First Drafts: Sarah Kosar

First Drafts is about the future of theatre. It is a chance for artists to try out a new idea on The Yard stage and is designed to fuel the growth of artists and their work by offering vital development and performance opportunities.

We asked some of the First Drafts artists to tell us a bit more about the idea they’ll be testing out and what impact they think First Drafts will have on their work.

Sarah Kosar, Human Suit

Friday 14 July, 7:30pm

Describe your First Drafts idea in three words

Women. Ambition. Cacti.

Tell us a bit more about your idea and what led you to make it.

From 2013 – 2016 I’ve had a series of bizarre, unexplained and difficult to connect health issues. Through my many trips to the doctors and seeing various specialists, I’ve developed some intense and unique relationships to my doctors. Following conversations with other women, I quickly realised that this was a phenomenon that many women I knew were also experiencing. The journey I was on resonated with our all female creative team and became a story we were all incredibly passionate about telling.

As a surrealist playwright, I like to play with juxtaposed images (in this case a doctor and a cactus!) and then slowly unpick the emotional truth I’m trying to personally understand. Human Suit will be a surreal journey about women, sickness, ambition and figuring out what makes us better.

Tell us a bit about yourself as an artist.

I am a surrealist playwright. I write plays about theatrical worlds that look like our own but whose twisted mechanics expose the absurdity of human behaviour through a surrealist register. My mission is to tell stories on stage that are theatrical, dangerous, teetering on the edge between beautiful and grotesque and could absolutely never ever be told in another medium.

 

Why do you think it’s important to put your idea in front of an audience & how do you think it will affect its development?

Theatre is a collaborative medium and at the centre of that collaboration is the play and the audience. As a playwright, I can only judge the success of my work by the audience’s engagement. The scale I utilise for my work? If they aren’t leaning in or pulling away, I’m not working hard enough. If we go to the theatre to escape, it’s my job to keep you in the moment and offer a visceral, honest experience.

What about First Drafts are you most excited about & what other shows are you most looking forward to?

As a big fan of The Yard and the bold artistic choices they advocate and present, I’m very excited to share Human Suit on their stage. It’s wonderful to be included in a line up alongside such talented artists. Some top highlights that I know won’t disappoint are Girl Meets Boy with Debbie Hannan (who I’m currently working on a new project with) and Cunt with Katherine Manners and Holly Race Roughan

Human Suit will be on as part of First Drafts on 17 July (7.30pm) and 19 July (9pm).

Sarah’s play Mumburger is also currently playing at the Old Red Lion from 27 June – 22 July. You can find out more here.

First Drafts: Greg Wohead

First Drafts is about the future of theatre. It is a chance for artists to try out a new idea on The Yard stage and is designed to fuel the growth of artists and their work by offering vital development and performance opportunities.

We asked some of the First Drafts artists to tell us a bit more about the idea they’ll be testing out and what impact they think First Drafts will have on their work.

Greg Wohead, Call it a Day

Friday 14 July, 7:30pm

Describe your First Drafts idea in three words

Slippery, Repeating, Off-centre

Tell us a bit more about your idea and what led you to make it.

Call it Day stems from an interaction I had in the Midwestern US in 2009 with an Amish couple who were living a traditional very religious life on a farm with no modern technology or electricity. I had a conversation with them in their kitchen over the course of an afternoon in which we talked about our lives and asked each other questions. Looking back from the present, suddenly there are elements of that conversation that come into sharp focus – binaries like traditional/progressive or secular/religious. This idea will take those as starting points and rather than try to come to any solid conclusions, multiplies and illuminates some complexity and strangeness.

The idea is that me and three other performers step into the shoes of the people who were a part of that remembered conversation in 2009 and repeat it in a loop, swapping roles and each taking control of the conversation at different times, so that it becomes less about the actual conversation I had, but more a launchpad to explore the ideas, questions and problems involved in that interaction.

Tell us a bit about yourself as an artist.

I’ve mainly made solo performances in the past – things like The Ted Bundy Project, which orbited around ideas of morbid curiosity using a serial killer’s confession tapes, and Comeback Special, which attempted a sort of reenactment of Elvis Presley’s 1968 Comeback TV Special. This is the first project I’ll be making in collaboration with other artist/performers in which we all perform in the work. My collaborators for this stage of the project are Vera Chok, Season Butler and Tim Bromage, who are all brilliant.

Increasingly I’m interested in strangeness and weirdness – that’s not just to be weird for the sake of it or to be deliberately confusing or to make an audience feel like they don’t get something. I think I feel a sense of strangeness about life and the world – I feel like at times I’ve been pushed to come to definite conclusions or singular answers, and I’ve always resisted that. I’ve never been absolutely certain about much. So for me an important part of my work is to lean into confusion, multiplicity, weirdness and slipperiness, and this work will probably have a flavour of that.

Why do you think it’s important to put your idea in front of an audience & how do you think it will affect its development?

There’s an element to this performance that will be improvised in some way – we’ll allow space for each other to respond or to follow our noses somewhere unexpected if that feels interesting. So in that way I want to keep a real sense that this is live. It almost definitely won’t be totally scripted. So in some ways, the only way to see what some of the possibilities are will be in the moment of performance with an audience.

What about First Drafts are you most excited about & what other shows are you most looking forward to?

There are lots of great artists involved in First Drafts – I’m looking forward to seeing new work by some of my friends and sometime-collaborators Rachel Mars, Joe Wild, Cheryl Gallacher and Rachael Young – they are all fantastic artists. I’ve also heard great things about Laura Burns’ work but have never seen it, so I’m looking forward to checking out her work. Contexts like this where all the artists and see each other’s work and form a sort of temporary community in dialogue with one another can affect the future of the work in interesting ways, so I’m looking forward to that.

BOY 1

by Griffyn Gillian, from Tread Lightly a Ponyboy Curtis zine

 Maddy Costa has made some beautiful Ponyboy Curtis zines that are free at every performance of vs.

He is tall. As tall as he wants to be. And thin. Not Thin. Just. thin, in the ankles. Or thin in his smile, when he’s been standing a little longer than he knows what to do with. Fingertips on your neck that change. Rough in the spring and fall, soft in the summer. He shaves when you least expect it. A slit in the eyebrow. A streak on one side of the head. A beard, the chest, just plain head hair you watched him grow for months and months and months and he never tried to explain why.

He’s lean. Too lean to catch you slowly, sometimes. The kind of muscle that challenges you to a push-up contest and somehow he wins or you win but you don’t get close to finishing. Maybe he’s quick to lose a fight he promised you wouldn’t happen. But that’s just teenage stuff you can put in the past.

He’s looking at your back, wondering about your spine. His eyes are softer than you remember. And he’s wearing a fresh coat. Familiar, same harsh zipper, subtle phase shift on the angles of his shoulders and turn of his wrist, alien skeleton and colour.

So it’s a whisper, and it’s one that you don’t hear; no one hears anything, and they all imagine something different. And you think he probably asks you to take a walk. Or offers you a fag. It’s cacophonous between you. His sunglasses are welding goggles are tight pants are a breath just off-field. Are shedding in abandon.

And his bed isn’t very far away. No one probably sleeps in it that night, not even him. But it’s that space between the bonfire and the mattress they all imagine; settle into all the multitudinous spaces in the half-conscious grasping of hands before the sunrise begins to seep in.

TWO BRAND NEW SUMMER PROJECTS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN HACKNEY

The Yard Theatre is looking for young people aged 15-19 to join two free local projects The Committee and You, Me, The World and Hackney.

These two pilot projects are designed to create space for bold ideas from young people living in Hackney. They will be at the core of The Yard’s local programme, which works to engage local people in radical arts projects.

At a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to have a voice in our culture, we want to provide a platform for them to tell us what they think theatre should be. This is what The Committee is for.

You, Me, The World and Hackney challenges the increasing empathy deficit in our society, with a genuinely fresh approach to bringing people together through sharing stories.

We believe that through these projects we can reach deep into Hackney Wick and beyond, connecting people and reflecting our local neighbourhood through what we host in our theatre and in Hub67.

Jay Miller, The Yard Theatre Artistic Director

These projects are part of Discover Young Hackney and supported by Hackney Council, London Legacy Development Corporation and The Wick Award.

What does your local area mean to you?
What does it mean to other people?
What does it mean to exist on this planet, at this time and in this place?

It’s big questions like these that we want 15-19 year olds to tackle this July. Through storytelling and theatre workshops, led by exciting artists Nick Cassenbaum and Olly Hawes, you will share thoughts and develop ideas, leading to an original performance in front of a live audience.

Find out more here

Want to run the show? Now’s your chance. The Yard Theatre is looking for ten people, aged 15 – 19, to take creative control of the theatre.

Through practical theatre workshops and weekly meetings, you’ll develop a new Creative Committee, influencing the theatre’s future and getting to watch our shows too. At the end of the project, The Committee will present their new manifesto on The Yard stage to a live audience.

Find out more here

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First Drafts

11 July – 4 August

Ideas first seen here will go on to form our programme over the next three years. If you’re looking for the future of theatre, The Yard is where you’ll find it.

Jay Miller
Artistic Director, The Yard Theatre

For six years, The Yard’s mission has been to invest in brave and bold new ideas from the writing and performance world. First Drafts will see over twenty artists perform new ideas in front of an audience for the first time.

The festival is a space to test new ideas from artists, combining the worlds of performance and script-based practices. It’s a festival of untested ideas. It’s a risk. And frankly, it could go either way. But it’s our job to take these risks. It’s also our job to invite you to take these risks with us.

Listings

11 July The Lady and The Unicorn, Emma Stirling

12 July Forge, Rachel Mars

13 July Give It Up, Joe Wild

14 July Call it a Day, Greg Wohead

17/19 July Human Suit, Sarah Kosar and Deirdre McLaughlin

18 July Yardlings

19/20 July Cove, Laura Burns

21/22 July The Act, Company Three

21/22 July You, Joe Harbot and Cheryl Gallacher

23/24 July My Kind of Michael, Nick Cassenbaum

24/26 July Girl Meets Boy, Debbie Hannan and the company

26 July Cunt, Katherine Manners and Holly Race Roughan

29/31 July Roulette Player, Ilinca Radulian

2 August The Orchard of Lost Souls, Fio

Why are we making This Beautiful Future?

To be in love is to feel unstoppable. Even in a strange and scary world.

For Elodie and Otto, a French schoolgirl and teenage German soldier in 1944 Occupied France, this situation is all too real.

Cruelty is everywhere. Despair is endemic. The rules of living have been turned on their heads. What is goodness in a world at war?

Elodie and Otto are living in a time of extremes.

But somehow, amongst all this, they find each other in the darkness. Caught in the middle of a war, two teenagers take shelter from the world outside. They muck around. They talk. They touch. They fall in love. And it’s a little bit of a miracle. A new life.

Elodie and Otto are at the heart of This Beautiful Future. Two young people locked in a moment in time, clutching each other beneath bedcovers as they unknowingly approach the end of war and life as they know it. Their innocence is that of children, who will be judged as adults come morning. Their hope is of the hopeless. It’s joyful, beautiful, and painful.

Why are we making a love story in our own time of extremes? And why this story in particular?

2016 left us divided and scared. Sometimes it is right to reflect these feelings back, to make shows that have hard edges and hard-nosed politics. But not always. Sometimes what we need is to look for the humanity amongst the rubble. To speak about how we long to be better. To laugh. To hope. To love.

This Beautiful Future encourages us to look back in order to look forward; to draw a connection between 1944, a time in which the world was exploding into violence, and today.

But more than this, This Beautiful Future is a show that reminds us to look for tenderness amongst the chaos. To imagine a beautiful future. To seek it out.

 Even if it’s futile. Even if we’re scared. Even if it’s just for one night.

Assistant Director Ruby’s Rehearsal Blog

We’re in the final stretch in rehearsals for This Beautiful Future this week, and fast approaching tech. This wonderful team of creatives are drawing together the unique components of first love, history, dreams, karaoke and chicks that make up this heart-wrenching production written by Rita Kalnejais and directed by Jay Miller. In keeping with the shows exploration of time, I want to take a moment to pause and look back to share some fragments from the research and rehearsal process with you…

Eating friend chicken with teenagers

A real highlight was chatting about the future over fried chicken and cream soda with a fantastic bunch of teenagers. The group are a part of the Company Three ensemble, an incredible theatre company who make work with young people about the teenage experience for adult audiences. Jay and Rita felt it would be useful to connect with some teens to help with character development for our 17 year old Elodie and 15 year old Otto, and to find out more about teenage attitudes towards the future at the moment, to hear about their ideas, hopes and aspirations.  
I tagged along with them, and 2 of our incredible actors Hannah Millward and Bradley Hall. As well as some cracking fried chicken, it was super inspiring to be reminded of the positivity and energy of young people right now. But chatting about the need to get more sleep, to stop worrying about work and to stop going on our phones all the time, I did wonder if growing up actually changes anything at all.

Running the opening for the first time

Without any spoilers, Jay’s created a sort of delicate but energetic spark of an opening to our story, combining Jonah Brody’s joyous and epic karaoke music (sung beautifully by actors Alwyne Taylor and Paul Haley) and Rita’s uplifting text. The first time we put it all together it was such a thrill. It makes me smile and my heart beat a little faster every time I see it.

Big Booty everyday

Every afternoon in rehearsals we play Big Booty. Everyone in the rehearsal room at the time has to join in. It involves a lot of dancing.

Researching a new past

Before rehearsals began I spent a week in the Imperial War Museum’s Research rooms (fab free archives and reading rooms should you ever need it http://www.iwm.org.uk/research/research-facilitiesreading) delving into World War 2 and life in Occupied France. I thought I knew this topic pretty well through AS History, but examining my understanding of the war from a French perspective was a fascinating experience. The German invasion of France happened in the a mere 6 weeks. This whirlwind was traumatic, humiliating and deeply confusing for civilians, and left many without a clear sense of whose side they should be on. It fractured France for a generation and that the stories told in France from the period are often conflicting.

Although full of horror and tragedy, the British understanding of the most momentous period in our living memory is pretty clear cut – isn’t it? It’s easy to teach in schools, as we were on the right side of history. Our grandparents were heroes, civilians made of steel who never surrendered against the most unimaginable evil. Not to discredit their bravery and sacrifice, I’ve come to see how the sentimental story of honour could be dangerous. Perhaps it’s blindsided us to other atrocities we’ve committed in recent history, and allowed an arrogance to emerge that leaves us incapable of spotting the pattern of events that a dangerously fractured Europe can lead to.

Part of the genius of Rita’s story is in it’s offering of a fresh outlook, a view which shakes up our historical understanding of good and evil, as well as reminding us of the lessons of the past.

It’s a useful tool for young people right now as it can be hard for to understand the extremes of current world events. But what this play does offer is an injection of hope within an examination of trauma. It looks at the positive energy of youth and love to overcome the barriers to paint a beautiful future. (seamless right?… now go book a ticket!!)

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Cécile Trémolières on the design for This Beautiful Future

The world of the design for This Beautiful Future needed to have the heightened quality that life takes when you first fall in love and/or when you’re hit by the war. The play has a very specific context but we wanted to make sure that it did not feel remote, from another time. We explored our relationship to the past, and to memory, and how it is sometimes idealized, but how things are still resonating and should never be forgotten. We wanted the set to be able to blur the references to an explicit time and place in order to make the story more dreamy, and more universal.

We looked at artwork representing ideal french landscapes like the ones from the Barbizon’s school of painters (1830’s), specific images of France occupied by the Germans and how women who had relationship with Wehrmacht soldiers got punished by their community in 1944. We also looked at karaoke lights, catholic confessional booth design, chickens hatching youtube videos, old people dancing and self aware make-believe art.

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First Love Stories

This Beautiful Future tells the story of two teenagers, Elodie and Otto, falling in love for the very first time. Elodie is a French schoolgirl, Otto is a Nazi soldier, it’s 1944 and the war is coming to an end.

Despite the extreme circumstances, at it’s heart This Beautiful Future is a story of first love in all it’s tenderness, innocence and awkwardness.

Reflecting on experiences of first love, we asked the team to share (anonymously) their stories about the first time they thought they had fallen in love.

I met him in playgroup. I was besotted. With his blonde hair and blue eyes. Moving onto primary school together, I was convinced he was the one. I tried all methods possible to get him to fall in love with me, including pulling him to kiss me by the coat pegs as everyone came into the classroom – surely this public display of affection would mean he had to love me? The day came when I was cast as snow white and him prince charming. I was over the moon. I still remember where he kissed my hand to wake me from my “deep sleep”. It’s all on film. I watched it back repeatedly to look for the sincerity in his actions. In year 6 we took a trip to the Isle of Wight. Surely by now he would ask me out? We went to a candle making workshop. He bought a beautiful candle at vast expense (£5). This must be for me? At dinner my ‘best friend’ Leanne came over with a big grin on her face – Oliver Mencarini had asked her out and given her a candle. She said she didn’t like him but she’d go out with him anyway, “coz he bought me a candle”. Needless to say, I was devastated.

When I was in year 6, in what was surely the height of my popularity (never to be repeated again), I was going out with the fittest boy in year 6: Tyler. I was drunk on the fame, on feeling so special. He was so beautiful. Big brown eyes I’d chase after for the next 15 years or so. But having a position of power and influence was a dangerous place aged 11. The fates were cruel. Tyler could be going out with you one minute and the next minute be holding your friend Cathryn’s hand on the playing field, watching her do handstands of a quality you’d never reach.

So when Tyler – lovely, cheeky Tyler – gave me an ultimatum: get off with me or you’re dumped (delivered by his charming but hapless friend Marc), I did what every twenty first century gal does and buckled helplessly under the pressure. Me and my mate Louise met the boys after school one afternoon and we walked to the railway arches, the edges of our known world. Everyone stood in a circle around us while we snogged, with tongues and everything. It was horrible, obviously. I ended up with the nickname ‘100 miles an hour’ because of the speed with which my mouth moved. Cringe. And I think he dumped me for Cathryn in the end anyway. Learning early on that moulding yourself for love doesn’t get you anywhere. And that snogs are way better in private.

When I was in Year 1 I dated three girls, all called Emma.

When I was in Year 5 I dated Mallorie. She enticed me over with Nintendo 64 then pushed me onto her bed and dry-humped me. While Anna watched.

In Year 6 I dated Katy. She chased me around the playground and on Valentine’s Day gave me a little miniature of Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male. It was a little male torso which I found deeply fascinating.

In Year 9 I spent so long planning how and where I was going to kiss Laura that I never did.

In Year 12 I was staying in a camper van with my mates and was sleeping next to Josh. We ended up spooning and I was intoxicated by the smell of his hair and neck. He turned over to face me and, with our friends inches away, we started to kiss and embrace. We had to be so quiet so we didn’t wake our friends and so, the next day, decided to excuse ourselves to sleep in the storage tent alongside the camper van because “we were sick and didn’t want to spread it to the others”. There we were able to discover each other in more privacy and we didn’t sleep a wink. Everything was just brilliant with him those days and nights and they extended into 2 years of love in the closet.

I fell in ‘love’ with a musician from my favourite band as a teenager. We ended up flirting whilst he was playing on stage. I didn’t stick around after the gig; instead I tracked him down on MySpace and he invited me to join them on tour, so I flew out to Austria. Then a few months later, I flew to Toronto for a week…but it all fell apart in a haze of dope smoke.

The first time I fell in love was with my best friend.

I told him twice. He said he didn’t feel the same way.

We are still best friends.

I was Rosalind, he was Orlando, the dramatics were amateur. He asked me what I did and when I responded “GCSEs” he went “Jesus”. He was six years older and it felt like a lifetime. He wrote me a song and I snogged him with tongues in the play. He had all the limited edition Radiohead CDs and used the word soulmate. I bought him The Thrills and felt like a goon. He texted me the lyrics to a new song that “wasn’t strictly about me”, just some totally fictitious unreliable indecisive girl. I think he married his childhood sweetheart in the end.

My first and second time of (thinking I was) falling in love was with the same person. The first time I was seven. He was very blonde & the fastest boy in school, we went out briefly in year 4 and went on a date to watch Maid in Manhattan in the cinema. He broke up with me and left school to be home-schooled. The second time I was sixteen. Our paths crossed again through mutual friends. We’d get together at camp outs and parties at ‘free-houses’, one time behind a doctors surgery in the middle of the day. I was pretty besotted and called him every time I was drunk but he was a stoner and wasn’t interested in much else. So I went out with his best friend instead. For a year and a half.

Fell in love with nanny. Think my dad shacked up with her instead. It’s complicated