Brighton Festival 2017Public booking opens: Fri 24 Feb, 9am

Festival Hot Seat...Endings

Australian artist Tamara Saulwick brings Endings to Brighton Festival for its UK premiere. Part soundscape, part theatre piece, she tells us more about the show


Can you tell us what your show is about?

In some ways it’s about the strangeness and ordinariness of life ending. But it’s also about the deep connection we share with loved ones and the desire to maintain that connection in some way, even after those loved ones are no longer with us.

How and where will the work be staged?

Endings is both a sound work and a theatre or performance work; an interplay between live voice and song, and prerecorded voices that crackle into life on old portable 1960s record players and reel-to-reel players. We work with lots of recorded interviews that have been cut up and are replayed on stage using vinyl records and magnetic tape. So it is kind of like a radio documentary that’s been wrenched from the airwaves, then reconstituted and refracted through old technology and live performance. It’s being performed at The Old Market

Why should someone come and see your show?

You could come for Paddy Mann’s songs alone! Paddy has the voice of an angel and writes unbelievably beautiful lyrics and melodies. He works with me onstage and has written songs specifically for the piece, which are threaded into the overall sound design.

Despite the subject matter, or perhaps because of it, people seem to find this work really very life-affirming. I’ve always been interested in the things that connect us to one another … what we share and how we can see ourselves in the experience of others. In the words of one reviewer, ‘Its subject matter is difficult by default and impossible to hear without grafting onto it your own fears and faces. But it is uplifting too, and comforting, offering a sense that death is an experience shared with the living, even if only momentarily.’

Where did the idea and inspiration come from?

It’s always hard to pinpoint the beginning point of an idea. But I was interested in this theme of ‘endings’ and I had this sound and image in my mind of the needle turning around and around at the end of a vinyl record. That sound alone carries so many associations and resonances.

Why do you think it’s an important story to tell?

One of the things I love about theatre is that we sit together in the dark to attend to what occurs onstage collectively. In that moment we are a community of sorts, connected through shared stories and experiences. Death is something that touches us all but is so rarely talked about with any candour. Endings creates a kind of collective holding place for this most inevitable of shared experiences—a place within which multiple stories and perspectives can be voiced and evoked and heard in the company of others.

What sort of person is going to love this show?

To be honest I don’t think there is a ‘type’ of person who will like or dislike the show. The content has the capacity to resonate with anyone, and in that sense is very accessible. The form of the work is relatively unconventional, I suppose. So people who are interested in contemporary performance, sound, and finding new ways to bring ideas to the stage should enjoy watching the way this work unfolds.

What’s going to surprise people about this show?

The way it is staged and how we work with light. It’s pretty special.

What does Brighton Festival mean to you? Do you have a favourite Festival moment?

I’m coming from Australia to the Festival for the first time. So I’m looking forward to experiencing my favourite Festival moment …

What are you most looking forward to in this year’s Brighton Festival programme?

That’s a tough question. There is so much on! But I have to say that after seeing Kate Tempest perform in Australia, I’m really looking forward to checking out her work again. She’s an inspiring artist.

Endings is at The Old Market 9 to 13 May