Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Sh!t Theatre: Letters To Windsor House

By | Published on Tuesday 24 January 2017

It’s no secret that we are super-fans of Sh!t Theatre, aka the pairing of Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit, and even gave them an award that time. So of course we were delighted to see that they’d be doing a run at Soho Theatre of their latest fringe hit, ‘Letters To Windsor House’, which has been much praised for its take on the housing crisis.
I wanted to find out more about Louise and Rebecca, and I wanted to find out more about the show, so I made time for a quick chat.

CM: Can you start by giving us an idea of the content and format of the show?
LM&RB: It’s a comedic documentary performance- a real life detective show about the London housing crisis. With songs and dancing postboxes.

CM: What can audiences expect?
LM&RB: Adult babies, dodgy landlords and some home truths, man.

CM: What made you want to pursue this topic and bring it to the stage?
LM&RB: We’ve lived together in London rental flats for six years, and in our most recent dodgy abode we started receiving huge volumes of mail for old tenants- even more than the London norm. We got curious about their lives and decided to investigate…

CM: Did you do a lot of research, then, to create the show?
LM&RB: Yes we did, about eighteen months of research, stalking, workshops, under cover filming and watching our area of London change rapidly.

CM: Would you say that what you discovered – about dodgy landlords and the like – was frightening for you, given that you were tenants yourselves?
LM&RB: Yep, one time the show was in TimeOut and that day the landlord called. He never calls, and we were so sure he’d found out about the show and was going to chuck us out. Luckily it turns out he’s not really into fringe theatre.

CM: Do you think anything can be done to slow the process of gentrification, or minimise its impact?
LM&RB: Glad you asked. Obviously protection of council housing in all areas of London, so no more rich ghettos are created. Something should be done about the huge number of empty buildings in the capital – nobody needs to be homeless with the volume of empty space. Even the queens estate owns millions of pounds worth of property that has been empty in Central London for years. New builds affordable housing deals need to be lower than 80% or market rate, as that’s still largely unaffordable for most. Buy to let should end. Government should invest in building more council housing in London, building up or out – there are 5 times as many people living in the same size area of Paris as in London, and Paris is still pretty nice, right?

CM: How grim do you think the future is looking, property-wise, for generation rent, and subsequent generations?
LM&RB: Labour don’t look like they’ll be anywhere near power for years, and ideologically the current government are opposed to the sort of things we think might help, so…we’re all moving to Canada?

CM: You’ve had a lot of critical acclaim for this show (as well as previous shows). Do you have plans to keep performing it? What about previous works? Will they make a comeback?
LM&RB: Yes, we are off on tour after the Soho run. Except we are not going back to Belfast because they said to us that even artists live in palaces there, so the audience just wouldn’t get it. Previous works will make a comeback for the right price or the right location (Hawaii you say? Yes please). And we are working on a new show about Dolly Parton.

CM: Now, can we go back a bit – how did you two meet and end up working together? How did you know it would work?
LM&RB: We met at Queen Mary University of London, where you are taught to be homosexual or at least to pass convincingly. We knew it would work because we had no safety net so it sort of had to, but we will never know for sure

CM: Did you always want to perform?
LM&RB: Louise did, Becca wanted to be a nun. Louise’s mum wanted her to work with animals and she is still disappointed even though there are plenty of cat pics in this show.

CM: What steps did you each take in forging an artistic career?
LM&RB: See above re no safety net. That was advice from Peggy Shaw. She also told us to steal from white people.

CM: How does your creative process work? Do you always ‘create’ together or do you do bits separately and then share?
LM&RB: What’s that about Cher?? We love Cher. Thanks for asking, we would love to work together with Cher!

CM: What do you each do when you are not working together? Do you work on other projects?
LM&RB: Yes, Louise is a composer and lighting designer and Becca works for minimum wage and makes her own work from time to time.

CM: How important is it to you to maintain a political context to your work? Does it always have elements of humour?
LM&RB: Both are very important to us. Everyone we admire combines the two.

CM: What ambitions do you have for Sh!t Theatre in the future?
LM&RB: We’re going to make a massive musical called ‘Evita Too’. It’s such a good idea that louise is worried about telling you in case someone steals it.

CM: What do you have coming up next?
LM&RB: Run at the Soho of ‘Letters’, then a tour in the spring of the UK, and we are going to San Francisco with it as well. We are also going to try and go to Dollywood as ‘research’. And at some point we have to bash out another hit play.

‘Letters To Windsor House’ is on at Soho Theatre from 31 Jan-11 Feb, see all the info on the venue website here.

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