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June 2018 M T W T F S S « May 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30
In 2017, I only published three posts here on the blog, but gee, it was a big year.
In no particular order here are some of the highlights and the lowlights and the lessons and my chosen word to enter 2018.
2017 brought more loss and grief, compounding and highlighting the collection of loss we’ve been buffeted by in the past four years. The second half of 2017 gave us a welcome breather though and we made it nearly six months without having to talk about a funeral. One of my dear friends then lost her uncle just before the end of the year and while this particular death did not directly affect me, it brought all those bubbling feelings to the surface again. As did the parade of #timehop photos of lost loved ones that tend to crop up over Christmas/New Year. Grief is a hungry ocean.
That ocean has taught me a lot in the last few years.
About what I value, who I am and how I want to be in the world and 2017 was no different. In 2017, I continued to be inspired by the work of the Groundswell Project and the importance of conversations about death, dying and grief. I also attended ‘The Future of Death Salon’, an event hosted by Moira Deslandes Consulting in Adelaide, which gave me lots of ideas for hosting conversations within my own community about this and other topics. Brianna Obst and I continued to have meaty conversations exploring our personal relationships to suicide, euthanasia and who owns our lives and our deaths. These conversations and our long creative relationship has planted the seeds for a new play that I plan to begin work on in 2018.
Losing Faith in Unicorns
In the first couple of weeks of 2017 things that had seemed so solid at the end of 2016 started to fall apart and everything felt like quicksand. As the Creative Producer I faced the possibility of pulling the plug on a project we’d been working on with a feisty group of teenagers since 2015.
Losing Faith in Unicorns was an immersive theatre experience in a house and we were programmed to present the work as part of the dreamBIG Children’s Festival. We’d secured a house late in 2016 but received the devastating news from the structural engineer that it didn’t pass muster early in 2017. With the clock ticking towards May and the project requiring time for the final purpose-fit design, install and rehearsal, I was freaking out. I rang and emailed well over a hundred individual real estate agents, organizations and other leads. Met dead end after dead end after dead end.
In the throes of my frustration and fear that we weren’t going to pull it off, I said to Nic “If we were in the Riverland, I’d have 5 fucking houses by now.” Because in the Riverland, I’d know who to ask, and the scale of the community means that people are more willing to get involved. Here in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, it mostly felt like shouting into the void. We have lovely, supportive little circles around us here, but the size of the community and it’s particular make-up means that it is so much more difficult to get messages out to the right people. To gather champions and circles of support.
We gave ourselves until the 8th of March to find a replacement house. We secured a house that week. It was owned by someone who lives in the Riverland and the real estate agent I made the initial contact with grew up in the Riverland and moved to Adelaide a few years ago. So there you go – even three hours away – the Riverland came through for me (thank you, thank you, thank you to Kay, Brenton and Tracey!).
So we did it. We created and presented an immersive theatre performance and installation in the very non-traditional space of a suburban house in Christies Beach. The final three general public shows sold out and we received beautiful written feedback like this from audience members:
“I was lucky enough to be in the bathroom when ”Sam” locked the door for the last time for that performance. How brave to lay herself on the line in such a small space. She was brilliant; raw, honest and touching. My daughter’s friend’s mother is dying of brain cancer, and to be able to share Sam’s monologue about her aunt’s death with her has since allowed for some difficult and truthful conversations, and a deepening of mine and my daughter’s relationship with her. This was one of the best pieces of theatre that I have seen. What a great platform for starting those tricky conversations with our teenagers.”
And to cap it all off, Kids Against Humanity and Losing Faith in Unicorns were one of four finalists for the 2017 Arts SA Ruby Awards in the Community Impact under $100,000 category. They didn’t win, but five of the crew attended the awards night and we were in some incredible company alongside the winners – Creating Coonalpyn (of the Coonalpyn Silo fame).
You can see a five minute insight into the project and performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeatjvyJ-P4&list=PL0IRgfhn-sEHdTrvGrdwVdAxTDKjNAUn_&index=6
This project had so much packed into it across its 18month journey. It was challenging and frustrating and joyous and powerful and the project and the young people who led it have taught me so much more than I can encapsulate here. I’m not the same because of it and the way I operate personally and professionally has been shifted and shaken and changed by them. I am supremely grateful to have had the opportunity walk beside them on this journey.
Australian Rural Leadership Program
2017 included another three residential components of the 15month ARLP Program. Due to my prior commitment with LFIU I could not attend the overseas session in Indonesia in May with my cohort (23) but will be joining C24 in May 2018. 2017 included a week in North-East Victoria and a week in Canberra. ARLP has been a massive process for me right from the beginning with the two weeks in the Kimberley in 2016. 2017 ARLP for me saw a deepening of relationships and learning . Lots of fierce (and sometimes) difficult conversations, so much laughter and gratitude, some incredible and inspiring presenters, connections and lessons. It’s been an incredible experience and I am so very aware of what a privilege and a responsibility this investment is in me and my work.
Every participant of ARLP has to complete a written report for their sponsor (mine is the Australia Council) and this is some insight from my current draft:
“I feel that I have been especially lucky to be a participant of ARLP being from an arts background and being one of the younger members of our cohort, Course 23. At only 32, being surrounded and enveloped by our cohort has been incredibly inspiring, especially in the strong and amazing older women of our cohort who have made me feel so excited about what my future can hold and just in the incredible diversity of experience and perspectives across the entire cohort. I have felt like I am accessing this amazing bank of knowledge every time I am in the room with Course 23 and I feel very privileged to have access to that. One of the things that attracted me to ARLP as a leadership program was that it was not arts specific and that I would be participating with individuals from completely different industries and disciplines. This for me, has been one of the greatest benefits of ARLP. To step outside of the sometimes circular debates and conversations that happen in your own industry and be able to learn and reflect by talking and collaborating across industries has been invaluable.”
At the beginning of 2017 I signed up for the Writers SA Manuscript Incubator program. It was a year-long program incorporating a monthly writers group critiquing session and monthly craft workshops for 16writers working on the early draft of a novel. I worked on the early foundations for a novel that has its seeds in a draft play I wrote as part of mentorship with Caleb Lewis way back in 2012. I didn’t complete as much of the wordcount/meat of the novel as I’d hoped at the beginning of 2017 but I left 2017 feeling motivated and well equipped to continue developing the project.
The program was a pretty big investment for me – costing over $1000 for the year – but it was well worth it, and if you’re an aspiring writer, I would highly recommend it. I felt so supported and nurtured and welcomed into the Writers SA family (including getting the opportunity to travel to Mildura with Ali Cobby Eckerman to be in the room with her as she shared her skills with emerging writers there).
It was an absolute joy to spend a year with a group of fellow emerging South Australian writers, supported by Writers SA, and I am so glad I made the commitment.
My Patreon circle is small but mighty in its impact. In 2017, my patrons collectively contributed $866 to my creative practice. This $866 directly contributed to commissioning Adelaide artist Alice Blanch as part of Manifold Portrait. Alice spent two days in Berri visiting Rotary Park and creating an artistic response. I am collecting the special something she has made from her tomorrow to deliver to Manifold Portrait next week – keep an eye on my Insta for a little sneak peek or sign up to the Patreon for patron-only posts. Which by the way, although I’ve been quiet here on the blog, I’ve created 47 posts on Patreon, most are patron-only, though a few are visible to general public and they are a mix of behind the scenes work-in-progress snippets, personal reflections, updates, vodcasts, e-zines and a few other bits and bobs.
As above, my Patreon circle have contributed financially and my posts there have been a way of keeping me accountable (to myself), but most importantly, these supporters – who are putting their actual, real money towards my creations – have been a huge source of encouragement and support. Knowing they believe in me and want to actively support and follow my work has been the biggest gift this year. Thank you Jesse, Kerrie, Ryan, Gemma, Rebecca, Sam, Kimberlee, Andria, Nic and Nic. You are all bloody gems.
You can find the Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/lylyeeoftheriver
I’m keeping the regular rewards the same but I am toying with the idea of revamping the goals and their special reward this year.
I’m going home. At the end of 2017 (October) I nabbed a brand-spanking-new dream job as the Creative Producer, Youth for Carclew and Country Arts. It’s new jointly funded position between the two organisations and the role is dedicated to nurturing creative experiences and opportunities for young people living in regional South Australia. I’m bloody stoked. It’s a promotion (money wise), my contract includes a car (yeah!) but most importantly the J&P said ‘the successful applicant will be based in a regional location, to be negotiated’. So Nic worked his guts out and nabbed himself a teaching position back in the Riverland and we are going home to be embedded in our community of extended family, friends, challenges and opportunities. I could not have ended 2017 feeling any more excited and grateful.
And while I am sad to say goodbye to ExpressWay Arts and to see that project come to an end, in other brilliant news, Carclew and City of Onkaparinga made a new commitment to support Kids Against Humanity with a 1.5day a week Creative Producer. So there will be some continuing legacy of that work and Kids Against Humanity in particular. Claire Glenn who was their weekly facilitator has taken on that new role (and you can read a recap of everything we achieved in the four and a half years I was Creative Producer of ExpressWay Arts here: http://carclew.com.au/Program/ExpressWay)
Other bits and bobs of note
- I wrote and supported a short film and some attached scenes for a Shine SA sexual health project with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people in collaboration with Jessica Wishart.
- I was the recipient of the 2017 Arts South Australia Geoff Crowhurst Memorial Ruby Award
- Managed to write 37,157 words during NaNoWriMo
- Participated in the Operation Move 12-week Learn to Run Program and continued to make regular running a part of my life
- Sold hand-made zines of words I’d crafted at one of Zombie Queen’s official Zine Swaps
- Participated in a five week song-writing course (which seems small if you don’t know the backstory to why I was afraid of it) and have since written three songs that are meaningful to me
- Presented a work in progress with the very excellent Sara Strachan and other collaborators at Crack Theatre Festival in Newcastle
- Had two wisdom teeth removed the same week I was the opening speaker for the 2017 District 9520 Rotary Youth Leadership Awards
- Ticked off another two units of my never ending double degree (which I commenced mid-2008 and have been studying externally via CDU)
- Completed a bunch of e-courses in various business and arts things which I found super helpful (including Laura Milke Garner’s Artist Bootcamp)
- Started a peer-mentoring process with Petra Szabo and her fledgling company Potential Kinetics Theatre
- Had my first overseas visit! I went to Singapore for a couple of days as a presenter at a Youth Arts Symposium with the CE of Carclew.
- Wrote and performed more poetry, facilitated more workshops, spoke at more things, ate lots of food, had lots of naps, visited the beach with my children, snapchatted and messaged with my friends and family, lived and learned and breathed and cried and hoped and discovered.
And because so much of this post is about the things that went right, here’s some words from a patron-only post I shared back on 3rd May 2017:
Oh my loves. I’m tired this week. Tired in that way where your face hurts. Tired in that way where you crave sugar and a warm blanket. Tired in that way where the littlest things leave you on the edge of tears.
Yesterday I dropped my phone and the screen cracked. It’s not the worst I’ve seen but the cracks are in just the right spot to make it difficult to view photos, which is terrible timing for promoting Losing Faith in Unicorns on social media (the show opens in two weeks from tomorrow!). Today I ripped my favourite pair of pants. Right through the inside seam and across the back of my left thigh. I’m still wearing them but they’ll never be acceptable for public viewing again.
I’m tired and worn thin. By big things and little. By the world and by my world and by my self. And I’m okay, because I know these times are only temporary, because somewhere along my journey I got the taste for hope and now it never leaves me even when I feel like I’m splitting at the seams. So I’m okay. But part of being okay is also sharing that sometimes okay is not being okay. Sometimes okay is struggling and being tired and teary and worn out and full of doubts. Because we all feel that way sometimes. Because that’s part of living a full, rich life too.
A word for 2018
I choose a word every year. As a frame, a lens, a direction to pursue. In 2017 my word was mobilise. I was struggling to decide on a word for 2018 and Nic was throwing out random suggestions, one of them was ‘yield’ and in response, laughing I said, ‘I never yield’.
But I got to thinking about what a great word yield is and how it has layers of meanings that feel so right for me in entering 2018.
So there you go.
- produce or provide (a natural, agricultural, or industrial product).
- produce or generate (a result, gain, or financial return).
- give way to arguments, demands, or pressure.
- relinquish possession of.
- (of a mass or structure) give way under force or pressure.
See you in 2018, dear hearts.
A small selection of the things that shaped me, inspired me and moved me in 2017:
- A.B Original, Reclaim Australia Album (special mention to ‘I Could Be Dead in a Minute)
- Electric Fields, Nina (from the Inma EP)
- Jessica Wishart, My Black Boy EP
- Vitalstatistix, Adhocracy & Rebecca Meston’s Drive showing/artist talk
- Restless Dance Theatre, Intimate Space
- Emily Steel (writer) & Daisy Brown (director), 19 Weeks & Rabbits
- Paul Gazzola with various artists and the City of Onkaparinga, SUE
- The Vampire Diaries on Netflix, and no, I’m not joking (maybe I should write about this?)
- Learn to Run Program, Operation Move
- Binder of Australian Women Writers FB Group
- Writers SA (formerly SA Writers Centre)
My love and I have ten minutes to find the venue and we’re lost. As we back track up Hindley street, we see a familiar face pop out of an alleyway and relief washes over me. We’ve found it. The alleyway is framed by posters for the show on either wall. I don’t know how we missed it. Others arrive at the same time we do, unexpectedly they are familiar faces that fill me with affection.
We are handed an instruction sheet to choose our nickname and log in to the show app. We make our nicknames and they wave us through. Down the alleyway and we swing left, down stairs and into a small room scattered with chairs. There is a small bar to the right and another small room with chairs. We can buy drinks at the bar and we continue to stumble into some of my favourite people as the venue fills up. We picked a good night to attend.
People gather in groups, some sitting on the scattered chairs and some standing, everyone waiting for the show to start. We pick out the actors by the small microphones taped along their jaws, they are dotted among us. The room has white sheets taped at various locations, we see the rolling projection of audience nicknames appear. We try to match nicknames with new people coming in. The projections match the app screen appearing on our phones. We’re all logged in and ready for whatever this is going to be.
Throughout the show I stand, I sit, I stand again. I eat crisps. I drink coke. I laugh. I cry. I feel the weight of sadness, of grief, of collective shame, of joy, of hope.
Technology is rough and ready, gritty with texture, projection sheets are slightly crooked, projectors are installed in milk crates. Actors look like me. Actors look nothing like me. Actors tell their own stories. Actors tell other people’s stories. Ushers are audience, are wait staff, are aware. Music is quiet, barely noticed but powerful, perfect, necessary. Audience can interact with their phones, or not. The phone app creating a tweet-stream like back channel, another way to listen, to learn, to question, to contribute.
This is the theatre I want more of. This is the theatre that I want to make more of. This is the theatre that I want to see more of. This is the theatre that I want there to be more of. Theatre that tells stories of here and now. Theatre that moves me. Theatre that reminds me. Theatre that pokes and prods. Theatre that unites and celebrates. Theatre that closes my throat with hurt. Theatre that fills my fingertips with hope. Theatre that is not perfect, does not try to be perfect. Theatre that is contextual and nuanced. Theatre that doesn’t have all the answers but has some offers. Theatre that takes me to old places in new ways or to new places in familiar ways. Theatre that does neither and both all at once.
It might not be your cup of tea, it might have a completely different effect on you. That’s okay. Not everything is for everyone.
January 25-28 2017
Director, Developer and Performer –
Edwin Kemp Attrill
Associate Producer –
Devisors and Performers –
Matilda Bailey, Melissa Maidment, Jamila Main, Jason Masiglia
Composer and Musician –
Lighting Design and Technician –
From my experience, it’s very satisfying to hurt someone that has hurt you.
I don’t want to be that person ever again.
That doesn’t mean being silent. It doesn’t mean accepting or condoning. It doesn’t mean ignoring. It doesn’t mean that I won’t or shouldn’t fight. It doesn’t mean I won’t defend myself or others.
It does mean it’s not perfect. It does mean I have no clear answers, responses, solutions. It means I have only questions.
But I don’t want to be the person who deliberately seeks to hurt anyone for any reason. I don’t want to be the person who gains joy or satisfaction from hurting anyone, even the worst among us.
That is not the person I want to be.
I looked in the mirror and faced that and I don’t ever want to be that person again.
It’s not a reflection on anyone else and their way through difficulty, sometimes we do just have to kick and scream until the darkness bleeds. Sometimes we do have to compromise our deepest held values and selves. Sometimes we have to sacrifice everything we want to be for a bigger gain.
And truly, I probably will have to compromise my own integrity in the future again too.
I don’t know.
But I’ll have to weigh it with myself. With who I know I want to strive to live up to. And so I’m naming it. The thing I don’t want to become.
This is just me thinking out loud, with the circles that surround me, because we all have to wrestle with these choices and make our own answers. Reconcile our own journeys. Its not an absolute thought or a conclusion of any kind. It’s a feeling my way through the murk.
I share, not because I think I’m right, I’m more lost and weighted with doubts than anything else, I share because other people’s sharing helps me. So maybe my sharing of the mess and the wading through can have value for someone else.
I wrote this as a facebook status on January 23rd 2017. I am publishing it here so I can easily find it again as a reminder to myself, later.
One word to sing a new year in/ to lure gently in, to sit softly perched/ on my shoulder/ my lap/ my heart/ to be welcome// #tinytwitterpoem (2015)
I enjoy marking time as an opportunity for reflection and growth. So for me the end of one year and the beginning of another is a beautiful time to gather my thoughts, say thank you for the year that has been and invite the coming year with intention.
My 2016 was on the less great end of the scale. As the year unfolded, my resilience and health unravelled. It was the cumulative impact of multiple personal losses (the deaths of friends and family in particular) as I tried to navigate a challenging professional year and the meat grinder of small but relentless personal and professional failures. The wearing down was very much exacerbated by some really shitty self-care on my part – physically and mentally – and I’m sharply aware of my own complicity in the year’s struggles.
IMAGE: Photo of cross stitch made by Jamila Main (@xcrossbitchx on Instagram) that hangs in my office.
Subjectively and objectively comparing it to other years, 2016 has not been my worst year, but it has been one of the toughest emotionally. It’s rattled me in a way that some of my worst years never did.
2016 was also a year that was filled with some incredible highlights and soul-filling opportunities for gratitude.
Including (in no particular order):
- Presenting my solo fringe show, Another Elusive Maybe. It was personal and vulnerable and outside of my comfort zone. The beautiful soundscape my friend and collaborator Ryan Morrison created for the show was a special gift. Watching and hearing people interact after the show gave me so much joy. And some very generous and heartwarming reviews, including this one from Jen St Jack at Great Scott.
“Amidst all the rabble about the true meaning of Fringe, I can tell you that this is it. Real art that pushes the boundaries – art that is completely different to anything you’ve experienced before.
Another Elusive Maybe is truly special. It’s an intimate and absorbing experience that cuts you off but leaves you wanting more.”
IMAGE: Another Elusive Maybe, reflected selfie with the audience at Smith Street, February 2016.
- All the beautiful and love filled weddings AND funerals I attended. These opportunities to be in the company of people I loved to share joy (and food), celebration and grief.
- Nurturing so many rewarding projects with Carclew and City of Onkapringa as the Creative Producer of ExpressWay Arts. In particular in 2016, Brienna Macnish’s The Third Place, spending a number of weeks with Girls Yarning Group at Christies Beach High School and Kids Against Humanity’s Losing Faith in Unicorns.
- Working alongside so many inspiring, supportive and excellent humans in my paid role, my independent projects and in my community.
- Continuing to quietly make connections with the residents of Manifold Portrait at my own pace. This project, more than any other, is teaching me all the things.
- The many other creative projects and opportunities I had, with special mention to Vitalstatistix’s Aeon Adhocracy residency, Spoken Word SA and City Library Poet in Residence program and Country Arts SA’s artist retreat.
- Joining Adelaide Sword Academy’s long sword classes. Fun, rewarding and unexpectedly life affirming.
- A perspective shifting and precious two weeks in the Kimberley as a participant of the Australian Rural Leadership Program. Followed by a week of getting to know the other participants in Melbourne and the knowledge that we have another 10months together in 2017.
IMAGE: A tired, dirty and grateful me towards the end of our Kimberley adventure. Ft. busted boot. Photo taken by Nova Peris on mobile phone, August 2016.
- Interstate trips for art and reunions that cemented how grateful I am to have this exceptional life.
- All the delightful, generous and thoughtful emails, texts, facebook messages and tweets I’ve received this year from a host of excellent people. In particular those people who have reached out with kindness when I’ve been struggling and those people who have supported and encouraged my creative practice at its best and its worst.
- Six (SIX!) amazing people who became my patrons in 2016, providing financial and moral support to my creative practice.
- Watching my toddler grow and discover the world. Little people are such a source of joy and perspective.
- Seeing my teenager growing into himself. Overhearing him tell his friend “Yeah, but you have to put yourself out there and try things.” This, of all the things in 2016, has felt like the biggest win. By itself, but in the context of history most especially.
- Another year sharing this journey with my life partner. We’ve both struggled this year separately and neither of us have had the reserves to fully support each other, but even so, our life together is a great gift. I was also really proud of him for being a finalist in a state teaching award and kicking some of his own professional goals across the year.
IMAGE: iPhone screengrab, conversations with my love, 2016.
- Developing some new friendships, deepening existing friendships and reconnecting with some old ones. Friendship is always something I’ve found difficult. I’m introverted (life is a kind of theatre too) and nervous and find making friends fraught with anxiety so the friendships I have are deeply treasured.
- Beach visits, making time for running, living in a beautiful home, the resources to live and eat, visiting and experiencing SO MUCH thought provoking, life affirming, inspiring art in all its forms.
2016 has been brimming with highlights, joy and excellence and with heartache, unhealthy stress, disappointment, hurt and loss. Neither cancels the other out for me.
I have felt and do feel both deeply.
I have struggled (hard) this year, with situations and with myself. I have felt gratitude this year, deep and real and filling gratitude.
Thank you 2016.
Your difficulty has forced me to face myself, to see what I really want and to ask for it. Your grace has given me the support and energy to find my way through a year that wrecked me. Now I’m ready.
IMAGE: Past, present and future audit/artwork at Country Arts SA artist retreat, facilitated by Lenine Burke. Ft. my feet, November 2016.
Some people hate the idea of New Years resolutions and some people love them and commit (or not) to a special personal goal every year. A specific goal has never been my thing but I really like the process of choosing one word for the coming year. One word as a guidepost, intention, tone. In the same way that as a host I might think about the music I choose for an event, the music doesn’t guarantee that my guests will have a particular experience, but it helps set the mood to encourage one environment over another. Think playing screamo versus folk/indie. Neither is better or worse music but they create very different vibes and experiences for the people who are there.
Choosing a word for the coming year is an opportunity for me to consider the kind of space I want to shape for myself. To think about how I live in my values, to bridge the gap between who I am and who I want to be and to let go of any baggage I’m carrying from the year that has been.
My word for 2017 is:
- Organize and encourage (a group of people) to take collective action in pursuit of a particular objective
- Bring (resources) into use for a particular purpose
- Make (something) movable or capable of movement
2016 brought into focus what I really want and what needs to happen to get there, so 2017 is taking the first steps to realize my way there.Mobilising myself, my resources, my communities to bring to life the best in all of us along the way.
See you in 2017, my loves.
A small selection of the things that shaped me, inspired me, moved me in 2016:
Joelistics, Blue Volume album
Electric Fields, Inma EP
Anohni, Drone Bomb Me single
Tina Arena, When You’re Ready single
Bruce Pascoe, Dark Emu
Patrick Rothfuss, The Kingkiller Chronicles
Guy Gavriel Kay, The Fionovar Tapestry (again)
Shane Koyczan, a bruise on light
Andrea Gibson, Pole Dancing to Gospel Hyms
Lisa Fa’alafi and Candy and Kim Bowers, Hot Brown Honey
Emma Beech, Life is Short and Long
PACT, Rapid Response Team
I made a stop motion animation for a uni assignment last month (October 2016).
500 or so individual pages with hand drawn images in black texta.
I passed the assignment, so yay on that front.
And now I have 500ish sheets of paper that I am giving another life to.
I’m recycling them into snail mail as a rolling project of connection, hello and sharing for anyone who wants in.
So if you’d like a letter/poem/something else sent to you or someone you know, just email me with the address details and who you’d like it addressed to. Put ‘Envelope(d)’ as the subject line.
pressurelands AT me DOT com
Or fill out the contact form below.