Tag Archives: life

@filmlifeproject Blogging Competition – Drumroll please

So I’ve been a little slack super busy the last little while and still haven’t finished updating my Watershed blogs or shared this teeny bit of news.

 

Waaaay back in February I wrote a blog called One Life? as part of the FilmLife Blogging Competition. The competition was to write a 300-800 word blog which could help spark conversations about organ and tissue donation in support of DonateLife Week 2013.

Annnnnddd……. I won!

One Life Winning Blogpost copy

The lovely Carly Findlay was one of the judges and she had these lovely words to say on her blog:

In deciding on a winner we were asked to consider whether a post inspired conversation about organ and tissue donation, whether it showed creativity, whether it was well written, whether it was presented creatively and whether it had any “x-factor” in capturing and using the theme in an unexpected way.

Alysha’s post scored high points against all criteria.

…………The piece adopted a poetic voice, mixed with a more conventional descriptive approach that demonstrated versatility and skill from the writer. Over three cleverly structured “acts”, each in a slightly different style, Alysha set out her case. We found her post beautifully written, and attractive on the page. Its compelling imagery and energy propelled us forward, and kept us involved to the end.

Read the rest of her comments here about half way down the page. You’ll also be able to watch the winner of the FilmLife Project short film competition(at the top), which is a fabulous parody of Gotye’s ‘Somebody that I used to know’.

And you can read some of the other blog entries here.

 

Lost in Abundance Panel – #watershedACT

Watershed Panel

It’s quite tricky to write a blog while sitting on a panel. I tried.

Lost in Abundance put me in some rather intimidating company. Joining me on the panel were:

Our panel was facilitated by the gentle Chris Brain, who was both a member of the Watershed Steering Committee and Implementation Committee. We were kicked off by Chris asking “What under-used resource would you like to see young and emerging theatre artists connect with better?”

Obvious one. Working with people with a disability. People are worried about saying and doing the wrong thing so they just avoid it. Diversity strengthens our practice. – Michelle Ryan

I want to reaffirm what Michelle said. Diversity enriches the process. Diversity in every way (deliberately). It’s a huge resource. Also, be open to the possibility of people you meet being a collaborator in the future.  – Baba Israel

Faith in yourself. It’s really broad and you won’t get a lot out of it initially. – Kirsty Hillhouse

Kirsty touched on how this faith in yourself means something to those who fund you (or invest in you in other ways). Everyone is looking for people with bright ideas – not necessarily with capacity or skill yet, there is a willingness to support and grow from the ideas. Make the most of that and don’t wait until you’re a proven product. Asking inspires people, they want to be part of your awesomeness.

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I reiterated what the previous panelists had said and touched on the power of our networks with each other and the industry – in particular harnessing the power of tools like social media.

Being a regional artist, I can’t practically pop to and from events to make networks or collect flyers to see what’s on as regularly as I’d like. But what I can do is follow companies/individuals within the industry through their social media profiles and through this have real time access to a wide range of announcements and insights into the industry and work happening across the country (and internationally). I can research and open up a dialogue with companies and people that excite me so that my travel to urban areas can be targeted and well utilized. I can overcome *some* of the isolation I feel through the connections I maintain. Social media has been a fantastic resource for me and has led to offers of paid work and other opportunity’s that I otherwise would not have accessed. Definitely a resource I would encourage other artists from all walks of life to tap into.

David was lucky last and rather than picking just one thing, he reaffirmed everything everyone else had said and shared the following list:

  • Using the internet. Accessing opportunities. Heaps of websites. Google opps for young artists. Research.
  • Travel. Being out of your space and seeing other work.
  • Older artists. Mentors. Asking questions. People whose work you like.
  • DIY. Don’t wait for the offer. Ger in there. The benefit is you start making the mistakes early.
  • Mistakes. They are a resource. Make them early.
  • Seeing more/other work. It’s easy to become a bit insular. See everything you can. Sometimes thing you hate really inspire you to be productive.
  • Playing out of your depth. You SHOULD feel scared, and like you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You shouldn’t feel like that every day of course, that’s no good for you. But if it’s been more than a year or two since you felt terrified, go and do it now. Bite off more than you think you can handle.
  • Find inspiration from outside your field.
  • Networking and collaborating. Provoke people around you to be creative. Even if it’s something small and stupid.
  • Talk with funding bodies. Ask questions. They are waiting to talk to you.

I love David. 🙂

The floor was then open to questions. This is where it just got ridiculously tricky to write everything down as I was listening and responding to questions and the other panelists and just couldn’t manage to type at the same type. So sadly I can’t give you a run down of the Q and A in detail.

Many of the questions (though not all) were asked by what I’d consider ‘youth participants’ or ‘aspiring artists’ rather than young/emerging artists. What I mean by this is people actively engaging with the arts through youth theatre and school who in the future want to consider or pursue an arts career but aren’t actually participating in the industry themselves (at present).

I found this a little frustrating, not because they weren’t valid questions, but because the vision for the summit was to be a space for young and emerging artists either completely in or well on their way to transitioning into professional practice. These questions (and the people asking them) were coming from a completely different place, and a place that is valid and important but wasn’t (from the steering committee perspective) a place that was designed to be addressed as part of Watershed. It meant that we were using time (both in this panel and Watershed as a whole) to answer questions that would have been best answered in some cases by Google searches and by attending workshops at school and with their youth theatre company.

Young people engaged with youth theatre, school and other arts as participants is a really important conversation. And one as a result of my personal practise that I am incredibly passionate about, but it is a different conversation to that of young and emerging artists as professional practitioners in the wider industry. Sadly so many people/companies just lump it all in together if you’re under 30 (or 26) which I find really ridiculous. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you want to make work with or for other young people. And just because you love engaging with the arts through youth theatre and school doesn’t mean you’ll move into professional practice.

This issue of specificity was a concern to me across the spectrum of Watershed but I have gone a little off topic from the Abundance Panel, so I will aim to visit this structural issue in a separate blog and take the time to really tease out why it was an issue and why myself and other Steering Committee members felt unsatisfied in certain areas.

Before moving on though, I do just want to make it very clear that the issues I’m talking about are not in any way a criticism of the very hard work of the Implementation Committee. They delivered the content they decided upon very well, it just happened to be content that didn’t necessarily answer the required questions for a National Theatre Summit for Young and Emerging Artists (as opposed to a National Youth Theatre Summit). I’ll delve into this properly when I get to that other blog.

Going back to the panel, there was some great discussion in response to audience questions and I was super impressed (and super intimidated) by the responses of the other panelists. What really stood out to me is the repeated motif of ‘Just ask. Just do. Just start.’

I was also struck by how the fact of being on the panel, somehow made people assume I was further in my own career than I actually am. It’s an interesting observation in terms of how the frame we put around someone shapes how we perceive and engage with them.

I am still figuring out who I am, both as a person and as an artist and I ALWAYS will be, because I see myself as ongoing project and I have a deep hunger to learn, learn, learn. I want to be better each day than I was the day before.

Also.

I have NO idea what I’m doing.

At least that’s how it often feels.

Until I remember that my journey is mine and mine alone. I bring my life experiences and professional experiences and the unique combination of the two. I’m not finished. I’m not an expert.

And that’s okay.

I still have something valuable to say.

#justsaying?

Watershed – Keynote – Baba Israel

Today (April 11th 2013) is the opening day of Watershed, the second National Theatre Summit for Young and Emerging Artists happening over the next few days in Canberra.  Coinciding with both National Youth Week and Centenary of Canberra Celebrations and in the lead up to the Australian Theatre Forum, Watershed has brought togther 50+ young artists (under 30) to connect/inspire/challenge/interrogate/consider/share.

After a very brief registration period and welcome from the implementation committee here in Canberra we launched straight into Baba Israel’s keynote.

A google search for Baba Israel reveals all kinds of interesting things. Links to various youtube videos (many well worth checking out) and various articles and profiles about his life and work.

None of them are as interesting as the man himself in the flesh. Baba fills the space and his interactions with an openness of spirit, a deeply caring masculinity that is refreshing and very special me thinks. Right down to his endearing orange tee and cap and improvised spoken word response to our desires for Watershed (#watershedACT on twitter in case you’re wondering).

At the heart of it, Baba is a storyteller and his keynote shared the story of his artistic life starting from his earliest years as the child of deeply artistic parents (raised by parents who were core members of The Living Theatre), Baba was present in the rehearsal room as a baby, being held by Directors and other creatives in room as his parents worked. Like many young people, he had a period of rebellion,  attending a science high school – that didn’t work out – but the arts remained an integral part of his life and way of engaging with the world.

Baba touched on the value of this early exposure to the arts, which I really agree with, although my own road into the arts was quite different, much later in life and more accidental. I wonder how much this early exposure and immersion in an artistic life/community shapes the confidence to explore/experiment/fail that I often struggle with. Thought for another day perhaps

Anywho – Baba honed his skills as a street performer with a lens on creating and reclaiming space (a nice link to my recent adventures at Creating Spaces). Baba spoke a lot about the power of improvisation in this early days and as his career continued to develop. The importance of enjoying and being present in that moment – responding to what is actually happening around you. Again this repeats themes from Creating Spaces and leads into a deeper discussion about having a willingness to try and fail and try again. Yes, universe I know. I know.

I don’t need lights and a stage. I can explore and express anywhere – Baba Israel

Through travel, accidental discovery and connections with others Baba discovered hip hop and hip hop through theatre as a tool for community development and education and from what I can find on the interwebs, this is *some* of what he’s best known for now (as a hip hop and spoken word artist).

Baba also spoke at length about play back theatre, which dovetails quite closely with fourm theatre/theatre of the oppressed and I am interested to learn more about play back theatre myself over the next little while.

There was so much shared actually that my notes are a little bit of a mess. I will curate this blog post a little better tomorrow when I’ve had some sleep but in the meantime…..

Some of the key questions/ideas I took away:

  • Creating spaces where people have agency is where the youth sector shines
  • As an artists you are constantly ’emerging’ and rediscovering yourself
  • We are all resources for each other. How can we best connect and tap into those resources. #tapthat
  • I (Alysha) really do love spoken word.
  • What are the reasons that a particular community doesn’t or can’t connect with theatre/performing arts
  • Professional doesn’t always involve money. It can be about commitment
  • Diversity doesn’t always happen accidentally (in fact it rarely does). Diversity often needs to be deliberate.
  • How do you maintain longevity in a company context – the importance of developing a shared language
  • Research can deepen one’s practise. It’s okay to have a break from ‘making’
  • A lot of theatre spaces usher young people in and then usher then out. How do we create spaces that young people can own?
  • Local. International. National. Instead of Local. National. International.
  • I should learn more about tele presence

You can find Baba here and here.

Also – YES, YES and YES to Contact’s board hearing the veto of their youth panel on choosing the next Artistic Director. If it’s a youth theatre company, all the major decision should absolutely be informed by and made with the young people of the company. So glad to finally find someone else that gets this and can articulate it the way it feels to me.

The beginnings of renewal…

Creating Spaces Conference, Newcastle March 12-14

The opening keynote from Marcus Westbury (Founder of Renew Newcastle and all around trouble maker/over achiever) and the first two panel sessions today covered very similar themes so I’m actually going to lump them into the one blog post so I can actually get some sleep tonight and hopefully not just make it by the skin of my teeth tomorrow after sleeping through my alarm (true story).

So, how do make a city work for people who have ideas but no money?

Renew Newcastle and it’s spin offs including umbrella Renew Australia (Newcastle came first) are essentially permanent structures for enabling temporary things. Operating on the idea that initiative and experimentation (not just capital) are the key to revitalisation, Renew projects broker an agreement with creative projects and land owners to occupy what would be otherwise empty real estate. Occupation is of a temporary nature with the view to projects testing their ideas and activating the space to encourage commercial tenants (including the projects themselves if they discover they are viable). On the surface, it’s a win-win situation for all parties involved. However there are of course barriers, the largest of which seems to be as always, fear (sigh). The morning’s sessions touched on addressing these issues and working proactively with owners and other stakeholders to address the reality that things can and do fail – and that failure can even be a desirable part of the process.

In Marcus’ opening keynote he touched on the growing popularity of DIY and the spike in home based creative businesses and use of online tools such as etsy. It’s worth noting that 70% of Australian etsy sales are to international buyers. Marcus also managed to slip in that he started the This Is Not Art (TINA) festival, as if we weren’t impressed enough.

The keynote also covered off on some of Newcastle’s history to provide deeper context, although the experience of shopping malls killing the main street and the decline of past industry is something I think almost anyone from a regional place in Australia can relate to.

For those who need a good cry, you can also visit ‘Deadmalls’ which Marcus described as ‘ruin porn’ of shopping centres that are empty or never finished. I had a peek and the content is US, but still worth a wander.

(note: Dan Thompson in his key note also referred to ‘ruin porn’ and mentioned Detroit as the pinnacle. You can google further info but it really is devastating. Libraries and schools have been completely abandoned – intact and including all their books!)

Invest in hope.

Some of my take away thoughts from the keynote:

  • Creation is growing much faster than consumption.
  • Demands for places of creativity, creation and interaction are growing but are not well served.
  • Create a dynamic of starting things – not of preserving them. There is power in doing.
  • If you tell people to come back with their idea – you just failed initiative (my note – this is where I think existing funding models fail creative projects)
  • It’s about software of the place not the hardware
  • The transformative process, rather than the art or the capital
  • Risk doesn’t exist in a vacuum, don’t believe the people who try and tell you it does. Risk should be measured against the actual likelihood
  • A sense of things happening can be self perpetuating (in the same way a sense of nothing happening creates a negative feedback loop)

The first panel of the day was then very much a follow on and digging down into all of these things with Tim Horton (Architect and other super impressive things like this) and Marcus again. Tim kicked things off by running through the work and findings of the Integrated Design Commission set up in 2010, including handing out the report summary. Which I will read and then comment on like the good girl I am. The key information to take away according to Tim though is the idea of a 10:1 return on investment, which is pretty darn impressive especially when you compare that to dollar figures invested in the range of events brought to places like Adelaide.

Tim also gave a nod the Adelaide Thinkers in Residence Program, which I am a rather fan of. I was lucky enough to work with previous Thinker in Residence Dr Genevieve Bell as part of an Office for Youth Action Team exploring ICT use in connecting regional communities – read our report here and Genevieve’s report here if you’re interested, you can see the min clip we shared when we presented the report by clicking the ‘Riverland’ tab at the top of this blog.

All of these conversations are about more than just how we activate space though, they’re about how do cities (or regional areas) transition to what they were to what they are? This is something I’m particularly interested in when thinking about the Riverland, we so often here the nostalgia and catch cries of ‘the place is dying/a hole’ etc, but the comparisons we’re using to the functions of these places in the 80’s and 90’s just aren’t relevant. Places are different now (across the nation) and traditional retail in particular is undergoing a HUGE shift.

So where does that leave us?

Grappling with the idea of trying. Of failing. Of risking. Of possibly tipping me over the edge into being a professional trouble maker. Thanks guys.

I was particularly interested in some of the points Marcus and Tim made in regards to how the creative enterprises which have been part of the Renew movement don’t neatly fit into business development paradigms or the arts. Which naturally led me to think about Fifth Quarter and how I’m shaping my creative/business future. For those outside South Australia, Fifth Quarter is a new initiative supporting emerging South Australian Artists  to develop sustainable arts business and step off the funding treadmill. It’s only just launched this year and I’ve been invited on the journey as an inaugural participant with the disjointed mess of things I’m doing. Fifth Quarter is so new, that even those running it and funding it don’t really know what it is or how it will function but that’s part of what’s exciting and the outcomes may well feed into this discussion around business/arts and where creative enterprise fits.

Online, the barriers to entry are low. When you step into the ‘real’ world, the barriers to entry become a cliff – Marcus Westbury.

I’ve just realised I was wrong. I can’t fit everything from 3 sessions into one blog and it’s already 12.45am. I will return to untangle some of the mess I’ve made tomorrow……(including photos to save you from these ugly blocks of text). Hang tight.

One life?

A life.

Only one. Just one.

One to live with, to soar with, to sing with, to love with.

What would you give? What would you risk?

For one more?

One more moment;

One more day;

One more life.

*

Lives held suspended along the length of a siren’s light;

Lives stolen, broken, smashed, ripped, torn;

Daily, nightly, weekly.

And we’re never ready. Never prepared. Never willing to hold those hands one last time. We haven’t asked. Haven’t spoken. Haven’t thought.

Just assumed;

You’d still be here;

We’d grow old together.

*

There are two sides to every story.

Two lives held in check, waiting on the other side of moments like these. Moments where a family sits together and waits. In an emergency room. Waiting to know – will they wake up? Will they be ok? There are other families sitting together and waiting too. In Doctor’s waiting rooms and hospital wards. Families slipping in and out of hospital rooms and home bedrooms watching loved ones quality of life, and sometimes life altogether slip away.

Strung together across cities and towns and farms across the country are people waiting. People waiting to live, people waiting to choose.

If your lover/mother/father/sibling/child was in an accident what would you choose?

If your lover/mother/father/sibling/child was dying from heart/liver/kidney failure what would you ask for?

There was a time people believed the things they were buried with went with them into the afterlife. There was a time people believed the Earth was flat and that the Sun was a god. We’re learnt a lot since then.

You can’t take your organs with you. You can burn them up. You can put them in the ground to rot.

Or you can Donate Life. You can end the wait for families you’ll never meet. You can give someone somewhere another moment, another day, another life.

You can know that some small part of you, or your loved one can live on and change the world.

Make the choice. Talk to your family. Make your wish count. Donate Life.

*Update – My little blog was the winner of the FilmLife Blogging Competition! Yay! Read more about the competition, the winning film entry and the comments from the judges about my blog here.

because_a little awesome fear is all it takes

Sometimes you’re just going about your work day.

In amongst it all you scan blogs, emails, social media for the latest grants/opportunities/news to share/engage with/devour.

Sometimes in the middle of all that you discover the gems. The large and small things that hit you in the best kind of way. The kind that sing to your inner longings and remind you why you do all this crazy stuff. The stuff that makes the people you know shake their head at you, because, because they don’t know the hunger in you.

The ache.

Sometimes you read words like these:

because of a sickness that says I can never be content where I am
always searching around for some new thing
because of a laziness that says never make something that lasts
only keep running for the next project
because of a fear that keeps me moving
that if I stop it will all fall apart under me

because half of life is breaking what i have
and the other half is trying to put it back together

because hummingbirds
because buenos aires airport on a winter night
because sound artists playing laptops and bamboo flutes in a gallery patio
because stoned and mumbling awkward spanish on a balcony

because to test ourselves against some kind of measure we don’t know what

I stumbled across this gorgeous poem while stalking the doings of the ever fabulous David Finnigan. Because was written during a residency in South America by Finnigan and Brother (David and Chris’ ‘band’ – so much cooler than a band, they’re exploring the messy edges of sound, word, song and music). You can read the full text of the poem here and download yourself a copy of the tracks developed during their residency.

David also happens to be a producer of the You Are Here Festival. Check it out and get involved in some of your own awesomeness.

My contribution to the interwebs/musicality recently? This. Enjoy.

Breath deep. Ache and hunger with me.

Because