What happens if the place you call home vanishes beneath your feet? The world you once knew, now gone. “Home” is unfamiliar, strange.
Tantrum’s Trajectory Ensemble presents a play filled with stories from original poetry, found texts, songs, myths and music in a personal exploration of what it means to feel at home – in the world, in your country, in your suburb, in yourself. Director Janie Gibson took the time out to chat with me about her own experiences studying theatre overseas and what it means to be home.
Joy – I understand you’re back in Australia after spending an extended time overseas?
Janie – I’ve actually been back for a couple of years, I grew up in Newcastle and moved to Sydney and did an undergraduate degree but I spent about five years living overseas in England and the USA training and working in different theatre companies over there.
Joy – And how did you end up in Poland?
Janie – I had finished my degree in Sydney and had a desire for some rigorous actor training and I really wanted to learn from a theatre tradition that was old and I was fascinated by the Polish theatre and the Grotowski tradition which is a lot of really intense physical theatre, high energy that’s working with this primal energy that the training seems to unlock in the actor’s body, with a lot of wild movement and acrobatics, polyphonic singing and very deep work with text and also quite avant garde experimental interpretations of classic texts. I was lucky enough to get accepted into Song of the Goat Theatre (Polish theatre co) and found myself in this incredible training ensemble with 12 actors from all over the world.
Joy – The songs and poetry used in ‘Home’ – where are these from, are they from Australia, or all over?
Janie – We had a beautiful mix in the show so I’m lucky enough to be working with some very talented musicians who are actors in the ensemble so most of the music is original, written by the actors themselves, and we have some choral singing, some piano and some of the music is ‘found’ music, and one actress from Chile found this amazing Chilean rap which we’ve incorporated into the piece. So there is this beautiful hip-hop moment which is both silly and very fun. So it is a very diverse musical palette. We’re also lucky enough to be working with a Newcastle sound designer called Hugh Jones who is a very talented guy.
Joy – How do you feel coming back to Australia to work again – is Australia still home for you?
Janie – It very much is, I spent five years travelling and seeking new experiences and transforming and growing but there was a very strong moment for me when I was finishing up my work in the USA with Shakespeare Co based in Massachusetts when I suddenly had this pang of loneliness, and even though I was doing some amazing work in the company with some beautiful people I had such a pang to stop travelling and to put down roots and to re-connect with my own roots. One of the first things I did when I got back to Australia, when I was based at my parent’s house in Newcastle, I called up Tantrum Theatre and said ‘I’m here, let’s work together’. They are the only theatre company in Newcastle making contemporary performance with emerging artists, they’re quite an exceptional company in that respect.
Joy – How did you get on after you got back, was it strange after being away?
Janie – I’m still struggling with being back, I’m really close to my family, which is why the pull for me to return was so strong. But it’s a funny thing, and I know that I’m privileged and blessed to have this beautiful problem - I did so much growth and transformation overseas and I was exposed to languages of theatre that are so precious but that don’t necessarily exist here so I have felt a bit like an artistic immigrant on my return, where I want to keep speaking that new language that I learned overseas but not many people here speak the same language. So it’s a funny experience of returning to my home, but feeling also like it’s hard to communicate with other artists here who don’t know the world that I’ve just been in. But I’ve been able to train the young people in this project in the style of theatre that I learned overseas.
Joy – What is next for you?
Janie – To be honest I’m focusing on my financial stability, as an artist it’s difficult to sustain a living so I’m focusing on doing some other work to get some financial stability in my life so I can keep making art and my next artistic project is I’d like to form my own company and the question for me is where do I do that? I’ve been in Melbourne for the last two years but I’m starting to think that I’d like to move back to Newcastle to do that. This project has inspired me to think that that’s possible.
Home – Created by Janie Gibson and Tantrum’s Trajectory Ensemble Presented by Tantrum Youth Arts in collaboration with PACT will be on from 4-7 Oct, for more information and tickets see: http://www.pact.net.au/whats-on/2017/1/17/hometantrumarts
Thank-you to Janie Gibson and we look forward to seeing the show!