A peek behind LUST’s curtains

- in Föreningen, In English

Lund is full of all kinds of student organizations: Unions, nations, sports associations. On this occasion Lundagård meets Kleia Sidira, member and foreperson at AF’s international theater group, LUST, to find out what goes on behind each show.

– There’s always something in LUST. It’s not just one production per semester and you’re done, there’s always things to do.

Kleia Sidira, the foreperson at LUST’s (Lunds Studentteater) board, has been a part of the organization since spring 2021. When she meets Lundagård for an interview, she’s sitting at an office full of props from last semester’s main production, “Quotidien”.

The organization has been a part of Akademiska Föreningen (AF) since the 1980s, but it has been doing theater since the 1920s, where it began as a group within Lund University.

– It used to be LNS, Lunds Nya Studentteater, for a while and I think people didn’t really like that so we switched to Lunds Studentteater, and then to shorten up it became LUST. And I think it was an inside joke at that point, they were like “oh, it’s gonna be funny if it’s LUST and not LST”. And it also makes it easier to say, explains Kleia Sidira when asked about the organization’s remarkable name.

Kleia Sidira, chairperson of the LUST board at
the theatre group’s offices in AF-borgen.
Photo: Isak Aho Nyman

LUST works the same way as other student organizations. They have a board that works backstage and makes decisions for the organization, and smaller working groups that either help specifically with the different productions or that work through the whole semester, such as makeup or improv. The people on the board get nominated by LUST’s nomination committee and then voted by the members in the member’s meeting held each semester.

The theater group currently has around 30 active members besides the ones on the board, but they work constantly to attract more people to get behind AF’s curtains. Members can do everything from acting to helping out doing makeup or building the different sets for one production. LUST is open when it comes to people joining in: There’s no need to do an interview.

– We don’t really have requirements for helping out, so anyone can join in. We sort of learn in the process, so we have a lot of people that would send us a text like “hey, I have no experience in anything but I could do makeup for one show”. They just come in, do the makeup once, and if they like it, they’ll stay, if they don’t like it, they’ll do something else, Kleia Sidira says.

LUST attends Hälsningsgillet, or the Student Association’s Fair (SAF), in order to get people involved in the group theater. They participate in Kulturnatten to get more audience, and they hold different introductory events at the beginning of the semester. They also have collaborations with Kalmar Nation amongst others. Kleia Sidira explains that Kalmar’s Nation has helped them a lot because of their international group, a characteristic that LUST shares.

The theater group draws the attention of every type of student. When asked about their member’s academic interests, Kleia Sidira explains:

– I’ve noticed that there’s always quite a few people that study English in some capacity, I study English for example. I guess it’s because theater in English, like Shakespeare for example, it’s quite prominent in our program so it always draws people to actually act in it and see it on stage. We have a lot of LTH students, we have students from all kinds of programs and courses. I don’t think that there’s any program that’s more prominent than others. I’ve realized the other day that Lund’s University has a program for dramaturgy but we don’t really have a lot of people that study dramaturgy that come to LUST.

Our actors are so, so good at what they do and we all learn together.

In case of help needed LUST post an announcement on social media. The auditions are posted through Studentlund’s website to get widely spread so that there’s always new actors in each production. Auditions are only held for acting positions and they vary in form.

– We’ve had monologue auditions, and chemistry auditions, where you bring in the different actors that are auditioning and you ask them to read a scene from the play to see how they interact together so that their chemistry is believable.

The only requirement to join the group theater is to be a part of Studentlund, either as a student or as “friend of AF”, which is people that pay to get access to Studentlund’s different services.

LUST has one main production per semester, which is usually a show. Everyone gets to submit a play they like to vote on during the member’s meeting. They say how many people are needed, cast sizes, and if it’s free, public domains or if it’s copywriters that have to be paid to perform it. Kleia Sidira explains that there’s not a limitation in what can be done on stage.

– We’ve done some pretty heavy plays in the past. I think our members are generally very open about things and if there’s something problematic in a play we fix it somehow. (…) I don’t think we’ve had a play where someone said “absolutely not, we’re not doing that!”, explains Kleia when asked about past performances.

One of LUST’s recurring mascots. Tucked under its
right wing it holds a plaque reading “To quack or
not to quack.” Photo: Isak Aho Nyman

LUST is open to imagination: the plays can either be existing plays or originals.

– Last semester’s production was a member’s play. It was written by my predecessor, the former foreman, Kadin Tucker. It was his own play, and everyone at LUST really liked it and we performed it. It was actually a sitcom that took place on stage, Kleia says with enthusiasm.

Even when the production is over, there’s still members working in LUST, eager to learn more about their passion, or just wanting to hang out with their fellow partners.

– We could be doing a lot of things. We could be writing something for next semester, we’ve just had improv nights where we just get together and improv and just learn how to do different theater techniques. We have a lot of workshops.

When asked about feedback that they have gotten, Kleia brings up one specific encounter.

– We did a little show at an elderly care home, and I remember one of the people there. She came up to us afterwards and she was like “you could see your eyes sparkle when you do theater”. And that was probably the best thing I’ve ever heard about us doing theater in general.

The only thing Kleia Sidira would like to improve from LUST is to be able to do licensed plays, which she explains are the only type of play they don’t perform for budget’s matters.

– I think our organization is, and specially our actors are so, so good at what they do. We all learn together so much that having plays that are licensed and that, I guess, are even more well known, would help them and help us get even better at what we do. Especially because licensed plays often have requirements about the stage directions and set and things, so that would give us more of a challenge. And I think LUST thrives in challenging conditions.

This article was first published in Lundagård no. 1 2024.