Hi! I’m Alanah – a Melbourne based director, theatre-maker, and sometimes visual artist. I am the artistic director of Rotten Honey Productions as well as an Associate Artist and She-Writes dramaturge here at Theatre Works.
Tell us about your artistic origins
I’ve tried on lots of different hats when it comes to artistic expression. Since my younger years I’ve been keeping journals to log down curious moments with strangers or the most honest moments between friends and families. I began to love watching the physical patterns in human behaviour and then replicating or distorting these shapes and movements. This fascination with people and imagery naturally drew me towards the theatre.
In a very grass roots fashion, I began developing my directing skills within the indie community scene here in Melbourne. I then completed my Masters of Directing at NIDA in 2018. Studying at NIDA involved a trip to Berlin for the Berliner Theatertreffen which really blew my mind! Especially seeing a piece called ‘Die Borderline Prozession ’by director Kay Voges. I had a beer with him the next day and basically decided I needed to devour the theatre scene in Berlin. Immediately after graduation, I booked a one-way ticket to Germany and lived there for almost two years. I am now based back in Melbourne and reconnecting with the Australian industry.
Tell us about your practice
I’m drawn to works that prioritise queer narratives and sex-positivity. The foundation of my practice is to interrogate the things we keep hidden and allow them to lead. I think that’s what I aim for in a piece; for the moments when we feel the least ashamed and the most open and vulnerable to the world – like an open wound. My favourite stories are one’s that aren’t digested easily. These stories surprise us when we connect to them and demand deep subconscious interrogation.
My works are highly visual, sensorial and vulnerable. I tend to use minimal text and focus on the language of image to create a poetry that gently evokes the mind. I also like silence and what it reveals.
What have you been up to during lockdown?
My mother recently gave me a camera that she used in her 20s, so I’ve been playing around with a lot of film and photographing how small each of our worlds have become. Plays I’ve read or will read, flowers I’ve seen and so many of the little Spoonvilles during neighbourhood walks. I’ve listened to an obscene amount of audio books, daydreamed days away and created an embarrassing amount of awfully subpar clay formations. Writing this now, it almost sounds like I’ve been productive but it definitely didn’t feel that way. However, I would assume I’m not alone.
What are you aspiring towards?
I flick between so many versions of the future and myself that it’s hard to pin point an exact aspiration. I can say that I want to learn more creative processes and mediums. To continue to sink my teeth into challenging shows with incredible, generous creators and mentors – both nationally and internationally. These are much more individual goals, obviously, but what I really want is our industry to take more responsibility with the stories we tell. We are the narratives that are repeated. The shift that is happening in the industry right now is incredibly important and it is every single person’s responsibility from audience members to stakeholders to make sure these shifts aren’t just a temporary movement but a concrete beginning to what our theatre can be. A future of an inclusive and equitable culture. An industry that is diverse in race, gender, sexuality and physical ability. I believe that should be everyone’s aspiration and responsibility right now.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a creative development for Carmen Maria Machado’s ‘Inventory’. It’s a large queer ensemble piece tackling isolation and connection during the apocalypse. I honestly cannot wait to dig my my teeth into this one. Which is made obvious but the fact
my bedroom has been covered in storyboards for months. Just (not so) patiently waiting until the theatre’s re-open. I’m also working on a sensory installation with Aislinn King. The visuals are stunning and it’s thrilling to know that we can finally share it soon.
What have you gained from the Associate Artists program?
It has been an incredibly valuable program. Everyone in the program is artistically generous and it’s been great to touch base about some of the more practical and scary parts of the theatre industry. The guests have been wonderfully transparent with us about building their careers and not just with the fun stuff but also things like financing their companies and careers, moments they have said no to opportunities, mistakes and lessons they have made along the way. There’s such a mixture of artists in the program so it’s been fab learning different perspectives and processes.
For more about Alanah, check out her website here: https://www.alanahguiry.com/
? by Sean Smith