Award-winning writer and performer, Yolanda Mercy, first garnered critical acclaim with her debut production On The Edge Of Me.

The production fused live music, audience participation, spoken word, and storytelling to explore mental health issues and graduate unemployment. Since then, Mercy has become part of the BBC Writersroom, is currently on attachment with Soho Theatre and became a published author with Oberon Books for her award-winning play Quarter Life Crisis.

After selling out performances in 2017, this October Mercy is back with her hit theatre and radio show Quarter Life Crisis at the Bridge Theatre. We caught up with Mercy to find out more…

Hey Yolanda, please introduce yourself and a word or a sentence which best describes your life right now.

Hello, my name is Yolanda Mercy. I am an Actor and Writer for Stage, Screen, and Radio. I tend to make work that has been described as “Entertaining, relatable, and thought provoking”.  

Did you learn anything new about yourself during lockdown?

I think lockdown as a result of the pandemic wasn’t something that any of us expected. However, it has definitely provided a chance for reflection; a chance to take stock and reconnect with self. That kinda sounds pretentious right? *insert hand over face emoji*.  

You have been described as a new kind of triple threat performer, working as a poet, playwright, and actor – have you always flexed your muscles in each of these roles simultaneously, or were you initially drawn to a specific discipline?

I feel so honoured to be described in this way. It’s such a phrase. I’d definitely say yes I have actively spent time honing my craft, and let’s be honest I am always learning. I’m constantly trying to find ways to develop myself and practice. I really enjoy being creative so I invest a lot of time doing it, in whatever way possible.

Yolanda Mercy – Photo credit: Helen Murray

So, let’s talk about Quarter Life Crisis – how far is it based on your own experiences?

I’d say Quarter Life Crisis is inspired by real experiences, but I have taken creative license to fictionalise aspects of the story. 

As a writer, how do you negotiate the boundary between basing your art on your own life, and performing personal aspects of your life onstage?

So this is a big thing. I think when making work inspired by lived experience, I’d always encourage people to look after themselves. Cause some parts of the story might hold a strong emotional connection for you. Look after yourself and your well-being. 

Between creating your first award-winning show, On The Edge of Me, and Quarter Life Crisis, were there any key things that you learned?

I definitely started to develop my style as an artist. I found the ingredients that I like my work to include, and that was a fun process. I’d also say that process is still ongoing, especially as I grow. 

Performances of Quarter Life Crisis sold out when it was originally performed in 2017 – how does it feel to return to performing this play?

I feel super excited to bring Quarter Life Crisis back. It’s a nice chance to share the piece with a new audience. I literally can’t wait.

2020 has been a difficult year for the theatre industry, but you’re currently on attachment with Soho Theatre and your comedy-drama BBW debuted on channel 4 earlier this year. How have you motivated yourself to keep writing during this time?

I totally agree. This year has been challenging. I think my biggest thing has been taking every day as it comes. Knowing that some days may not go as planned and that’s okay. It’s a journey, right? 

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

  • A book you have to have in your collection: Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry 
  • A song/album that defines the soundtrack of your life to date: Ummmm that’s super hard. Can it be a playlist that includes Wizkid, Summer Walker, Frank Ocean, and Tiwa Savage?
  • A film / TV show that reminds you why you’re in this business: It’s always growing. Defo have to say Insecure
  • The first play you saw and what it meant to you: Random, Debbie Tucker Green. She’s such an Inspiration.

Quarter Life Crisis runs in repertoire from 7 – 17 October 2020 at the Bridge Theatre. Buy tickets and find out more here.