Deborah Pollard is one of Q Theatre Lab’s 2021 Artists-in-Residence. A director, performance maker and artist, her practice has encompassed a diverse range of collaborations – working with dancers, farmers, performers and visual artists, among others. The work she’s currently developing, Eighteen Years On, combines wry wit, compelling storytelling and song, in a theatrical portrait of the very human face of climate change catastrophe, through the story of a family who lost their home during the 2003 Canberra bushfires.
Now into the second week of her three-week long residency, Deb took some time out of her creative development process to share some insights into her work, her day and her life.
How has Eighteen Years On evolved?
The work began as a feeling, a strong emotional feeling about the Canberra bushfires and the loss of our family home in 2003. I have been processing that event and its impact on my family for eighteen years. This is the second performance work I made about that event. I think it’s become very timely to work with this subject again, as it is something many people are experiencing more and more every year.
This is a small intimate work that focuses on sharing that experience through simple storytelling.
Please describe a day in residence…
I arrive with a coffee in hand, set up my tech gear and start the rehearsals with singing a few scales, as I sing in the show. In the early stages I then sat and wrote, read out what I wrote and played different soundscapes I thought might work with the text. I’ve also been building up an image library of slides that I will present as part of the work.
What did you want to do with your career when you were growing up?
I always wanted to do some kind of performance. Even in primary school I was directing little works and dressing up my classmates. Nothing has changed really
What has been your favourite moment or moments in the theatre?
As much as I like good writing I also really like theatre that is very visual, such as Italian director Romeo Castellucci’s work. He began a performance once by putting a baby on the stage. The child was centre stage and alone. This act immediately evoked a sense of care from the audience, like we had all been entrusted to care for this ‘little one’ in front of us. It was very compelling and quite moving watching this child and dreaming about what they might become in the future.
Name six people you’d invite to dinner if you could invite anyone at all, living or not.
David Lynch, Federico Fellini, Jacinda Adern, Romeo Castelluci and just in case there was an awkward silence, Liza Minelli, she would be sure to fill it with song.