In an industry too often asking performers to work for their art, Flick Anderson had some other ideas that got to work.
Introducing ‘Welcome to Dinner!’.
A diploma graduate taking her JMC learning to produce her own show featuring acts from quite a few advanced diploma graduates, keeping it in the family. What’s important about this show? The acts are making their art work for them.
The show is breaking ground in giving paid platforms to performers with acts too short to debut as a standalone show, giving you a buffet of sorts.
We got a chance to catch up with Flick at the dinner table and chat with her about this project.
Tell us a bit about ‘Welcome to Dinner’?
'Welcome to Dinner' is a variety show I created in order to showcase short-form theatre whilst paying performers. The imagery of 'Welcome to Dinner!' was inspired by a painting of ‘The Last Supper’ my housemates and I found in the garage of our rental this year and promptly displayed in our house. We cut out faces and stuck them over the original, and I kind of liked the messy and chaotic imagery of all these different people at a table. It's sort of what the show is all about - these quirky, gritty acts coming together. That, and the fact that thematically we're dealing with religion, sex, and politics in the show which isn’t supposed to be spoken about at the dinner table.
The show is 60-90 minutes of movement, comedy skits, dance, burlesque, stand-up, music, and poetry. Artists express themselves in 10 minutes or less. Hopefully something for everyone in there. I read an opinion piece recently, it's fairly old but the sentiment rings true, it's entitled “Don't be so boring” which really resonated with me. Aside from being meaningful, I'm trying to create art that the everyday person can enjoy. If people 'get' the multiple layers, great! Although, if I can make someone who wouldn't usually give theatre the time of day want to come back for more? Even better!
How did you get involved with this project?
Throughout the last year, I spent a lot of time in theatre festivals designed for short-form performance and became crestfallen at how many festivals have incredible acts up and don't pay them anything. Too often performers are expected to work for the 'art' or the 'love of it', and it's something I am fiercely against. Rather than stay mad, I decided to do something about it. I completed a short course in producing, worked at a bank to save up money, and front this whole production to get the ball rolling and become (as they say) the change I want to see in the industry. It's a door split, with a guaranteed fee without profit, not anywhere near MEAA rates but it's a start. It's the symbol of telling performers that I think are talented and valuable and that they are worth money, which was important to me. The rest is (almost) history!
There are a bunch of JMC grads in this production – what’s it like working with creatives that have had the same training as yourself?
In terms of performing, it's a lot easier (language-wise) to connect and perform with fellow JMC grads. The biggest advantage of working with them is that I've seen them in their element. JMC introduced me to a myriad of talents both whilst I studied there and after I left, in this way it's been incredible to reconnect and work professionally with known talents. Seeing someone in acting school also gives you a great insight into what they're like to work with, all those that remained hardworking and diligent alongside their talent were my go-to artists for something such as this project.
How did your time at JMC prepare you for this project?
Funnily enough, one class springs to mind. Aside from excellent tutors along the way including Jill Brown, Deborah Jones, and Naomi Livingstone who reignited my love for the industry, I had an industry class with Lex Marinos in my final semester which stands out. One of our major assessments was to write up our 5 Year performance plan. Like most assignments, I'd finish it a month earlier and wait until the last minute to send it in. Three days before it was due my laptop died, and I lost everything. I was so upset and couldn't bring myself to re-do my plan again, so I wrote my new 5 Year plan as a playwright/producer. Funnily enough, that tragedy equipped me with the resilience and basic knowledge to start my producing journey. This experience reframed my approach to my education into something holistic. Near the end of my time at JMC, the Acting Course Director Glen Hamilton supported my decision to pursue a more holistic role in the industry, which was the final push I needed to really jump in the deep end and just start working. A year later, up pops my first show! How exciting is that?
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about studying Acting?
If someone is on the fence about studying acting, I’d give them my no-brainer advice to just go for it. Even if your career goal isn't solely acting or if you jump into the course and the technique isn't quite right for you, the stuff on stage and screen is just the icing on the cake. The real value of performance training, in my opinion, is personal growth, if you choose to really put your all into it by learning to be vulnerable and to connect with yourself and others. Many people spend their lives living without connection, above the surface. It takes a beautiful boldness to demand more of yourself and it can be terrifying to take that...but when you do it? It's glorious.
What was your favourite thing about studying at JMC?
The tutors, definitely. JMC has a great mix of professional directors, performers, and writers which made for a fantastic opportunity. Acting school is unique in that your value directly correlates with how much you give yourself to the training. For me, JMC had a fantastic breadth of knowledge and experience amongst tutors, always with a teaching style available that you could connect with and benefit from if you were open to the opportunity.