Focus on: Suzi Ruffell

Becca Moody speaks to Suzi Ruffell about human rights, late-night anxieties and Fringe aspirations

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 3 minutes
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Suzi Ruffell
Published 26 Jul 2018

It would be an understatement to say that Suzi Ruffell has had a busy time leading up to this year’s Fringe. "I toured my last show all throughout spring, then did two previews of the new show, then went to Australia for a month. While I was in Australia I wrote heaps and now previews start tomorrow." It’s probably worth noting that she only flew back from Australia today.

But she’s enjoying being busy because it means her writing is more disciplined: "You have to become better at learning how to manage your time better so that you can write. I sit down and do two hours of working really hard rather than mulling over an idea for four hours."

Ruffell is renowned for exploring class and status, but this year’s show is slightly different: "I’m not really talking about class this year. I’ve moved on to different subjects. I'm talking more about global human rights. I went on a trip to India this year, and being a queer person in a country where homosexuality is criminalised was something I wanted to talk about on stage."

It’s clear that Suzi aspires for political depth—"I like to have a conversation piece in the show"—but she approaches such areas with caution: "I just don’t want to say the wrong thing. How do you respect someone else’s culture whilst still protecting your own sense of dignity and the allowance to be who you are in the world?"

But Nocturnal is also an expression of more personal matters, particularly Suzi’s own experiences with anxiety. "I’m constantly awake at night worrying about a whole myriad of things. And they all seem to hold the same weight, but some of them are ridiculous and some of them are actually quite important. I don’t know whether that’s something everybody does or if it’s unique to me."

And she's also passionate about her LGBTQ+ audience: "I seem to have created a fanbase of young queer people and I love that. I love that they feel like I'm talking to them, or talking about them, or just including them. That’s really important to me because when I was growing up I didn’t feel like I was included in that sort of stuff."

Despite her big subject matter, Ruffell’s aspirations for this year’s Fringe are more modest, and no doubt easily achievable for such a confident and vibrant performer: "I want busy rooms and lots of people laughing. I want people to get to know me a bit better and then I hope I’m still really excited to tour the show after doing it in Edinburgh for the month!"