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Sarah Richardson's Sun Bear residency experience

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Gothenburg Fringe 2023 in review – Sarah Richardson’s residency and performance of Sun Bear

Playwright and performer Sarah Richardson took part in a month-long residency hosted by Gothenburg Fringe in May to develop her theatre show Sun Bear, funded by the European Festivals Fund for Emerging Artists.

A one-woman dark comedy, Sun Bear, explores the lasting effects of emotionally abusive relationships within the backdrop of office life. Having presented a digital version of the piece in 2020, I used the residency to reimagine the piece for a live audience, as originally intended.

Through hosting workshops with local dancers in Gothenburg to combine movement and spoken word, I was inspired by this work to introduce my poetry into Sun Bear and as a result the script was rewritten to push the possibilities of combining spoken word and theatre and using different storytelling techniques to convey the message.

Given time, space and creative freedom, I used the residency to develop the performance of the piece as well as the text, playing with audience interaction, the emotional journey and impact of the show. The residency really allowed me to delve into what she wanted to say and how she wanted to connect with an audience while exploring such a raw and hard-hitting topic.

Sarah Richardson's performances of Sun Bear at Gothenburg Fringe 2023 | Photos: Uros Hocevar and Marcio Menino

Also during the residency, I visited both FinFringe and Zagare Fringe, where I was massively inspired by the extraordinary work and the artists I connected with. As an artist myself, these experiences have continued to influence my work and career as I challenge how and what I create.

After the residency, I returned to Gothenburg to perform Sun Bear as a part of Gothenburg Fringe. With full houses and winning the “Simply the Best” award and being nominated for three other awards, it was clear how impactful and instrumental the developmental experience that the residency provided was.

Sarah Richardson's performance of Sun Bear at Gothenburg Fringe 2023 | Video: Marcio Menino

We were thrilled to welcome Sarah to Gothenburg and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to host as our first resident artist.

Thank you to Kolgruvan and Balletakademin for their collaboration, to FinFringe and Zagare Fringe for joining us in this project and to the European Festivals Association for their support and selecting this project in the very first EFFEA Call. We are delighted to share that we have received funding for the second call and will host circus artist Zinnia Oberski in 2024, alongside Reykjavik and Zagare Fringe Festivals, for a residency titled ‘Dreams of the Small Gods’.

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