Where you are-
Where you make it-
Where you want to be-
Where the heart is-
Many sayings. Many beliefs. Many definitions. Many clichés…
But no matter how (cynically) you may want to look at it, Home, or a sense of it – a sense of comfort, safety, understanding, BELONGING – is important. It is human. It is animal. It is REAL.
Director Janie Gibson, and PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, and the Tantrum Trajectory Ensemble, are all joining forces and bringing their artistic ‘families’ together under one roof to explore and express what it means to feel at Home, in its many varied iterations-
Janie, let’s get the barrage of Home questions fired at you first!
What is Home to you?
Through working on this show I have discovered that Home to me is the people that you love and the deepest sense of belonging can be found by being seen, accepted and loved for who you are. Although throughout life this search for belonging is a journey and often a struggle, a process of finding, losing and finding connection again.
Where is Home to you?
My physical home at the moment is Melbourne. I have lived there for 2 years, but it still feels new! Ultimately, I feel most at home when I am making theatre in an environment that I love.
Who is Home to you?
Home for me would be my family and good friends.
What is the importance of Home?
I think ‘home’ and an experience of belonging in a place or community is one of the deepest human needs.
The production intertwines a variety of different voices mediums – songs, poetry, written word, mythology. Did all this come together in the end to form a singular narrative, or will we be entreated to more of a smorgasbord effect?
This work is a collection of personal stories, music and poetry by eleven emerging artists from Newcastle and the surrounding regions. Rather than follow a singular fictional narrative, the artists have been drawing on the raw material of their own lives to create a tapestry of original pieces. Those stories are supported by ensemble theatre work from the other actors, and an impressive original sound design by Huw Jones.
The final work is composed and delivered more like a piece of music – based on the principles of rhythm, timing, harmony, dissonance and dynamics.
You’re working here with Tantrum’s Trajectory Ensemble, Newcastle – a program focused on the development of emerging artists. How have you found working with your current crop of emerging artists?
The eleven artists in the Trajectory Ensemble have been extraordinary to work with. They bring boundless energy and enthusiasm into the room. I have felt very privileged to be working with such a committed and creative group of young people, and to be supporting them to create what they want – which is engaging and meaningful theatre.
What support or guidance did you receive along the way during your early artistic years?
Early in my career I was fortunate enough to work with some wonderful mentors who taught me how to make my own work and how to develop my own practice as a theatre maker. I myself was involved in an emerging artists ensemble at PACT theatre here – very similar to Tantrum’s Trajectory program – and fortunately, I have subsequently found great mentors through every stage of my career.
You’ve worked locally and abroad, i.e. Poland, and the USA – is there anything significant that stands out for you in working methodologies and/or outcomes, between here and there, and…there? Are you looking to bring anything in particular you saw, experienced, or learnt overseas into your Australian theatre-making endeavours?
In both Poland and the U.S.A I worked and trained with two leading theatre companies – Song of the Goat Theatre (Poland) and Shakespeare & Company (U.S.A). With these companies I deepened my understanding of the function of theatre and learnt some powerful approaches to working with ensemble theatre, music and text. Certainly, these theatre traditions I practiced overseas are little known here, but I’m hoping to change that by starting my own company in Australia!
Storytelling is a form of education in itself – in communicating to, and sharing with others, what we have learnt, what we have struggled with, and what we’re questioning…
How have you found the more direct role of ‘educating’, via mentoring and directing Tantrum’s Trajectory Ensemble? Does the role of a mentor sit comfortable with you?
I have loved mentoring the artists in the Trajectory ensemble. And they have been really receptive to the processes I have offered them. I have readily been able to train them in my approach to making theatre and collaboration. There is give and take.
I see the role of a mentor or teacher as someone who must be of service to the students. Often during this process, I have asked myself, “How can I best serve these artists today? What do they need?”
What makes a good mentor in your opinion?
In my opinion, a mentor or teacher is not someone who holds the knowledge and then passes this knowledge onto the student, but is more of a guide and a facilitator for the learning process. Successful learning is a reciprocal exchange in which both the teacher and student are engaged in an active process of discovery. This for me is the most powerful way to lead and to teach – especially in a creative process encouraging artists to trust in their own creative impulses.
Your life involves travel and consistently moving from project to project. The life of an artist – traditionally nomadic. You have even stated yourself regarding your early years that, originally: “As a young artist I swiftly left Newcastle at the age of 18 to seek better opportunities in the big smoke of Sydney.” Over the years, have you found ways to set up roots for yourself? To form solid foundations – a ‘home base’ of sorts? Are you beginning to ‘settle’…?
I spent about 6 years travelling, living between Australia and Poland or Australia and the U.S.A. About 3 years ago, whilst I was in the U.S.A I suddenly had the need to return to Australia and put down roots and begin to build my life here with a more solid foundation.
So, what’s next in line for you on the ‘job card’ of the customary artistic gypsy life slash career?
Next on the cards for me is setting up my own theatre company, and working out the best place to do that!
And, just to really drill the point home – a ‘recall’ of an earlier question and answer:
“What is the importance of Home?
I think ‘home’ and an experience of belonging in a place or community is one of the deepest human needs.”
4 – 7 Oct 2017
Theatre Company: Tantrum Youth Arts in collaboration with PACT