Ashley Joseph is a talented actor, presenter, and writer.
His credits include All About the McKenzies (ITV2), Laur and Disorder (Masked Pony Productions), Lenny Henry’s Funny Black Singles (Leopard Films, BBC Comedy), EastEnders (BBC), SLHD (Amazon Prime) and Strapped (Central Films). Joseph also played Jared in the first British Black animated series JoJo & Gran Gran, currently broadcasting on CBeebies and BBC iPlayer. He has presented Saudia Arabia Formula E Concerts and Dubai Music Week (Live Nation) introducing the likes of Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Akon, and Chris Brown. He is also the presenter and co-creator of the improvised comedy show, ACTing Up!
If that wasn’t enough Joseph has adapted the classic fairytale The Princess and the Pea for stage. We caught up with him to find out more
Please introduce yourself…
I’m Ashley Joseph aka Ashley J presenter, writer and content maker.
What word or sentence best describes your life right now?
Enjoy the ride but choose your rollercoaster.
You have adapted The Princess and The Pea why this classic story?
Liza Vallance. The Director, she’s mad bossy! Only joking. We discussed a few different ideas, writing an original fairy tale was one of the options but we chose The Princess and The Pea as the story really presented a lot of potential to change and as I like to call it “remix the ting“.
Hans Christen Anderson wrote the original tale but it has been retold in many ways from many different viewpoints, for instance, Rachel Isadora retold the story with an African setting which gave it a beautiful new perspective. How are you retelling the story?
I have written the show from the perspective of the Princess and the Princes that came for her hand. It is also set in the incredibly stunning Eastbury Manor House. The audience is taken on a tour of “The International Pea Museum” as Princess Sky tells her story. Expect a few references to other fairy tale characters and a heavy seasoning of Diversity and Culture, with a strong side helping of London city, plus a good sprinkle of comedy and a great underscore of music.
Rose Marie Christian, Razak Osman, and Will Frazer have been included in the play how were they cast?
When Liza and I spoke about the show, I immediately thought of Rose-Marie Christian who is a super talented actress who starred in Film 4’s BBW earlier this year and Liza immediately thought of Will Frazer and Razak Osman who both starred in my Shakespeare adaptation of Merchant Of Venice which was also for Studio 3 Arts back in 2014.
And what were some of the staging considerations you had to make to show it at Eastbury Manor House?
Spacing was incredibly important. Using rooms that are well ventilated. Having two outdoor spaces throughout the show to make sure there is good air circulation. Also, the decision to perform the show in the round means audience members are able to be equally spaced apart from each other and the performers.
This has been a difficult time for theatre, how does it feel to be back on a live stage and this being a fully socially distanced and COVID-19 secured play how does this look?
It is an incredibly difficult time for theatre, the industry is not out of the ring but we are definitely on ropes pushing to get back up and staying strong against this challenging time. Being part of a team that has managed to bring a theatre show to the audience is a real pleasure and a huge responsibility. The Studio 3 Arts production team, have worked very hard to keep the show Covid secure. There are masks on arrival for those who may not have any. Hand sanitiser stations throughout the show. I wrote into the script areas for groups to stand during the show as we only have a certain number of groups per show to ensure we remain Covid secure. But, Liza, myself and the team have made sure it doesn’t prevent people from having a good time.
You are also an actor, presenter, and your writing credits include All About the McKenzies, Lenny Henry’s Funny Black Singles. and EastEnders … is this a necessary trait, being able to do it all – how do you juggle your talents?
See, this is the confusing thing about my bio and CV. I was in the cast for EastEnders, All About the McKenzies, and Lennys show. I didn’t write on those shows- would have loved to though. I went to New York for a while in 2012 and my acting coach strongly advised me to be confident and push forward with all my creative skills. I’m glad I was encouraged to do that back then, having several strings to my bow has really helped me to have a productive 2020- which is a BIG statement, I know. This year I was able to stay on top of my bills and feed my family as I was booked as an actor, presenter, and writer for different contracts. I juggle my talents based on what I am most passionate about at the time. The project that intrigues me the most is the one I go for if I’m torn between two job offers. Or alternatively, I just don’t sleep and Do. It. All! DO IT ALL. Just do it all very well.
Have you been writing for screen recently, will we be seeing more work from you in the near future?
Yes, I am currently working on two screen projects both for TV, but I’ve signed NDAs (Non-disclosure Agreements) so I cannot talk about them. What I can say is that I voice the character Jared in the hugely successful and brilliant CBeebies show JoJo and Gran-Gran which has been green-lit for Series 2 and 3, plus the radio series has just come out too. I’m also working on a Hip-Hop theatre stage show for 2021.
Are there any other classic stories that you would like to retell?
I’m not sure, I really like telling original stories at the moment. I’m always open to suggestions though.
How will you be spending this Christmas?
Back in April my second son aka Baby number final was born, so we’re having an intimate Christmas this year as our first as a family of four.
The Princess and the Pea runs 10th-20th December @ Eastbury Manor House, Barking findout more and book tickets here