OUT: Anywhere Theatre Festival - Sans Love

Words by Jesse Thompson

The beloved Anywhere Theatre Festival has made its name by eschewing with the traditional theatre stage in favour of public transport, restaurants and warehouses.  Sans Love has taken the Anywhere Theatre license to transform one step further in reinventing Love Love Studio as the setting of its endearing and amorous parable.

What was once the studio's main room has been recast as a  cooly lit bedroom abounded by fairy lights, its walls lined with artwork installed specifically for the show (to be developed into its own exhibition), and red cotton wool tied from each end of the central bed frame, looped through hooks in the ceiling, and tied onto just about every prop Sans Love uses.

Couches and cushions line each side of the makeshift stage, affording a cap of thirty attendees closer proximity to the performance.  Sans Love replays the ill-fated love lives of its two hopelessly lovelorn central characters. A handful of supporting actors (including our own Steph Stainlay) intertwine, intervene, and recount their own experiences with the virtues and (mostly) vices of (unrequited) romance, which were so scarring that the've boycotted love altogether.

What is the value of love? is the question being asked here.  And what is the value of a life without it?

Sans Love is smart, funny, teeming with witty pop culture references, and by both anchored its deeper insights into amour and a talented cast.  Like most Anywhere Theatre shows, it's worth attending even if only to see how so intimate a gallery space can be recycled as a theatre stage. Also: ABBA singalongs. Also: numerous punny references to cheese.

Here are some photos from the nigh.   Scroll down for our interview with writer/director Lauren Sherritt!

Lauren Sherritt / 23 / Writer and Director of Sans Love

This was your first shot at writing and directing a show.  How did it go?

Interesting.  When you've written something you have a fairly clear idea of what you want to do.  But you don't put up any boundaries, and you say things like 'then they take her on twenty dates in a minute', but you're just saying that because you can.  You have to direct it.  You have to actually make that happen, and that's a little more difficult.  And you don't have a writer to depend on.  You're just like 'aaaah, me. That was a terrible choice'.  So it kind of makes it more difficult, but it also makes it a little bit easier, I think, because you obviously have a really keen vision of what you're trying to communicate.

How does using these kinds of alternative spaces change what you can do compared to a traditional stage?

I think for us, the festival changes the atmosphere of what we're doing.  So the idea of walking into the space gives you a new sort of intimacy.  And having a really intimate space works for us, because that's what we always wanted.  But it does mean things like I can't do traditional lighting.  I had to think of alternative set-ups.  For us as well, the big question was seating, and how we were going to seat the audience.  We wanted some of the actors to sit in the audience and use the audience, but we didn't just want to have a stage and then an audience space.  I think figuring out how that works and how you can include the audience like that is a whole other challenge.

Where did you come up with the idea?  Is there any sort of biographical influence going on there?

Not a huge amount in terms of heartbreak.  Originally I was thinking of how society and how media operate, and how they give this image of how you can get through with being heartbroken, and how it never really works.  I was wondering how people get over things, and whether they actually do.  So originally I was looking at things like campaigns where they teach men how to show emotion, and how it's really difficult to teach people really healthy ways to deal with this kind of thing.  And that led to me creating a girl who had the most unhealthy way of dealing with it, which was taking it all away.

Favourite kind of cheese?

Probably tasty cheddar.  Just the plain sort of cheese like we had going on in there - $6 from Coles.  I like parmesan and some other fancier ones, but tasty is always a good way to go.

We snuck along to an industry preview, but Sans Love is showing Wednesday through Saturday, with an additional matinee on Saturday and a sneaky part-ay on Friday night featuring live music and chats with the cast and producers.

Tickets are $20ea, available here.

Happy festivalling!