Siobhan O’Loughlin’s upcoming performance of Broken Bone Bathtub won’t be the first play to ever be performed in an apartment.
But it’s the first time we’ve heard of an entire play performing in a bathtub.
Indie theater and film company Elephant Run District is bringing Broken Bone Bathtub to a neighborhood apartment near you — the exact address will be shared with ticket holders — this coming weekend, Thursday December 10 – Saturday December 12. While a bathroom provides space for a very limited audience, there will be 7:00pm and 9:00pm performances each night.
Brooklyn-based writer, performer, activist, and award-winning playwright Siobhan O’Loughlin has been touring her show internationally, and we’re looking forward to having it splash down into our neighborhood. The show has graced the bathtubs of Japan, the U.K., as well as throughout the United States.
It’s rare to be part of an audience in such an intimate experience. And we really do mean intimate. Audience sizes will range from 6-8 people, so it’s best to get your tickets very fast.
The play takes place after a young woman experiences a serious bike accident. She musters up the courage to ask for help, and shares her story in the search for healing. The story explores themes of trauma, suffering, human generosity and connection. Lies, truths, and gory details (literally) emerge as the audience assists the cast-clad artist in the actual ritual of taking a bath.
O’Loughlin is a Moth Story Slam Champion, a founding member of the Australian/American storytelling conglomerate Everything is Everywhere, a published playwright with Indie Theatre Now, and trained with Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. She has also created three full-length solo shows, all of which have toured nationally across the United States, and globally throughout the U.K., Ireland, Japan, and the Philippines.
We took some time to speak with O’Loughlin about the development of this production, what it’s like to perform internationally in a bathtub, and … bath bubbles.
PSS: Thanks for taking some time to talk with us, Siobhan. Clearly, we have an intimate production on our hands. Had you always envisioned this production taking place in the bathtub of an actual apartment?
Siobhan O’Loughlin: Yes! I wrote this show (on paper) while I was in recovery from a bike accident where I broke my left hand. In order to avoid ruining my cast in the shower, I was borrowing friends’ bathtubs because I didn’t have one of my own.
I sat with my good friend and theater critic at Don’t Tell Mama in the Theater District one day, still in my cast — telling him about my generous friends, and he said, “It’s like you’re doing a bathtub tour.” And I thought…what if?
You’ve worked in more “traditional” theatrical spaces before. What adjustments does an actress make when the relationship between actress and audience changes so much?
This has been such an exciting opportunity for me to go from traditional stage to…tub. That being said, solo performance (what I do!) is really audience-dependent.
Even when you have an actual stage, the audience is still your scene partner. You look at them, you rely on them, you need their reactions and responses and presence in order to give your story life.
Doing an experimental, super close-contact performance is just a huge magnitude of that. At the end of the day, storytelling is never a solo act — and the listener is a cherished part.
You’ve performed this productions all over the world. How has the production adjusted over time as you present it in different cultural spaces?
Sometimes I feel like I’m researching different communities based on the experience I have in their bathtubs. In Japan, we had subtitles projected against the wall, so the performance couldn’t be conversational (because we don’t speak the same language!) instead, we relied on physical contact to communicate to each other.
In England, people felt especially humbled and sometimes overly anxious by the communication. English people, however, are probably overall more comfortable with nudity than Americans are — though that varies, too. (L.A.? No problem. Minneapolis? Um, what do you mean she’s naked in a bath?!)
In Ireland, I learned about the people and how to relate to them — sarcasm. Biting humor. Sincerity about the very present sense of melancholy. Every performance has been a wonderful gift.
Any good “war stories” from performances you’d to share? Performing a one-woman show in bathrooms throughout the world is begging for a documentary.
I want everyone to know that I am covered with bubbles during the show. (Donated by The Body Shop!) However, one night in an old Hollywood apartment, the water drained during the performance. I joked with the audience and told them that they might be getting more of a show than they were meant to, and the audience completely embraced the moment — some people even took off their shirts later in support.
On the Isle of Man, I performed at the home of a couple who own a record company. I performed upstairs in the bathroom while a concert went on downstairs. It was wonderful. There are so many gems and joys to trying something that just requires enough people to say “yes.”
What’s next up for you?
Performing this show for a solid month in January! (If you can’t get tickets for the rest of December — don’t worry! We’ve got plenty more shows ahead!)
After that, I’ve got a site specific theater festival in Australia I’m hoping to be part of!
The Rundown: Broken Bone Bathtub, a one-woman show written and performed by Siobhan O’Loughlin.
Where: Once a ticket has been purchased for a performance, the exact location will be provided by the producers.
When: Thursday, December 10 – Saturday, December 12. Two performances each night at 7:00pm and 9:00pm. The show will last one hour.
Admission: Tickets are $23, available for purchase here.