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WWLLD? In Conversation with Lucy and Luke Create.

WW..D? Is an interview segment where we get to know awesome people that are a part of the creative community in New Zealand.

This week we spoke to Lucy and Luke of Lucy and Luke Create. Lucy and Luke are a wicked duo who write, produce and direct their own theatre. Their latest play It Ends With the Sea is about to come out at the Basement Theatre. Read more for What Would Lucy and Luke Create Do? 

1. Who are you and what are roles within Lucy and Luke Create?

Lucy: We don’t hold specific roles all the time, things get shared out from production to production depending on what we’re creating, what we want to do, what we’re best at and who has more free time. For It Ends With the Sea, I wrote the script and am handling the publicity, Luke is directing and we are producing and designing the set and costumes together.

Luke: Lucy & Luke create is our creative partnership, which is essentially a formal version of our friendship. Roles are divided according to the requirements of each project and our individual strengths. In Wild Beasts I was part of the cast as well as assistant director and co-producer with Lucy. This time around I am directing and co-producing.

2. So then what is Kitsch Bitches?

Lucy: Kitsch Bitches is what we wanted to call our company from the outset but we weren’t sure of our niche and didn’t want to alienate anyone, so we called our company Lucy & Luke Create and we call ourselves the Kitsch Bitches.

Kitsch Bitches is an aesthetic, it’s Luke and I as a design duo… it’s an aspirational brand, a lifestyle.

Luke: The Kitsch Bitches are our alter egos. Kitsch Bitches is a brand, an aesthetic, and our shared love of all things fantastic and fabulous.

3. Only in a country as small as New Zealand can we just decide to create something like a theatre company or arts publisher in our instance. When you decided to form Lucy and Luke Create what was behind the decision? 

Lucy: It’s funny how creating a gmail account suddenly makes you a legit company! We wanted to start a company so we could stage the kind of work we most wanted to see—immersive, poetic, experimental, brave. It’s also obviously a great platform for me to have my writing staged. It’s tough as a young writer because very few established companies are willing to take on unproven talent and it’s really hard to become better if you never get a chance to to see your work off the page. Places like The Basement (who are operating as a risk-share venue again for 2015) are amazing for making possible for financially challenged people like ourselves to do something like this!

Luke: I think it was exactly that – seizing the great opportunity we have here to establish ourselves as part of a wider creative community. Working in Auckland, we have had the opportunity to be a part of Short + Sweet & Fringe Festivals, partner with great venues like The Basement and collaborate with a heap of talented people working in the performing and visual arts.

4. Our community is very much built on smallness. Does this pose issues to you? Or even to the sustainabilty of theatre? 

Lucy: Smallness… it hasn’t posed any issues yet because we’re still so grassroots, we’re still doing most of the work ourselves and putting in our own money or using crowdfunding platforms like Pledgeme. We’re so lucky to have such an incredible cast given that we can’t pay them! We wish we could pay them.

Theatre will always be around because there is always a new crop of young guns happy to do a lot of work for love rather than money, but is it sustainable for individuals, long-term? Probably not, or for very few.

Luke: Smallness is something to be embraced; it’s part of our unique arts culture and identity. Anyone working to grow their audiences has to work to actively engage with them, and the aforementioned smallness had proven to be a real advantage for us. Furthermore, if it is an issue, I don’t think it’s one that is isolated to theatre.

5. How is It Ends With the Sea different to anything else we’ve seen before?

Lucy: You don’t just see It Ends With the Sea, you’re inside it. When we say we’re into making immersive theatre, we mean it. Wild Beasts was staged inside a massive tent made of bedsheets, for It Ends With the Sea, we’re bringing the sea inside the theatre—you will hear the sea, you will smell the sea, you will be right there in the shoals. And it’s an all-female cast telling the story of five teenage runaways who squat in an abandoned bach called Castle and form an unhealthy obsession with the sea.

Luke: It Ends With the Sea is a story about magic murder, obsession and the ocean. Lucy’s writing is ethereal and poetic and our cast is composed of five supremely talented actresses bringing the story to life. We are in the business of immersive theatre, and we plan to turn The Basement into the shoals of the sea, building the tumbledown Castle in which the girls squat. A Kitsch Bitches production is like no other.

6.  It Ends With the Sea is your 2nd play, what did you learn the first time and what will you do differently?

Lucy: You know, I remember debriefing after our closing night of Wild Beasts, lying in Luke’s sweltering hot room with one of those star projecters playing on the ceiling, and we had so many pearls of wisdom. If only we’d had the energy or forethought to write them down because we are probably falling into many of the same traps as last Fringe! I learned that I don’t enjoy directing my own writing and that we need to take on more distinct roles and communicate better. Communication is key, if only because it is so annoying to realise you have both spent time doing the same task.

Luke: Wild Beasts was the first play Lucy or I had staged ourselves and the fast-turnover nature of working over the summer to put a production together for The Fringe meant that it was a real crash course for us. We definitely learnt a lot and this time we don’t feel as though we are sailing into uncharted waters. We’ve also developed a lot in our respective roles. I am really excited about stepping into the role of director, especially given that I get to work with such a wonderful script.

7. Your last play Wild Beasts received a review that you didn’t neccesarily agree with. What are the thoughts on the ever contested relationship between artist and critic? 

Lucy: There’s a serious lack of critical culture in NZ and that can make the scene quite petty and insular. I don’t think most reviewers are out to gouge anyone, but it can be hard to take as an artist—particularly as a young one putting their work out there for the first time—it’s hard to read a review that doesn’t acknowledge that context or treat your work with respect, regardless of how good it is.

Like any creative expression, theatre is subjective and that shouldn’t be forgotten when writing or reading a review.

Luke: A strong culture of critique is a hallmark of a healthy theatre community. Audiences are active and essential participants in the play and I think it’s imperative that they form an opinion and engage in dialogue.  We were fortunate enough to receive quite a few reviews, some of them loved it, and others were more tepid. At the end of the day, there’s no accounting for taste…

8. Lastly what advice do you have for other writers/directors/producers?

Lucy: Make things! Find someone who you think has perfect taste and make them your creative/business partner and make a plan with them to make something. Set a date. Having someone who will hold me accountable makes me far more productive, as does having someone who has absolute faith in my talents and whose talents I have absolute faith in. Find that person.

Luke: Get involved with projects that you are passionate about with people who share that passion.

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