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Interview: Bunkering Down With Buddies

Disa Andersen on her Camden Fringe show, Bunker Buddies

We can never seem to get enough of shows about the end of the world; we’re just not sure if this is some nihilistic tendency on our part or simply because we do love a disaster movie! Either way, we were more than pleased to see Bunker Buddies appear in the Camden Fringe listings, especially as it would appear to break from the norm where two unlikely characters are thrown together and fall in love. Instead it looked more a case of two unlikely characters thrown together who will do anything but fall in love… or so we think? But to find out more we locked ourselves in for an hour with writer Disa Andersen to ask the all important questions.

What can you tell us about Bunker Buddies to whet our appetite more then?

We decided to produce this show as a response to a shift we could feel in the zeitgeist after lockdown. There was this whole desire for escapism, to abandon reality and to just have fun for a bit. And Bunker Buddies is first and foremost a fun show. 

There are always plenty of shows that start with the premise of two strangers thrown together in isolation, what are you doing differently with your show? 

What´s interesting about this show is that we sport a wholly international creative team with ties across Europe and Scandinavia. Of course the magic of theatre is often tied to the fact that people come from various different backgrounds but in our case they span miles and borders. We each have a different frame of reference and different experiences of theatre in general. Of course we’ve all experienced isolation in one way or another but we each came out of it differently. It’s interesting that you mentioned nihilism earlier because I definitely feel that, as a writer, the world is full of it as well as existentialism. There is so much awareness out in the world it almost makes one want to clock out all together. One of my favourite art movements is Dadaism which was formed as a response to the horrors of the First World War. I´m not implying that Bunker Buddies is a meaningless show but rather one that you can enjoy without meaning but will find one if you look for it.  I can promise a show that embraces  silliness, absurdism and pokes fun at the bourgeoisie.

What do you feel it is about end of the world shows that mean we can never get enough of them?  

I think the end of days fascinates people because we are intrinsically drawn to the idea of hope in a wholly hopeless place. But ,unlike what the mighty poet Rihanna says, our protagonists do not find love in a hopeless place. Will they find hope however? That remains to be seen. Bunker Buddies plays around with and debates the very nature of relationships, because after all, in the post apocalyptic world there is no need to adhere to the constraints of traditional relationships. Or traditional anything. Two young people going through a traumatic experience together, there is bound to be some attraction. But can that bond run deeper than that? That´s what I´m interested in exploring. 

Koffín Productions is a London based Nordic theatre company – does the long dark winter nights of your homeland in Iceland help you imagine the isolation we might get for the end of the world?

I find that a difficult question to answer. The UK is my home now, this is where I have spent my entire adult life. The decision to set the show in Iceland was a late one, but it seemed appropriate, developers are after all constantly looking to Iceland with their dystopian new inventions. Why not a luxury bunker for the super rich? Most of my frame of reference for the Bunker come from the UK however. My day job involves whizzing around genuine World War Two bunkers and showing them to people, talking about life in the bunkers etc. So you can say I have definitely put in my hours underground. I´m fascinated with how the English view the war with a degree of nostalgia almost. That being said, you wouldn’t be able to build a bunker of this degree here without it drawing attention. In Iceland however? There are vast spaces that are considered uninhabitable. It seems like the perfect setting for the end of the world. After all people used to believe that the entrance to hell was somewhere in Iceland, and Jules Verne sets the entrance to the centre of the earth in the historically mystical Snæfellsjökull. So essentially the perfect setting. 

And are black box theatres such as Lion and Unicorn ideal locations for such dystopian stories? We assume they make set design nice and easy!

Black Box theatres are absolutely the perfect place for a show like this. Bunker Buddies is written to be easy to tour, it´s what we call an out of the box show, meaning that most of the set comes out of a box and at the end of the run it goes back into the box and the box moves somewhere else. The box in our case is a suitcase but it works just the same. We’ve been having a lot of fun with coming up with different minimalist but interesting set ideas, and I can´t wait to see the audience response to it. 

Can you promise us this won’t end as a love story then with the two suddenly overcoming all their differences to find love? Or do we have to wait and see about that then?

I don´t want to give too much away. But this isn´t a story about love, it’s much more a story about expectations, and ultimately disappointments. 

And after Camden Fringe what else do you have planned for 2023?

I mean there’s the hard bit isnt it? I´m constantly writing. I´m working on a second poetry collection and a satirical rom-com with my co-producer Nea Cornér. But it’s hard to tell when new opportunities will come in. I don´t want to put a damper on things but being a working class producer in the middle of a cost of living crisis is pretty much a death sentence for art. I don´t know if I will come out of this run in profit or in debt for example. It’s a really difficult time for everyone right now and luxuries are usually the first to go. I will continue creating, I cannot help myself. But whether or not anyone will be able to see those creations anytime soon, that’s anyone’s guess. 

Thanks to Disa for the chat. You can catch Bunker Buddies when it plays at Lion and Unicorn Theatre between 3 and 5 August as part of this year’s Camden Fringe. Further information and bookings can be found here.

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