Posted by Cecile Lucas, March 23rd, 2017
Direct from its recent premiere at Perth International Arts Festival, Maybe ( ) Together’s participatory performance Small Voices Louder is all set to hit the road for a Regional tour across Western Australia next week. Taking part in this adventure is performer and anthropology graduate Zoe Street, whose first experience as Stage Manager has shed some light on a new career opportunity. I managed to catch up with Zoe just before she heads off to find out more about what this first experience has brought to her.
Cecile – Small Voices Louder is your first experience as Stage Manager, how did you become involved and what are some of the challenges that you are facing?
It’s all about timing… I put my skills up for grabs when Performing Lines WA was on the look out for someone who was the right fit for the project. After a fairly unconventional job interview in a room full of bright yellow tents I found myself stage managing for the first time at PIAF with a show that I fell in love with on sight, so I guess I was the one for the job.
I’d say the biggest challenge would probably be getting to know the ins and outs of our wondrous set. The set is made of eight tents with a maze of paths connecting them and inside each tent there are miniature worlds. It’s all rather magical. However behind the magic there is an intricate tent construction process that involves arranging wooden frames with their matching inner layers, outer layers and bases, and a numerous array of peculiar props that bring the tents to life. After this season at PIAF I can call myself a cubby maintenance professional and the next big challenge will be taking it on the road.
Small Voices Louder is also quite different from the other productions you previously worked on, what do you like about it? Does that inspire you to pursue work in more participatory projects?
Working on participatory performance projects was new to me so I loved observing the active exchange that occurs in the space. The work relies on responses from the participants and that’s what brings it to life and creates an impact on those participating and those who hear the voices in various public spaces. As an anthropology graduate and artist this form of performance just makes sense and since being part of this project I’m left wondering why I didn’t find my way into this type of work sooner. Bring it on!
Next week you will be going on a regional tour with Small Voices Louder’s crew across Western Australia, what are you most excited about?
I’m really excited to get this work out to regional communities and hear what the children have to say about the way they see the world. The work provides a space for kids to think big and believe in their voice and also gives us adults such a startling insight into the wisdom they hold. Hearing the responses from the PIAF participants was very powerful and I’m looking forward to observing the similarities and differences that emerge as rural kids engage in the space. As we go to new places we’ll continue to build on the collection of children’s voices, which can hopefully capture a unique snapshot of the diversity of our state.
Are there any other productions you’d love to stage manage? Or any Artistic Directors you would love to work with?
Oh man this is hard, there are so many artists and companies I admire out there! Close to home pvi collective and Big Hart are two of my favourites. But I’m just going to go for gold here and say Bryony Kimmings and her current work The Boys Project would be a dream for me to be involved in. I saw Bryony’s work Fake It Til You Make It in 2014 and I left that show inspired and energised, so I always follow her work.
The Boys Project is a three year multi-platformed art activism project that works with young men from council estates in England. The project consists of a social campaign, theatre piece, education initiative and documentary, and this process of engaging with communities to integrate performance with social change initiatives is the type of work I believe in and would love to throw my energy into.
Do you have a favourite or most memorable experience from your career so far you would like to share with us?
I did a project a few years back where I interviewed Vietnam Veterans for a self devised show I wrote and performed called Speak to Me of War. I will always remember the camaraderie I felt as they invited me into their community and the generosity those men showed in openly sharing their experiences with me. It was such a privilege to hear their stories and I will always treasure that.
What do you have coming up after Small Voices Louder’s tour?
There are a few things in the works at the moment, but nothing I can really talk about just yet. I will say that I’m really keen to move in the direction of community arts work and socially engaged arts practice and see what that world has to offer. It’s all pretty new to me so I have some exploring to do but I’m drawn to projects that integrate social change initiatives with performance and participatory art.