Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
I am early to Raglan Roast so I can have a coffee and watch a sitting of lovE leTTer BOnanZA before I jump in and experience it myself. There are multiple colourful typewriters on the large wooden table in the middle of the cafe space. Starke makes their way around the cafe asking people if they’d like to join, making herself and the piece known and welcoming, before she sits with her new class and they begin working.
I love performance art and having done it myself I find myself preferring the kind that inhabits our world instead of us having to go into its. I enjoy performance art as a kind of ‘pinball machine in the corner’ which you can enter and exit seamlessly without having to psych yourself up between changing spaces. That being said, Raglan Roast is the perfect venue for lovE leTTer BOnanZA as I can imagine that in a more clinical or bespoke cafe that patrons might find Katja’s inquiring awkward. At Raglan Roast it fits right in.
Starke is a warm spirit and professional love letter writer- YES they exist and YES people need them! When I joined in there was still someone from the session before enjoying their letter writing. There were enough typewriters to go around and in her opening spiel Starke mentions that we aren’t going to be aiming for the same deadlines on letter writing so if it takes you longer than an hour you’re more than welcome to keep writing! The piece consistently demonstrates its user-friendliness and Starke communicates well and floats freely between people, conversations and instructions.
There is not much I can offer this production in terms of constructive criticism as the show is perfect in its simplicity. You sit at a typewriter, Starke shows you how to use it, you get spare paper if you want, pencils to draft the letter with, as much time as you want. Stronger theatrical themes were found in conversations about the task: how mistakes are inevitable but that doesn’t mean the letter is ruined, the tangibility and weight of typing on a typewriter instead of onto the screen of a phone, the perfect balance of pressure to put on each key to not have them press too lightly or too heavily on the paper. Each element to the task evokes deeper thought to how we interact with those we love, how often and how little, the care we take and the care we should have taken.
Take yourself to this show because it’s easy, because it’s beautiful, and because you should be reminded of who you love and how you love them. When was the last time you wrote a letter, anyway?
lovE leTTer BOnanZA has unfortunately had to cancel their final day of workshops due to the weather. Find more information about the company and their projects on their Facebook page.