SAFE at the Old 505 (Freshworks FEMME)

The story of an affluent and unexceptional homemaker in the suburbs who randomly develops multiple chemical sensitivities.

A parody of the Todd Haynes film by the same name, ‘Safe’ is a co-creation by playwright Ang Collins and director Sarah Hadley – the same team who brought ‘You've Got Mail’ to the stage in 2018.

Rosie spoke to Sarah Hadley, the Director and Co-Writer of the work, about how this show came to be and what we can expect from its run at FreshWorks FEMME. Read the full interview below:

SAFE has been described as an atmospheric allergic reaction to the stranglehold of the late 20th century. What exactly inspired you to create this piece and why is now the right time to bring it to the stage?


I am obsessed with understanding expression specific to stage and screen, so I try to work across/between the two as often as possible. Safe is another iteration in my working partnership with Ang Collins, Writer and Dramaturg – on adapting a screenplay for the stage. We love this film, and think its cultural relevance has only grown in the years since it's been released. We wanted to bring the film to the stage to highlight that the consequences of rapid urbanisation, the climate crisis, and the pressures these things put on the individual, are not only still relevant, but seem to be exponentially increasing. The world is a very uncertain and often scary place at the moment, so we wanted to transplant something that was made almost 25 years ago into the now to see how audiences would react to it.


SAFE is being performed at the Old 505 as part of their Freshworks FEMME season. Why do you think programs such as this are so important to developing our theatre community?


We're the last show in this year's FreshWorks FEMME season, and we've seen a few of the shows that have come before us. All have been excellent, femme-driven works that deep dive into super contemporary women's issues, which are human issues after all. The works have ranged from polished to exciting and in development, and we think SAFE sits right amongst these exciting new works. In an arts climate that's a little arid right now (much like the setting of our show!), FreshWorks FEMME is a little oasis of refreshing projects that are there for audiences to enjoy - they're imperfect, experimental, vibrant works that I think the indie scene in Sydney frankly needs more of. It's hard not to be scared to put something that's not of a 'mainstage' standard out there in the independent venues, because of a number of factors, so I think the programme of FreshWorks FEMME actively works against that conservatism and puts out a set of pieces that are new, left of centre and above all, an enjoyable night out in Newtown.


What do you hope to achieve with SAFE, and what can audiences expect from this production?


We're hoping to achieve a number of things. For us as emerging artists, we're want to push our craft as an ensemble and test out this specific, new kind of work of adapting films back to the stage in an interesting way for the indie scene in Sydney. We're hoping to put a refreshing experimental twist on a cult classic, and highlight this masterpiece of film's continued relevance in an uncertain world. In terms of our audience, we hope to create an eerie, darkly funny, atmospheric performance piece that washes over you in the fifty minutes you'll be sitting in the theatre. Audiences can expect to see a contemporary twist on a melodrama, to be asked some questions about the state of the western world in the 21st century and what effects these huge global problems might have on you as the individual, and above all, to be entertained by a show that's a little quirky, a little scary, and hopefully beautiful.




Favourite production you have ever seen? 

Recently I had the privilege of watching Adena Jacob’s Titus.  It was a timely reminder that Australian practitioners are making work in here that rivals even the most progressive and inspiring work I have seen in Europe and the UK.

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

Finland, to the depths of a white forest, to a retreat, a quiet place. Having just spent two weeks in outback south Australia, I am craving a return to the sense of the infinite horizon and my insignificance to it.


Dream show to create?

Something devised over a year long period with intelligent makers from a multitude of disciplines around me.


Plays or musicals?

My love for cinematic melodrama keeps me stuck somewhere between the two.


A hobby you have beyond the theatre?

I am an obsessed cinefile and a meditative swimmer.

What’s next for you after this show?

Developments, workshops and more time with my whippets, Humphrey and Jerry.

SAFE is running at the Old 505 until November 2, 2019. You can get your tickets here.

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