An interview with Kate Sagovsky, by Student Ambassador Rachel Triggs

Under the Student Ambassador Scheme at Ovalhouse theatre I have been lucky enough to attend a great movement workshop and see the show SOMETIMES THERE’S LIGHT [Sometimes There’s Dark] by Moving Dust. After the show I got the opportunity to interview the show’s wonderfully down-to-earth Artistic Director: Kate Sagovsky. Here’s what she had to say:

Rachel: What was your inspiration for the show?
Kate: The main inspiration came from when a lot of my family members and people I knew well died over a short period of time. I think our society is lacking in rituals to do with death; we are distant from death because of the likes of modern medicine. I found it strange that I got to the age of 28 without experiencing death before. I thought about all those things and that was reflected in the writing for the show.

Rachel: Does it feel different for you and your cast each time you perform because your show is site specific and the location is always changing?

Kate: It’s both different and the same. When we moved venues for the first time I found it really interesting that the show still felt like the show. Yet every show is different and every venue offers a different vibe. Whatever venue people come and see the show at, it will always be the same show yet at the same time it will be totally unique.

Rachel: What was your inspiration behind your costume ideas?
Kate: Quite a lot of costume has come from what we were working with in the rehearsal room and ideas that seemed to fit the character that we wanted to try out. For example the fur coats. We have been working with them for ages, the dancers come in wearing them with their tracksuit bottoms to rehearsal. Some of the things we were thinking about were the distinction of what is real and alive, with one dancer in jeans and shorts looking like your normal bloke, all the way through to Joe who plays a mystical character who embodies males and females. It has been an evolving process with costume but it has been connected into how the dancers practically use it.

Rachel: Do you not believe that your show would have worked in an end-on space?
Kate: No, because so much of the movement that we make is expressive movement which is the detail of the hand or the feet, I really wanted the audience to be close up to it. Too much distance and too much framing in an end-on space kills dead the subtleties of what we are trying to get the audience to share with us. I wanted the audience to have the same relationship to the performers as I do in a rehearsal room, where I am really close to them. What you get from them in that set-up is always a totally magical experience.

Rachel: How did the lighting fit in with your idea?
Kate: It was to do with creating a space where the audience is part of the set up, rather than it being ‘here’s a stage with a set on it and here’s the audience’. We thought of the idea of where the audience is sitting in the middle of the space where the performers go round the back of you. It seemed right that the light was solid, that the performers themselves were architectural objects. It was for very practical reasons as well: we are in a building which doesn’t have a theatre rig. For us there was something in that the light is almost a character in the piece; how the performers interact with it and how they are in control of it.

Rachel: If you didn’t have a career within the theatre what do you think you would be doing?
Kate: I’ve only ever wanted to do this since I was eight years old. But sometimes I do feel stuck because it is hard to fight things like lack of funding. Sometimes I think, ‘why didn’t I want to be a doctor’ or something a bit more normal! I don’t know what else I would be doing because I love doing this. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to make work at all; every day I spend in a rehearsal room feels like a treat.

Rachel: What would your advice be to students starting off in the industry, who have got the same dreams as you?
Kate: To know that it is going to be hard, but try to keep the joy of what you do in the centre of it. I said yes to lots and lots of jobs to grow and to learn things and to meet people. It’s really important to separate the logistics of what you’re doing -  trying to get work - and then what the heart of what you’re doing is. Keep the heart of why you want to be doing it at the centre of what you’re doing. Stay joyful, stay playful, stay kind!

SOMETIMES THERE’S LIGHT is a truly phenomenal show. The beauty is within its creativity. There is no definitive answer of what the show is about: it’s left open to your interpretation. I could see the show a hundred times and notice something new each time I saw it. The constant high level of energy from the performers is amazing, and the multi-purpose use of lighting and costume is great too. I have seen DV8’s Jon this week at the National and preferred Kate’s work. I would recommend anyone and everyone to see this show!

Additional information

SOMETIMES THERE’S LIGHT [Sometimes There’s Dark] is a part of Ovalhouse's autumn season 2014 

Interview by Rachel Triggs, Ovalhouse Student Ambassador
November 2014