I work with artists, and communities to breathe life into black boxes. Together we craft characters and build worlds for them to inhabit, to then share with audiences.
how do we make sure everybody can see themselves represented in the stories we’re sharing on stage and the screen
I grew up 40 minutes outside of Wellington in the Akatarawa Valley, Upper Hutt. In the house my mum grew up in. I’m the youngest of five. My family comes from
humble beginnings, with my mother being a teacher, and my dad jumping between sales and social work.
My parents have always acted as pillars
within the community, meaning our home was always
a second home for many. I was lucky enough
to grow up next door to my grandparents, and when they passed was encouraged into aged care where my family continued to grow as I gained more kaumātua. When I wanted to go to design school, it was my siblings who helped advocate for the value of arts that my grandma had helped instil in me.
Collaborative creation starts with connection. For me that's the electric energy between artists that we can build for weeks before ever sharing it with an audience. It's the family building, coming together to work seamlessly, as one. As a wave that can flow over people, that can peak at just the right moment, to then crash spectacularly, and flow again. It's our team putting in countless hours to get everything to perfection. Where words finally are given life from the page, and design helps to immerse someone into an ephemeral world. It's the sharing of food and conversation about what we're making, who needs to see it, and most importantly why, and why now? It's the uncomfortable friction between diverse world-views, and leaning into what will challenge our assumptions and bias. The team then takes those magical moments, breakthroughs, and bonds they've formed to transfer their experience to an audience.
Whether I'm writing or dressing a performer, I always ask who is the closest person in my life to this character. Then, how can I bring touches of that authentic connection to share with the audience. Sometimes supporting a real person to step onto stage makes that more convincing for the audience.
It feels like we're getting more and more disconnected from each other, and from our emotions. Where do we create space to drop our masks, to stop pretending, to be authentic, to laugh and cry together. We're all the same, each with our own complexities. But some through systemic prejudice might have it better or worse than you. How do we punch someone in their gut, rip out their heart and reflect humanity back to them?
© 2022 Rose Kirkup.