NIDA students Miranda Middleton, who’s studying a Masters of Directing, and JoJo Williams, who’s studying a Masters of Writing for Performance share their thoughts on the week-long collaboration between NAISDA’s Developing Artists and the students of NIDA’s Writers and Directors courses, which took place in July 2019.
Tell us about what this week has involved and the importance of it
Miranda: This week has been absolutely amazing. I think what was so exciting was that, at the beginning of the week, no one had any idea of what the outcome would be. It was really nice to be starting at the same point, where we could stimulate creativity and ideas and working out mutual influences.
The Developing Artists at NAISDA have been phenomenal to work with – they’re bold and creative. Having nine brains all working on the same project has been great.
JoJo: I think myself and a number of the writers were confronted by this week because a lot of what we’ve done at NIDA is very solitary and intellectual, so coming here and meeting all these Developing Artists who are always thinking on their feet and embodied – it’s been a bit like whiplash but I’m extremely grateful for it.
We’re so ready to make something together and have fun.
Have you faced any challenges or difficulties that you didn’t expect?
JoJo: The different approaches to art making that the two cohorts have was eye opening. We came into it thinking ‘let’s articulate’ while the Developing Artists were like ‘let’s just get up and do’. It was two forces meeting and it’s exploded in the best way possible.
The NIDA students are making something they would never have made on their own, and I think it’s the same for the NAISDA Developing Artists.
Miranda: So much of this project had to be done on the fly, responding to each other in quite an organic way. That can be scary because there’s only so much planning you can do but that’s also the thrill of it. Coming into the day with ideas and a vague structure, but also being very open to change and letting the project take whatever natural path it needs to.
NAISDA has a strong cultural foundation. Have you learnt new things about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through this process?
Miranda: It’s been so beautiful, even just sharing yarns in the common room. We’ve started incorporating Indigenous language into our piece, and I think it’s just been a big learning curve.
JoJo: It’s been a huge learning experience. Being here, it’s just about seeing things come up in chats like family and growing up, and seeing how culture has shaped that.
What has been your favourite part of the experience?
Miranda: I got the chance to just work with the Developing Artists on movement direction, and I have a background in dance, so this has been a dream for me. Working with bodies and getting excited by the phenomenal things they can do. But I’ve also enjoyed the communal warm up in the morning because that’s something that we aren’t used to. It’s been so grounding, and we’ve felt so welcome into the environment.
JoJo: Being here itself has been good, working with the Developing Artists. They’re so sharp and clever and they have so much to say that needs to be heard. So, for me, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of being a tool for them or a platform for them to jump off.
You’ve now collaborated with a different genre of artist. How valuable might this be beyond NIDA?
JoJo: I would love to work with these guys. It would be great to have an opportunity like this again.
I think this is the future of Australian contemporary theatre-making. The mixing of voices, experiences and languages has been amazing, and we’ve created new work in an organic, collaborative way.
You’re always going to come up with more interesting theatre when it’s coming from more brains and bodies than one.
To learn more about the collaboration and hear from other people involved in the project, click here.