Roger and Bridget Sanders are embarking on a world tour with their distinctly New Zealand children’s theatre show. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Beers, burgers and banter

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Every few weeks we sit down with someone interesting who is doing something interesting. This week we speak with husband and wife duo Roger and Bridget Sanders who have been creating art in Nelson since 2001. Now they are on the cusp of their biggest creative adventure yet – a European tour with their children’s theatre show. They spoke with Nelson Weekly’s Charles Anderson.

What are each of your backgrounds?
Roger: I started off doing storytelling, which didn’t require anybody else. I ended up doing a lot of stuff around the country.
Bridget: I was a visual artist, didn’t get involved in theatre until 2008.  Then we decided to start making work together, primarily creating children’s shows.

How did you come to work together?
Roger: I found the storytelling work was quite lonely. Bridget’s skills really complement mine. We found we could create work where physical  theatre and stories meet with the visual craft of masks and puppets.

So why are you heading off?
Bridget: It is the unknown, an adventure, empty nest syndrome, maybe. Nelson is a great place to base yourself but you have to get out. We have been travelling around with our company for three years and we thought ‘why not go further’. It would be a fun way of doing more with our lives. We are taking our show, Kotuku and the Moonchild, to Europe. It is a distinctly New Zealand story – it has the colours and landscape, paua and pohutakawa. It is a story made here.

What is it like working together as husband and wife?
Roger: It can be full on. We argue a lot but know each other well enough to know not to take it personally.

So where are you going?
Bridget: We are going to England to the Brighton Fringe Festival. Then straight away we drive to Prague and have a week of gigs. Then hopefully Poland, but have to be back in England for a series of smaller festivals, sticking to the south half of England until the end of July and then Melbourne to do some training.

What are some of the challenges of such a trip?
Roger: Not having a reputation is a big one. But the more you do the better known you get. You have to trust the process. If you didn’t go until it was all figured out then you wouldn’t go at all. So you just have to have something and then go and trust that you can fill in the gaps.

Why is it so important?
Roger: I think it’s in your bones. It’s something that, if we aren’t doing it, it feels like something is missing.
Bridget: It’s what we are meant to do. There is something so special about creating something and then sharing it with the world. We perform this work in a lot of schools. Some of these students have never seen a performance before and it’s so gratifying to see them light up with it. That sharing is the biggest thing.