Blasted at Malthouse Theatre

Rosie spoke with Director, Anne-Louise Sarks this week about 'Blasted,' currently playing at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne, Australia. Blasted is a controversial work written by powerhouse writer, Sarah Kane, which was absolutely ready to be seen on stage again. Sarks speaks about her responsibility to the text and finding those moments of theatre that change you within this piece. It's a truly interesting read - have a look below:

Blasted is widely known as a controversial play, one that shocks and confronts even the most liberal of theatre goers. What attracted you to this play and to staging something quite this explicit? Why is this work so important?

One of the reasons that I wanted to work on this play is because I wanted Australian audiences to have an experience of this work, and because Sarah Kane feels so important in the ecology of theatre to me. But mostly the thing that really strikes me when I read this play, is that Sarah Kane is having a conversation about masculinity and about violence— violence in domestic relationships—and how that violence is the seed of what is happening to us globally, in the wars and conflicts that surround us. To make that connection I think is inspired, to see those things as coming from the same place. I still don’t think that these are two ideas that we connect very often, I don’t think we’re really inside that conversation yet as a society. Yet this story is incredibly relevant to us. In the last few months our newspapers have been full of stories of women who have been killed by men who were partners or ex-partners. There’s much more for us to understand about the way power and sex and violence is used, largely by men against women for power.


What's it like taking on a play with such a divisive reputation? Did you feel any pressure to live up to the hype?

I feel a great sense of responsibility to Sarah Kane, to give her brilliant and challenging play the production it deserved. I feel a responsibility to our audiences, to let them into the work, to lead them on this journey with sensitivity and generosity. And I feel a great responsibility to the cast and crew of the show, to help them navigate this world.
























What are the joys in bringing a show like this to the stage?

The great joy is much like any play I make with a team; collaborating and finding the most satisfying way of sharing this story.

Why do you think Sarah Kane's works are so valuable in approaching the political, the shameful, the taboo?

Sarah Kane changed the theatrical landscape. She was bold and courageous and rigorous. She saw the world differently. She was so far ahead of her time. She wrote about Violence and cruelty from a female perspective, and she did not back away from the darkness. And she challenged the theatrical form.

What can audiences expect from this production of Blasted?

Tenderness and humanity.

As mentioned before, the content in this play can be quite confronting to watch - but to perform in is another thing entirely. How do you work with such content and present it so realistically, then make sure it doesn't come home with you?

I try to leave the play in the room. And to take extra care of myself. Long walks to and from work, cooking meals at the end of the day, but the truth is, you can’t leave a play like this at work. It gets inside you and changes you, and that is a blessing in many ways.

What is the most valuable thing that you've learned from this show?

I loved working on the rhythms of Kane’s writing.

Why is it important for audiences to see Blasted?

What Sarah Kane is asking us to do with Blasted - she’s not just telling us that these issues exist and are important—She’s asking us to feel what that is, and to experience it.

Theatre is visceral and immersive and communal. It does not tell, it invites us to feel. It offers its audience an opportunity to get inside experiences, to try to understand, to know in a deeper way. And to do so together. It’s not always easy, or comfortable, but that’s what is so special about theatre. That’s what theatre does, that no other art form can do.


Favourite production you have ever seen?

Most recently I loved The Writer at the Almeida in London

You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?

Right now I’d go on a holiday, somewhere, anywhere warm. I’ve been living between the UK and Australia and I’ve been doing winter to winter. Crazy!

Dream show to direct?

I’d love to do a musical.

Plays or musicals?

Plays 90% of the time.

A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

I read a lot of books. I love to go walking.

What’s next for you after this show?

I’m doing a new feminist version of An Enemy of the People at Belvoir with Kate Mulvany and Melissa Reeves.

Blasted continues at The Malthouse theatre until September 16th so be sure to get your tickets today

Anne-Louise Sarks

David Woods & Eloise Mignon in Blasted. Photo Credit: Pia Johnson

David Woods & Eloise Mignon in Blasted. Photo Credit: Pia Johnson

Fayssal Bazzi in Blasted. Photo Credit: Pia Johnson

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