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Sunday, 2 June 2013

ALL ABOUT ME

MY JOURNEY

I have been acting since I was twelve years old. I performed on stage as a teenager in all kinds of plays and pantomimes. I found acting a wonderful way to escape the world. As a teenager I had quite a low opinion of myself and didn’t feel that I knew how to talk to other people or that my opinions or my voice had the right to be heard. On stage however I loved that I had the words to say and that I could be someone else for a while. 

I studied drama at university and then went on to complete a teaching diploma. When I tell people these days that I used to be so socially paranoid at uni that I would hide in the toilets and go to class late so I wouldn’t have to chit chat outside the classroom they find it hard to believe. Teaching others drama was what pulled me out of this zone of discomfort around groups of people. When I began to place the spotlight on others around me and encourage them to feel that they had the right to be seen and heard and that their own opinion did matter I followed suit.


I clearly remember my first time ever in a classroom as a student drama teacher. I was teaching a year nine class. My palms were sweaty. My breathing ragged. I could see the pulse in the corner of my eye. I walked to the classroom and saw this girl in the corner. She was overweight. She had large glasses. Not so clear skin. And there were boys either side of her clearly given her grief. She was terrified. She looked up at me as I walked in. In that one look as our eyes met I knew I had to be brave for the both of us. I had to fake the confidence. It was the only way to help her.  That class we did an improvisation where I made her queen. The whole class had to serve her. If they displeased her she looked at her “subjects” and said “Die!” There was a lot of laughter and I saw at the end of the class a spark of hope in her eyes.


Since that day I have been on my own creative adventure to find my own power and to find my own joy. I spent some time as a high school drama teacher before moving onto youth theatre and acting coaching. It was during this new role as a youth acting coach that my confidence was no longer a front. In helping young people find their voice and believe in themselves I found myself standing on the dust of what used to be my own shell of low esteem. After several years in this role I felt the urge to return to my own roots as a performer and made the journey southwards away from my hometown of Brisbane to the cultural hub that is Melbourne.


And here I have remained for the last eight years. In this time I have had many different jobs to pay the rent and been involved in many different creative projects. For six years I ran my own drama school. I taught weekly classes and toured workshops out to schools. I also performed in countless independent theatre productions and several short films. I had a small stint on Australia’s longest running soap opera. And several TV advertisements. I got a theatrical corporate agent so I could do roving comic characters and host murder mysteries at high end events. I began to write music and play at open mic nights and even had a summer in a band as a keyboard player. I also joined a neighbourhood house drawing group and spent two years every Thursday drawing with others. This class was my special time to release my inner artist and talk to like minded souls. And to share cake!

I also worked as a home carer, a circus trainer, a retail assistant and as a primary school teacher - though not all at once!

The creative industries generally mean that you have to be resourceful to make a living. Being a creative means that you also will often work outside of your industry to pay your way. This balance to honour the artist within and to live in a house with food in the fridge is not an easy one! Most artists I associate with do most of their art for little money - or for free. It’s a hard road. But one that is paved with the riches of the soul.


Last year I decided to re-evaluate my creative journey as I was finding that I had lost a lot of my passion just trying to pay bills and keep my head above water at the primary school that I was teaching at.  I was anxious and stressed a lot of the time. I felt that my creative juices had run dry just trying to pay bills and “keep it all together”. My drawing group each week was a sanctuary of much needed quiet. But two hours a week were not enough to return to myself.

So I took all of my savings and a quarter of the year to travel with my partner. We went to Europe and the UK. It was a magnificent adventure that gave me new sights, tastes, sounds, smells... And I let myself have the space to see what lay inside my heart. I found that I drew almost everyday. And I kept a journal everyday too. And I took photos and edited them to share my adventures with friends back home. On the last day of traveling I had a revelation. I was lying in a hotel room wide awake dreaming up a casual job to do. I imagined myself in a creative environment putting images together. I searched my brain trying to think of a place that would hire someone who could put imagery together. I ended up trawling through the Lonely Planet web site and found a listing for a job as a lay out artist. I had no idea what that meant so I had to google it. This search led me to looking up graphic design and courses related to it. And it was then and there in that Bangkok hotel room I decided to go back and be a student. A week later I had put in an enrollment form and put in my notice to leave my school teaching job.


So here I am half way through the year and a third of the way through my full time course as a designer. I still teach youth theatre on weekends and one weekday afternoon/evening. This keeps me grounded, helps pay the bills and connects me to young people and the essential laughter that we share together. 

Studying again is a huge challenge. It can be scary at times. Computers and software and programs and deadlines.... Eeek! But it’s also liberating, refreshing, enlivening and I feel I am on the right path. 

And so I have created this blog to remind me to keep creating. To continue to inspire and be inspired. 

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