Vault Festival preview: Sticky Door

Welcome to this preview from the Vault Festival 2020.

Sticky Door runs at the Cage from 11-16 February at 6pm, with a chance to see the other shows in the It’s a Girl trilogy on 16 February. I asked writer/performer Katie Arnstein to tell me a bit more about it.

Bicycles and Fish. Courtesy The Vaults.
Bicycles and Fish. Courtesy The Vaults.

1. Was Sticky Door conceived as the final show in the “It’s a Girl’ trilogy from the start?

It wasn’t. Writing for me has been a very gradual process. Bicycles and Fish (part 1) a started at a scratch night piece that was 20 minutes long and i thought that was such hard work I couldn’t imagine writing anything else. I am grateful to the people who encouraged me to keep going like Redbridge Drama Centre who gave me the space to develop it, Daniel Goldman who directed the first show and VAULT Festival for taking a risk and programming it. Once Bicycles and Fish did nicely at VAULT I thought I could mmmmaaaayyybbbbeee think of another hour of content (that became Sexy Lamp) and now we have a trilogy, which feels very special. I hope the shows fit together nicely but stand alone as individual pieces.

2. The premise of finding a man a month feels like a fascinating subject for humour and self-exploration. Where did the idea come from?

I set myself this goal in 2014 when I felt really out of control of many aspects of my life. I wasn’t getting any acting work, I had just left a bad part time job, I was living in a terrible flat above a chicken shop and I thought I would try and take back some control (like the leave campaign. And like the leave campaign I was lying to myself and those around me). Through doing it I learnt a lot but one of my main take aways, that surprised me, is how much easier I found it communicating about sex with a stranger than I had with previous partners. With the 2014 plan I was able to meet people and say “hello. I would like to do this, this and this, would you like to?”. It meant we had to be really honest and clear and I realised that clarity and honesty was lacking in my previous relationships. 

3. Sticky Door is a quirky entry into the debate on whether mental health issues affect our behaviour. Have you found that exploring this from your own experience has helped you deal with depression?

I keep writing comedies about the side splitting topic of sexism so thought, why not my battle with mental health too? It has been useful to write about it and has been a real journey dealing with it for this show and in life. It still comes back but I feel lucky that when it comes back, I recognise it and am mostly able to deal with it. In the process of writing about it Ellen Havard who directs Sexy Lamp and Sticky Door has been incredible. Depression is a part of this story because it is a part of my story. I am delighted with how we present it in the show.

Sexy Lamp. Image courtesy Omnibus Theatre.
Sexy Lamp. Image courtesy Omnibus Theatre.

4. Can you give audiences who come to either Sticky Door or the whole trilogy an idea of what to expect?

Sticky Door and the whole trilogy use storytelling, comedy and song to discuss the 24/7 lol fest of sexism. You can expect a good time, to be looked after and you get a free sweet (three if you come on trilogy day). I hope that these shows are enjoyable and empowering whilst giving you something to think about afterwards. If you can make it to see the show on a cold February night, I’d love to have you there!

5. Is this now the end for this story, and if so, what might you write about next?

This feels like the right place to leave this story. I have had such a phenomenal time creating it and had such a brilliant team that I know it wont be the last piece I make but this feels like the right place to leave this part. I hope to keep creating semi and autobiographical work but also am looking forward to seeing what our next adventure might be. Whatever it ends up being it will be feminist, for that is the future. 

Sticky Door. Courtesy The Vaults.
Sticky Door. Courtesy The Vaults.

My thanks to Katie for her time and answers. You can book for Sticky Door, Bicycles and Fish, and Sexy Lamp at the Vault Festival website.