time I didn’t think of any other way of doing it! I was interested in the intimacy of storytelling, no fourth-wall, a character confiding in the audience with their story. It’s a show about someone who often feels like an outsider so the idea of performing it alone was a great fit.

CM: How did you end up here? Did you always want to be a performer?
NS: I’ve always wanted to be an actor ever since I played the crocodile in the school Christmas show and got an applause for falling over. I thought, “brilliant, this is the life for me”. Writing has been a wonderful surprise for me- I absolutely love it. I think being a performer has helped hugely. If I do a really bad bit of writing, I know it pretty quickly once I’ve said it aloud… it does means I look mad, though, writing away and muttering to myself.

CM: Do you do other kinds of writing, as well as writing for the stage?
NS: I do lots of improv which is writing of sorts! Writing in the moment…

I’m also beginning to write for screen, which I love. I’ve just done a little short – ‘Recall for Range of Women’.

CM: What ambitions do you have for the future?
NS: I’d like to develop ‘Good Girl’ for the screen, it’s very aligned with the tidal wave of voices speaking out at the moment and I’d like to explore that. I’d love to be acting more for screen, it’ll be great to get back to playing parts I haven’t written!

CM: What’s coming up next?
NS: After ‘Good Girl’ at the Old Red Lion I’ll be working on the MONOBOX Playstart scheme – developing a new short show with an emerging writer. I love being in the rehearsal room so I’m really looking forward to it.

‘Good Girl’ is on the Old Red Lion Theatre from 27 Nov-1 Dec, see this page here for more info.