Rosie Clynes

I make my work with the goal of allowing its viewers to leave their logical minds, even just for a moment.

Tell us a little about your background – what did you study and what path led you to what you are doing today?

I did a Bachelor of Fine Arts majoring in Theatre Practice at the Victorian College of the Arts. I graduated in 2015. I came to the VCA straight from high school. I always wanted to become a performer, although my parents suggested I study something more ‘sensible’ before I pursue acting. After an unexpected offer from the VCA at the end of Year 12, I decided I couldn’t say no. (Sorry Mum, sorry Dad). In the three years since graduating from VCA, I’ve spent almost an equal amount of time in Australia and in Indonesia. I have always felt a pull to go back to Indonesia (where my Mum is from), to live there and learn the language. When I was still at VCA, I already had decided that it was something I needed to do when I graduated. That’s how I came to live in Central Java for a year (in 2016) and train with Teater Garasi, one of Indonesia’s most prominent theatre collectives. It’s also why I’m back there now. Since establishing a tie with Indonesia’s theatre and film industries, I’ve met and been mentored by some really amazing artists, interned at an Indonesian arts festival and got a role in an Indonesian mini-series. I’m hoping I keep getting to work across Indonesia and Australia in the future.

Where do you derive your inspiration from?

In terms of the content, my theatre work is usually inspired by dreams, identity and anxiety, but is mostly always political on some level. I have covered topics in my devised work ranging from climate change to status anxiety, and am now working on a script about diaspora identity politics. I like to work with directors and theatre-makers who are also politically minded. In terms of form, I am inspired by post-dramatic work and adaptation of old texts and stories, by music performance, and by surrealism and dream logic.

What have been one or two favourite recent projects?

Apokalypsis was a show I devised with Charles Purcell, Zak Pidd, Kai Bradley and Marcus Mckenzie for Next Wave Festival 2018. We worked as a team of five to create a show about climate change. It was so much fun and an absolutely wild show. It was my favourite recent project because not only was the process incredibly dynamic and fun and the show extremely well received, but the piece itself said something which I think is very pertinent in this (slowly melting) day and age. My second favourite project was the recent Indonesian miniseries shoot. We travelled across three cities in central Java over a week, hung out in these incredibly charged shooting locations (a decrepit Dutch town in Semarang, an old Javanese house in Solo). I learnt so much from the cast and crew, particularly about how it all works on an Indonesian-speaking set environment.

Describe your process. Do you work from life, references or a combination of both??

Definitely both. My current project (‘Other Motherland’ at Komunitas Salihara) is probably the most personal project I’ve ever created, as it derives directly from the relationship I have with my dual-heritage identity. With devised work, I usually spring from a topic or theme which I have strong thoughts and opinions about. Then as I carry out research, these opinions and thoughts can expand, stretch and become more nuanced. When I’m doing acting work, it is usually for other people’s projects. So I will use references in order to get a clearer (historical/social) understanding of the world I’m about to jump into. The last project I acted in involved listening to old Dutch recordings and finding photos of Indonesia in the 1940s.

What do you want the reader to experience when they’re engaging with your work?

I just want my viewer to experience something, anything really. As long as it’s some sort of new feeling, energy, or idea. I make my work with the goal of allowing its viewers to leave their logical minds, even just for a moment. I personally think that’s such an important function of art, to create a connection from the viewer back to their own spirit, because so much of the day we are stuck in our intellectual minds, it’s nice to be somehow reminded of our own soulfulness and our deep connections to the bigger picture.

  • Rosie Clynes