Interview: Sarah Berger

Sarah Berger is the Executive Producer of The EverHopefull Rep Season, featuring artists age 18 - 80, she has also directed the play 'American Venus' for it. I caught up with Sarah last week to discuss roles for women over 40 in theatre, her work and the Ever HopeFull season.

1. Hi Sarah, thanks for speaking with FemaleArts today. First of all, please could you tell us a little about you and your work?

I have been an actress for 35 years, working with the Royal Shakespeare company, doing 6 West End shows, numerous tv jobs and films. I have always been interested in directing and producing and once my son graduated from university and film school I thought it was time to throw my bonnet over the windmill and develop that side of my career using all the skills I had developed as a working actress over the years.

2. And what was the inspiration behind Ever HopeFull?

The inspiration for Ever HopeFull was to build on the success of last years HopeFull Rep season, which was nominated for three offies. This time I wanted to concentrate on telling the stories of people (particularly women) over 40. I have put together four very different plays ranging from a very black comedy The House to Mercy a play about loss, This Thing Called Love a sexy middle aged story and the true tale of silent film actress Louise Brooks when she was older and the spotlight had faded.

3. What do you feel the key problems are with the representation of women over 40 in theatre?

I think the key problem for women over 40 in theatre is that just as in the rest of society they start to become invisible. People seem to feel that they are no longer of interest and that the story of their lives is somehow curtailed. The already narrow spectrum of female experience represented on stage becomes thinner still, and they are not represented as fully rounded human beings with lives, loves, tragedies and achievements. Ironically the more you have to offer in terms of experience and the development of talent the less opportunity there is for you to illustrate this.

4. And it's far worse in film and the media, isn't it?

Actually I don't think its far worse, I think the fascism about physically ageing is worse but the dearth of interesting stories or recognition of the later parts of a woman's journey is not dissimilar across all media.

5. What would you like to see change in this respect, over the next ten years?

I would like to see women being allowed to age in public. I would like the arts to catch up with the fact that women are hugely creative throughout their lives, not just when they are young and beautiful. I would like to see as many older women as possible leading the charge and championing the portrayal of women of all ages. This would involve more women writers, producers, commissioners and directors as well as performers.

6. What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing Ever HopeFull?

I hope that people will see that older people are full of wit, warmth and passion. I hope that the stories we are telling in our four very different plays will illustrate the breadth of human experience that goes on until your dying day. I also think audiences will enjoy watching highly experienced directors and performers working alongside younger newer artists, interacting and learning from one another.

7. What has been your process so far in creating this work?

All of the four plays have been through the So and So Arts Club rehearsed reading process. We audition and cast each reading, and the performers rehearse with a director for two days before performing a staged reading of the play in front of an invited audience. This fringe repertory season will be the next stage in developing the work. I am proud to say that in all 50 artists are involved in the project.

8. Where and when can we see it?

The season starts on August 31st and runs till September 27th at 6 Fredericks Place London EC2R 8AB in a pop up venue we have built specially for the season. Every day there are two separate plays performed at 7 and 9 and on Fridays and Saturdays three. Full details of all performances and some of the additional events are available at www.everhopefullrep.com

9. And where can we follow you and your work online / on social media?

You can follow me and the season at www.thesoandsoartsclub.com, www.everhopefullrep.com and @soandsoartsclub
Interview (C) Amie Taylor 2015

Author's review: 
0