An interview with playwright Lu Bradshaw

Playwright and director Lu Bradshaw joins Honi to discuss their upcoming show Comfort, Spin, Travel.

Hi Lu! Thank you so much for joining us today. Can you start us off with a little about yourself?

I’m Lu Bradshaw. I’m 22. I’m Originally from Wollongong, but working mostly in Sydney at the moment, and I’m a trans and queer playwright and director.

Can you tell us a little bit about the play Comfort, Spin, Travel?

Comfort, Spin, Travel takes place in a deserted Officeworks in the middle of the night, and our transmasculine protagonist, known only as the performer, is there playing a game called Comfort Spin Travel, designed to test the efficacy or usefulness of wheely chairs.

Through the process of testing these wheely chairs, they start to muse on the idea that trans people are given this responsibility to be patient all the time and tolerant of people being ignorant and always willing to educate and always being the good trans person, and they start to ask questions about how you might measure the usefulness of a person.

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind uniting Officeworks with the complexities of the trans experience?

Comfort, Spin, Travel is actually a game that I made up with my little sister several years ago. I was really drawn to this idea of a game that tests the usefulness of an inanimate object, coupled with the idea that trans people always have to be fighting to be seen as useful in society so that they remain safe.

What was your journey towards getting into writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I’ve got about a million notebooks in my parents’ house full of half-finished short stories from when I was five about fairies and other things. Originally, when I was little, I wanted to be a novelist, but I do not have the stamina to write a novel.

And then I wrote my first play when I was in high school. I actually loved it. I had already been into theatre for a couple of years by that point, and then I wrote a few more plays and I studied theatre at university. It’s just a fantastic form. I think there’s something so important and so special about telling a story live and everyone in the room experiencing it together in that same moment, and then after that moment ends, it’s gone.

I think there’s something so beautiful about the impermanence of it.

Your work is being put on as part of World Pride. What does it mean for you to have your work put on during this international showcase?

It feels really surreal, partly because I’m so early in my career, but also as a trans person, this is a story that I’ve kept to myself for quite a while. The fact that I get to share it with people on such a big scale means so much to me.

I hope, with my work, there’s someone in the room, probably a young person, who can see the show and feel heard or understood in a way that I wish I had been as a teenager. That’s my dream for any work that I make, especially queer shows and especially this show. The fact that I have a platform to be able to do that is incredible and I am so privileged.

You’re originally from a small town. What do big events like World Pride mean for queer kids who may not be able to experience them?

I moved to Wollongong for uni, but I’m actually from a really small town south of Canberra, so I’m a proper country kid. Being in the big city making work like this feels incredible. The young person that I was could only dream to be where I am now, and in the same breath, I think that more work needs to be done to get these stories to rural kids.

I would’ve benefited so much from seeing a show like this, or even a show that acknowledged trans people and queer people when I was a kid, and that just wasn’t the stuff that I was seeing in a country town. I think it’s so important that those kids also get access to the kind of shows you see at bigger events.

Your writing has a big focus on the burden of education placed on trans people. What are things cisgender allies can do to relieve that burden, or help recognise that experience?

You know, I don’t, that’s not a question I get asked very often.

I think one thing that happens quite a lot is people see me as a resource for information before they necessarily see me as, like quite a lot of queer people, a person who has some associated trauma with their queer identity. People, when they’re wanting to learn to be allies, approach trans and queer people and just ask whatever question they have without necessarily acknowledging the emotional labour that might go into offering a response.

It’s being aware of stuff like that and being really grateful when people are able to educate you, because it’s not necessarily an easy thing to educate someone on something that’s so personal. Also just ask the queer people in your lives what they need from you. Don’t assume that you are doing a great job just because you want to be doing a great job. Allyship is a continual process. if you have queer people in your life, check up on them and ask them what they need from you.

A very important two-part question: What is your favourite piece of furniture? And what is the piece of furniture with the queerest energy?

My favourite piece of furniture is my bed because I am tired 100% of the time and I can sleep anywhere, but I would prefer to sleep in my bed all the time. If I have a free afternoon, I’m taking a nap.

The queerest piece of furniture… a chaise lounge, like those really cool couches with the dip in them are just so camp. I can imagine queer people lounging on it, looking gorgeous and untouchable.

What can we expect from Lu Bradshaw in the future?

I’m writing a little bit on a project for Arts Lab at Shopfront. It’s called Zest. It’s by Mina Bradshaw, who is my delightful older sister.

I’m just writing stuff and directing stuff. I’m always looking for new projects to do.

I really wanna share this show with people, and especially see trans faces in the audience. If it sounds like something that might relate to you, come check it out. 

You can catch Comfort Spin Travel, presented during World Pride, at Meraki Arts Bar till the 11th of March.