In the Worx with Charles Sanders
Adelaide performer Charles Sanders is beginning to collect an assortment of awards for his works with the latest addition of Best in Fringe for Week 2 for Love Child from the Adelaide Critics Circle. He spoke to Alex Dunkin.
Sanders has come a long way from his initial introduction to the theatre at age seven to now be running his own small theatre company Early Worx.
“I was in a musical when I was seven and I kind of got bit by the bug I suppose. I haven’t really considered doing anything else since,” Sanders reminisced.
“It’s waivered as to which exact path; for a while I was going to be a dancer, for a while musical theatre was the thing. The last kind of four years my interest in theatre and political theatre has really developed and theatre…as a tool for at least making people think rather than pure entertainment.”
Sanders has taken to the challenge of trying to secure a balance between the entertainment value of a show and the thought provoking ideas that can be presented.
“For me it is important that we try and promote a culture in some small way where theatre is not just seen as wicked, just for the fun. There are other facets of theatrical experiences to get people thinking and talking about social agendas,” he said.
“Our mission as a company is to promote and produce emerging artists and to be a stepping stone company for them.
“I try to create work that speaks to the spirit of any particular time. I’m not really interested in period drama. So I’m looking through scripts, as well I’m thinking who they might work for, what artists we want to promote, whether [there are] graduates or established artists we want to pair up.”
Sanders highlighted how Love Child is an example of this pairing by established artist Chrissie Page teaming up with emerging artist Anna Cheney to nurture new talent and to see what learning experiences arise from the setup.
“As it turned out it was a two way street as Chrissie is untrained but has worked for a very long time. Anna is a trained actor but very new to the industry.”
The experience and previous work of Page, and the playwright Joanna Murray-Smith also assisted in the promotion of the play during the Fringe season, which was the largest yet.
“I must concede that with Love Child I knew that the Fringe is a hard time for ticket sales because there is so much and I knew that having the name of an incredibly well established playwright in Joanna Murray-Smith on the poster and on all publicity might give people a kind of quality guarantee when watching for what they want to see at the Fringe,” Sanders admitted.
“It’s not my primary concern. We try to be an experimental company in as much as we are not focused on getting a huge subscriber base.
“We are focused on making work that is provocative and sometimes it’s going to be a flop, sometimes it’s going to be a hit and we were so lucky at this Fringe to score three hits. It could have just as easily gone the other way.”
Sanders spoke proudly of the work of his small theatre company in how they are encouraging artists and directors to take a risk in their performances.
“Late last year we had a show called 121 which was an incredible experiment, not particularly successful and that’s okay. I really want to promote a culture within the company that’s okay and directors and performers feel they can take a risk,” he highlighted.
The size of the company has resulted in Sanders stepping off the stage and into other roles within the theatre where he is still able to draw upon the inspirations he finds in current affairs and from other performers.
“Obviously great artists that have come before us inspire me to try and do something in tribute in our day and age to what they have done or are continuing to do,” he said.
Over the next year Sanders’ directorial work will be featuring during several festivals as well as with AC Arts in Adelaide.