Theatre is always taking place in the present moment — a fact that playwright Sarah Kosar doesn’t want audiences at her new play Mumburger to forget. Ahead of the show’s debut at Old Red Lion Theatre, Kosar discusses theatre’s immediacy and how her writing goes straight for the gut in this guest blog.
I feel things in my gut, don’t you?
When I’m unsure, surprised or just can’t digest what’s in front of me, my stomach churns. Sometimes it makes sounds, but it always makes itself known. Those somersaults and pinches and jabs help me figure out who I am, what I believe in and where my boundaries are. The themes of my play Mumburger demand the same of an audience.
Mumburger questions how far you would go for someone you love and the obligation associated with love, death and family. The premise is centred around a mum asking her husband and daughter to eat her as a way to combat animal agriculture and climate change following her death. This surreal idea came from an honest conversation about death with my husband (We’re super romantic, I know!) and it stayed with me, constantly pulling me in different directions. What would I do for him? Is there anything I wouldn’t? Do I care if he wouldn’t do the things I would want after I’m gone? We questioned how far we would each go for each other in terms of our after-life requests and the obligation associated with it . . .
I knew I had to write this play to unpick where I sat with it all. For me, writing is a journey that starts out with a question that I need to emotionally confront. The director, Tommo Fowler, and I hope that with this production, audiences can do the same.
My approach and the way I utilise the themes of disconnection, grief, obligation and love in Mumburger are to make them immediate, entertaining, surprising and surreal. Ultimately, I hope Mumburger challenges you to be present with the questions, decisions and stomach-churning dilemmas in the play. You’ll smell the meat and there’s no escape from it. You’ll be in the same position as the characters, and I think the physiological response is immediate. Are you hungry? Are you repulsed? Are you both?
So often we can see stories on stage that don’t require our physical presence. Mumburger demands an audience to be there in the moment. I want to take audiences away from the past and the future circling in their minds and sit them down with a story they can invest in. We all have pressure and stress in our lives and as a storyteller, it’s my job to take you away, just for a little while.
If we go to the theatre, it better be worth it. I put clothes on for it! I brush my hair, I travel, I spend money on drinks. It’s integral that we get something at the theatre that we can’t with stay-at-home mediums like TV, film, Twitter or Facebook. I want to feel. Full stop.
So that’s my mission with Mumburger. You’ll be there in the room with these characters. You’ll smell, you’ll see, you’ll experience the things happening on stage — and I hope when you leave, I’ll have done my job and made you feel something in your gut too.
Mumburger will play at the Old Red Lion Theatre from 27 June – 22 July.