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Josh Collins: 9 Circles

By | Published on Friday 24 June 2022

Headed to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer is ‘9 Circles’ by US playwright Bill Cain, a fascinating-sounding piece that tells a real life story of a soldier’s journey through the Iraq conflict and the US justice system.

Ahead of its time in the Scottish Capital, the show is on at London’s Park Theatre for a three week run, starting this coming week.

I was keen to find out more about the play and the team behind it, so I arranged a chat with Josh Collins, who plays the central role of Private Daniel Reeves. 

CM: Can you start by telling us a bit about the content of ‘9 Circles’ – what story does it tell?
JC: ‘9 Circles’ tells the real life story of Private Steven Dale Green during the conflict in Iraq and his trial in the American justice system.

CM: What themes does the play explore?
JC: The central issue explored is war crime, although – while the play explores the crime, and crime and punishment – it also explores the love, bravery and heroism soldiers experience during war. 

CM: What is your part in the play? What attracted you this role?
JC: I play Private Daniel Reeves. What drew me most to the role is the idea of humanity expressed through an unlikely individual.

Daniel is a soldier who is diagnosed with a personality disorder and is on trial for serious war crimes.

As he descends through the nine circles of hell, he faces many different lawyers, a shrink and a pastor – each of whom peel a layer away from him – leaving him stripped down and ultimately facing his true self.

I originally premiered the role at The Sheen Center in NY – off Broadway – and so feel very grateful to be able to bring it to the UK.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the rest of the cast?
JC: There are three other actors in the cast. Samara Neely-Cohen, who is also an executive producer; David Calvitto; and Daniel Bowerbank. They’ve all been absolutely brilliant and are extremely committed to the work!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the playwright Bill Cain?
JC: Bill Cain is an American playwright, founder of the Boston Shakespeare Company, and a Jesuit priest.

He co-directed ‘9 Circles’ in New York and we became good friends during that run. He has also been a brilliant support during this process and has been a massive help in grounding the world of the play. 

CM: The piece is directed by Guy Masterson. Can you tell us a little more about him and his approach to this project?
JC: Guy has been a tour de force. He is very skilled at seeing the ‘big picture’ and demands that each of us dig deep to find new levels of detail every day. 

CM: The show has a run in London shortly, of course, but is also doing a full run in Edinburgh in August. Have you performed at the Festival before?
JC: No, this is my first time in Edinburgh! So I’m really thrilled to be heading up for the whole run and looking forward to getting into the spirit of it all. 

CM: What are you most looking forward to about being at the Festival? Are you planning to see other shows?
JC: I’m definitely planning on seeing as many shows as possible, but also know it’s hard work and so I’m gearing up to flyer and pound the pavement! 

CM: Can we go back a bit now? How did you come to be pursuing a performing career? Was it what you always wanted to do?
JC: Acting has been in my family for generations… which meant I tried to run as far away as possible from being an actor! Alas, after many years of trying – and failing – to be a footballer I decided to give it a go – and haven’t looked back since.

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
JC: Looking back now there have been many highlights, but I always sort of enjoy the rites of passage in the profession. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe feels like one of those, and so I’m grateful to be going up and telling a story there. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
JC: My business partners – Samara Neely Cohen and Jesse Collins – and I are in the early days of starting a production company, and so we have a few ideas brewing. Otherwise, I’m keeping open to receiving what wants to come through, and of course staying focused on the work at hand!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
JC: I am in a couple of films which are coming out early next year and also finishing up a bit of filming for a TV show in September. Otherwise I’m hoping to get my garden all sorted and enjoy the summer in London. 

‘9 Circles’ was performed at The Park Theatre in London in July 2022, and then at Assembly George Square Studios at Edinburgh Festival 2022.

LINKS: www.parktheatre.co.uk | www.theatretoursinternational.com