Last night a few of us (mostly white women theatre makers) hung out with visiting UK performer Sue Maclaine at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, and she chatted to us about her work and inspiration and methodology. It was lovely and interesting and inspiring, and also hilarious. I am always struck by the things we all have in common, as well as our differences, and it’s always lovely to hear the confidence and sureness that maturity brings to the world of theatre work.
Part confession (I rehearse while lying in the bath), part declaration (I do not collaborate), part discovery (I don’t know, but I think it may be me ringing a bell), Sue brought a lightness to the heavy conversation of making meaningful theatre, and she completely sold me her work. I can’t wait to see Still Life, the show she will be performing here next weekend at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective.
I love solo work, but I also love working in a team. I love being completely in charge though and, like Sue, I don’t think I am a great theatrical collaborator (I tell actors exactly what to do to achieve my vision). But, I revel in the co-creative space of improv. I love the completely solo space of writing, and I am in parts addicted to and terrified of solo performance.
So it was lovely to have a listen to Sue, and to hear her go boldly into this discussion (she saw, and hated, a piece of local theatre the night before), she spoke of having to take out her metaphorical man part at meetings, and she put forward ideas that challenge the narrow narrative between South African performers and our audiences.
Mostly though, she was deliciously funny, in a room full of very earnest female theatre people. I was reminded of how important being funny is (even though Sue told us that her hardest deaths in front of an audience were when she tried stand-up comedy).
I love my theatre life, I love serious solo work, I love directing, and performing and improvising. Thanks Sue, for pinging that stuff for me. (And thanks to Bella for the outrageous and delicious private cooking demo).