Mike Bartlett’s sharp witted play Love Love Love spans decades as it examines the baby boomer generation and its legacy.
One of the major themes is change and the discoveries that brings but that really is just the surface layer because, as Caldwell says, Bartlett has a lot to say. “He prods and pokes at the baby boomer generation, and their children, exploring their responsibility (or lack of) for the world as we know it. He knows relationships, and investigates them keenly.”
In her first role for 2105, Red Stitch Artistic Director and Ensemble Member, Ella Caldwell, plays Sandra, an idealistic and impulsive young woman, at least when we first meet her in 1967. Caldwell’s character wants to change the world and she wants to have a lot of fun doing it.
The play follows the relationship between Sandra and Kenneth (played by fellow Red Stitch Ensemble member Paul Ashcroft) as they negotiate the tricky space between dreams and responsibilities. What Caldwell finds particularly engaging is the way the play explores how we deal with disappointment in ourselves and others.
Studying creative arts at Melbourne University, and doing Fringe theatre, Caldwell first auditioned for Red Stitch when the company was first founded in 2001 and has been an ensemble member ever since. A then 19 year old Caldwell considers herself lucky to have ‘gotten in’ and beaten many of the 300 odd actors auditioning that day.
Red Stitch was itself seeking a new frontier with its ensemble based acting troupe in a city that was crying out for artistic input at the time. Planets were aligned for Red Stitch and Caldwell with both having achieved major accolades, awards and recognition.
Caldwell’s genesis moment happened at the age of 5 when she knew she loved acting and wanted to spend her life in theatre.
“I was part of a children’s theatre group (in the little town of Candelo on the far south coast of NSW where I grew up). I was one of the youngest, and I loved every second of it. We were lucky to have a very active local arts society. I had the opportunity to do a lot of plays throughout my child hood and teenage years, and my parents were very encouraging – my mum would drive us to the nearest city (Canberra) to see Bell Shakespeare productions from a young age. Later I got a drama scholarship to attend high school in Melbourne, and I remember a particular Keene/Taylor production with Marco Chiappi at Playbox Theatre that blew my mind.”
Caldwell has made a significant contribution to the world of acting both on the stage and TV with Blue Heelers springing immediately to mind under the banner of the latter. For Red Stitch Caldwell began in their first play Extremities with performances of note including: The Laramie Project – 10 Years Later, ROAM, Stop. Rewind, Yellow Moon, The Little Dog Laughed and Dirty Butterfly.
In 2013, Caldwell was, of course, given the honour of being voted in by her peers as Red Stitch Artistic Director. She follows David Whiteley’s incredible contribution of almost a decade.
So it is a busy time for Caldwell as she juggles the responsibility of running a theatre company (her Artistic Director responsibilities mostly get fulfilled at a computer in the middle of the night) and rehearsing full time for Love Love Love,
But, in general, Caldwell spends a lot of time reading plays, answering emails, and dreaming big!
“Every Tuesday night the Red Stitch Ensemble and staff meet to discuss, debate and explore where the company is going – both that week and long term. One of my favourite parts of being Artistic Director is being involved in the journey of each production, and seeing each creative team work through their challenges and realise their vision.”
Caldwell has achieved much and, with still much more to achieve, she and her Love Love Love character Sandra, are walking the same road of change.
Love Love Love
June 5 – July 4