L Squared on their VAULT Festival show, Far Out
L Squared are all set to blast off into Far Out space at this year’s VAULT Festival, with their three brave adventurers in search of a new planet. Meanwhile back on earth, they have created a mentorship fund for emerging theatre makers to shadow creatives and gain experience at the festival. We sat down to chat with writer Libby Williamson and director Lauren Lambert Moore to find out more.
So who are L Squared Theatre?
Hi! We are L Squared Theatre: Libby Williamson, writer, and Lauren Lambert Moore, director. Libby is based in Manchester while Lauren is from Brighton. We met in peak pandemic times through a Zoom scratch night, and discovered a shared love for fantastical, funny shows with a lot of heart.
And what can you tell us about your show, Far Out?
It’s our first full show together, a queer sci-fi comedy set on a spaceship. It follows three astronauts in the year 2150 searching for a new world for the human race! It’s a fundamentally queer story but it’s not ‘about’ queerness- the characters just exist as they are, and in the mad universe they live in, their sexuality isn’t an issue. Which is a relief because there’s a lot of other issues to deal with, like the end of the world and all that.
Who are those characters then?
The characters are Jed, Ellis and Alma. Jed is the pilot/navigator, Ellis is communications/mechanic, while Alma is the Captain. They all have their reasons for wanting to leave Earth, but they also all have a shared delight in the universe and love of adventure. They come into themselves through their friendship, and learn from each other in really interesting ways. They’re also struggling with different kinds of loss and grief – which makes sense, since it’s a show about the Earth being all burnt up by climate change! That doesn’t stop them having lots of space adventures and exploding things, though.
Our cast are the wonderful Bertie Taylor-Smith (he/they), Atlanta Hayward (she/her), and Bobby Wilkinson (they/them).
Originally planned for VAULT 2022, you described coming to VAULT as “a massively exciting, scary, brilliant prospect!” Tell us a little more about this and your journey just to get here?
Exciting scary and brilliant about sums it up! Yes, we were programmed for March 2022, and of course that all came crashing down when the festival was cancelled. It was really sad at the time, and we had to go and recalibrate a bit, have some chocolate, all that. That led us in some exciting directions, though. We got to do Omnibus Theatre’s ‘Engine Room’, do a lot more R&Ding on the script and re-submit our ACE application (twice!). We’re buzzing that Far Out got reprogrammed as it’s now in a much stronger place. AND we can reveal we finally got Arts Council funding!! So we’re approaching VAULT from a much more stable, prepared place. We know we’ve got something good going on, now we just need to put it out into the universe (pardon the space pun).
Being based in different regions of the country present an extra set of challenges, logistical and otherwise?
It does, but in some ways it’s actually ended up being an asset. Combining forces to meet in the middle in London for VAULT has made us very efficient when we do meet, and of course we’ve got really familiar with Zoom and Google Meet over the last two years. It also means we have theatre links in Brighton and Manchester, where we’re hoping to tour in the near future.
We loved your video where you combined a first table read with the VAULT Festival meet and greet. Other than busy(!), how was that day?
That day was amazing! We’d met our three fab actors beforehand on our audition day, but it’s such a different context when the cast is confirmed and you know what you’re working towards. That’s the magic of great actors, too, they bring life and humour into parts of the script that even we didn’t see yet- and we know the script for Far Out back to front at this point! The VAULT meet and greet was lovely too, felt like a proper taster of all the excitement to come.
You mentioned an interest in regional representation and increasing access, can you tell us more about that? And how do you think VAULT contributes to this?
It’s tricky because obviously VAULT is IN London, the land of expensive pints and ridiculous rent… yet it is a cultural hub which manages to be more accessible than many others, and we know how hard their team works to increase representation. The fact that there are no up-front costs to hire the space is massive in itself, and the ongoing support the team provides with marketing and literally EVERYTHING makes it more welcoming to creatives outside London. It’s certainly more doable financially than Edinburgh these days- though that’s not saying much!
As creatives based outside London, we’re really keen to find ways to include more people who aren’t based in London and help them develop their practice. Now we have our ACE funding, that’s taking the shape of a mentorship scheme; we’re investing up to £2000 in our funding to develop two emerging theatre-makers, one based in Brighton, one in Greater Manchester, to give them an opportunity to shadow the creatives of their choice and experience VAULT while having their transport and accommodation covered. That’s something we’re really excited about!
The deadline for application is 1 February – details here.
What next for L Squared Theatre and Far Out?
That is the question! The dream is to tour nationally (/internationally? Imagine!) with Far Out, and keep developing (as theatre-makers and people) and somehow not bankrupt ourselves on shiny spaceship set pieces. Continuing to get people paid is a huge one. Of course we already have more fantastical, queer, weird show ideas in the pipeline (multiverses and pirates have been mentioned…) which we’re absolutely buzzing to explore.
Finally, do you have any recommendations for other shows to check out at VAULT Festival?
This seems to be the year of queer sci-fi, so we’d be amiss to not recommend I F*cked You in My Spaceship by Louis Emmitt-Stern, which looks top-notch. Also My Lover Was A Salmon in the Climate Apocalypse by our mates over at Bradan Theatre. And How We Begin by Surfacing Acts Theatre, Definitely Maybe Actually Nevermind by The Haus of Bollix and The Unconventionals by Chromatic Creative… god that list could just keep going! VAULT is going to be something special this year, huh?
Far Out plays VAULT Festival 14 – 18 February. Further information and tickets can be found here.
Credits: Atlanta – Brandon Bishop / Bertie – Dan Pick / Bobby – YellowBelly Photo /Poster by Arabella Wunderlich