Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Sarah Kosar: Armadillo

By | Published on Friday 24 May 2019

Headed to The Yard Theatre this week is a production of a new play from ‘Mumburger’ author Sarah Kosar, which focuses on one woman’s relationship with firearms.

Kosar’s works always sound appealing to me when I hear about them, because they take some really quirky ideas and use them to explore pertinent issues. To find out more about her latest play, and what to expect next from her, I arranged a quick chat.

CM: Can you start by telling us about the content of the play? What story does it tell?
SK: The play is centred around Sam, a woman who was abducted for a week when she was thirteen by her family’s handyman/friend. She was then saved when she was recognised by her history teacher with a gun in Walmart. Following that experience, she became increasingly reliant and connected to her gun. When the play starts, a thirteen year old girl goes missing but Sam doesn’t have her gun anymore… only a nerf gun as a substitute!

‘Armadillo’ looks at the ways we make ourselves feel safe and what happens when we don’t have that coping mechanism anymore. How do our fears manifest and consume us? How do we manage danger?

CM: Who are the central characters, and what are they like?
SK: The central characters are Sam, her husband John and her brother Scotty. They are three people that are trying to find protection with and without their guns and through each other. As danger and protection come closer and closer together, each of their fears start to seep out. They’re all playful, weird and scared characters.

CM: What themes does the play explore?
SK: Who and what in the world do we need to make us feel protected (and does that come along with danger)? How are our desires connected to our greatest fears? How are we defined by our pain, trauma and fears and can we control that narrative?

CM: What made you want to look at these themes? What inspired you to write this?
SK: It came from a personal place of trying to make sense of my own fears, desires, rejections and pain and especially those that others have found silly or not taken seriously. I wanted to explore those complicated feelings through the metaphor of guns alongside the compulsions we have, the fears that take over, and the people in our lives we ask to protect us.

By utilising a central metaphor of a couple’s relationship to their guns, could I make an audience understand why someone would want a gun, and could I even get them to root for someone having one? Theatre is a church of empathy; we have to put ourselves in a room full of strangers and be open to understanding other people’s perspectives and experiences. How far can we take that? How truthful could I make it through using the registers of visceral, weird and playful?

CM: Would you describe it as political?
SK: Whilst there’s no debating if gun ownership is a political issue, ‘Armadillo’ isn’t about reinforcing an already anti-gun stance and perspective. The play, I hope, will make folks grapple with understanding why someone would want a gun and maybe how they could get to the place of wanting one too.

I believe the political is personal and underneath the surface of the political argument of ‘guns are good’ or ‘guns are bad’ sits the want and need for all human beings to feel safe and protected (in whatever way they define it as). That’s the most interesting bit to wrestle with as individuals and question politically.

CM: Last time we talked to you, we discussed how much of your work is a bit surreal – would you say the same applies here…?
SK: All of my work has a gooey metaphorical centre. I’ve always struggled to define its specific style and have played with words like heightened, surreal, absurd or hyperreal. I am interested in looking at the world through a bit of a fun-house mirror. We can see the world more honestly when it’s distorted rather than reflected. When it’s reflected, I think things aren’t always engaged with and instead passively confirmed. It’s the difference of an audience nodding and agreeing or feeling and grappling with the juxtapositions of life.

Armadillo is a play about a couple giving up their guns in a world where everyone has one so it’s heightened but not quite as far from our day to day lives as my other plays such as ‘Mumburger’ (a lot of people have guns already and not so many people eat their Mum!).

CM: Can you tell me a bit about the cast of the play?
SK: My oh my do we have the most incredible cast. We’ve got Michelle Fox (‘A Very English Scandal’, BBC1; ‘Translations’, National Theatre) playing Sam, Mark Quartley (‘Vera’, ITV; ‘Another Country’, Trafalgar Studios) playing her husband John and Nima Taleghani (‘Romeo and Juliet’, RSC; ‘Hatton Garden’, ITV) playing Sam’s brother Scotty.

They are so incredibly generous, playful and talented. Every time I watch them, I am utterly astonished. I am constantly learning and discovering new things about the story, characters and my own feelings on the themes of the play because of their talent.

CM: Do you have any further plans for the show, following the run at The Yard?
SK: Not at this moment, but oh universe, I am open to it! My previous plays, ‘Hot Dog’ and ‘Mumburger’ both had American premieres and I’d love to find a home for ‘Armadillo’ in the States too.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
SK: Sara Joyce (the director of ‘Armadillo’) and I are working to find a home for my new play ‘Our Name is Not John’, which we worked together on as part of our year on the Old Vic 12 in 2018. I am also working with director Debbie Hannan on my play ‘Human Suit’ (which was long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize and had a reading at The Yard as part of First Drafts).

Of course alongside watching the absurdity of human behaviour and coming up with new ideas to explore.

‘Armadillo’ is on at The Yard Theatre from 30 May-22 Jun. See this page here for more information and to book tickets.

LINKS: | |