Stories > Blogs > Pretending to Fly by Ashley Adelman – An Artist’s Story

Pretending to Fly by Ashley Adelman

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the greatest celebrations of arts and culture on the planet, takes place each August. With over 3,000 shows taking place across the city, there’s a great buzz and lots of excitement.  We’ve reached out to artists who have or will perform in the Fringe to ask if they will share their stories. Our hope is that we can learn from each other and inspire one another to take positive steps to look after our mental health and wellbeing.

Hear from Ashley Adelman on living through the pandemic in the city that never sleeps and finding solace from a pilot’s story.

Myself and my company are from NYC. We all were here during the pandemic and did not feel the media truly captured what things were like in the city during Covid (using buzz words like “the city is dead.”). For so many of us – this was our home, and the only one we ever felt safe in.

I lived by myself and it was a really scary time to see everyone I loved leave the city, knowing I had nowhere else to go. And not wanting to leave my home.

To have a city that never sleeps, be silent. I used to go out every day from early morning until late night (that is the city way). Between theatre and my day job I was never home. And then for a year – I barely left my apartment or saw another human from outside the computer. We were all stuck in tiny apartments but found solace in meeting outside for workouts and  – theatre. This is how I got through the pandemic. With the play I am bringing to Edinburgh.

During that time when I was terrified and had a lot of past mental health things come out, I found solace in this interview I did many years ago with this woman pilot from WWII. I transcribed her interview, which takes days to do for me. While working on this I found solace in her words. She wanted to fly her whole life and got the opportunity during WWII. When the war ended she no longer would be able to fly as women were back to having no opportunities. This woman (Carla) just moved forward. Found the best way to live her life in whatever way the world allowed… And never felt sorry for herself – only hope. She lived until 92, loved her husband, had great kids and even when I interviewed her at the age of 91 she was still teaching; a job she loved.

I found solace in her words

After transcribing, I contacted my friends and through zoom and some outdoor rehearsals – we created a play that emulated life – we used her oral history and intertwined it with a fictional story (based on the oral histories I then did with those who stayed in NYC during the pandemic) of two people trying to forget their fears, worries and the unknown by playing out this woman’s story. 

Right now in NYC, those of us who are still here are still suffering. No one is talking about what we went through and what we are still going through. The city changed so much but the lawmakers have wanted us to just return to normal life. The mental health here has resulted in so many unhoused in almost every neighborhood.

There seems to be this fear to talk about what happened during quarantine and we want to share our experiences and hear if anyone in Edinburgh related. 

Pretending to Fly is on at theSpace @ Symposium Hall – Annexe from 14 – 26 August