Using personal stories and first-hand accounts, Faultlines is a play built on truth. Exploring the roots of violent relationships, Saltmine Theatre Company investigates the very first tremors of toxicity – control, gaslighting and stifling romance – which often lead to physical violence. Performing at the Fringe in two differing venues, The Fountain spoke with actress Emily Feltham about the premise of the show.

TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?

We can’t wait! It’s so exciting to be part of such a major creative movement.

TF: Faultlines certainly sounds interesting, what is the premise?

The title Faultlines refers to the geographical definition of cracks in the land which often lead to earthquakes or other catastrophic disasters. Similarly, in relationships, physical abuse is the first explicit sign of a partnership built on toxic foundations. The early tremors of controlling behaviour – constant messaging, overwhelming gifts, stifling affection – can often be mistaken for romance. Using movement, music, spoken word and monologue, we unpack survivors’ true stories of domestic abuse, enabling audiences to spot the early signs of abuse. Secrecy and isolation are absolutely key to abusive relationships – we want to spark the awareness which leads to conversation, support and ultimately, freedom.

TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?

Saltmine was approached by a local charity, Churches Housing Association of Dudley and District (CHADD), who wanted to commission a piece of theatre about domestic abuse. Amongst other projects CHADD provide refuge accommodation and support for people who have escaped abusive environments. Having already worked alongside the charity through delivering drama workshops, we met with some of the women at the refuge to hear their stories. We were struck by the intimacy and bravery of their honesty, and their determination to help other people by their experiences. Taking these accounts into the rehearsal room to devise around, we also fed in our own personal experiences of abusive relationships. Faultlines is a celebration of courage and the power of vulnerability.

TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?

As a company Saltmine are at the Fringe every year. As well as Faultlines this year we also have a show for families, A Long Road Home, which is a bonkers and brilliant retelling of the Prodigal Son parable – exploring issues of identity and self-worth with original music and a lot of laughs. The Fringe is a unique and fantastic opportunity to see an incredibly diverse array of theatre – I’d say, push the boundaries of what you’d normally opt for, be open to discovery. Having said that, there’s so much on that it’s impossible to see it all and it’s very easy to burn out! Rest is as important as play – walk around, just soak up the atmosphere, enjoy what you see when you’re not looking. I love street theatre so I’m just excited about the carnival of craziness that is the Royal Mile!

TF: And what are your future plans beyond Faultlines?

Saltmine is constantly producing work – we have several TIE productions covering knife crime, anti-extremism, unity in diversity and internet safety. We’re also planning a tour of Faultlines in 2020. It seems far off now but we’ll also be on the road at Christmas with three shows – well known tales with a twist! We tour all over the country to schools, churches, theatres, festivals, streets – keep your eyes peeled and we’ll hopefully see you there!

You can see Faultlines at Palmerston Place Church from 9th – 10th August and Carrubbers from 12th – 17th August at 16:30. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com