Claire Glenn is an award-winning theatre maker, actor and youth arts facilitator living in Adelaide who is visiting Scotland for the 2018 Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. She is currently the Creative Producer of Carclew’s Expressway Arts and was Artistic Director for the Fairfax Festival from 2008-2014. Claire has been nominated and won awards for acting performances around the world and has worked with Malthouse Theatre, Sixxters Grimm, On Invisible Wings, Three To A Room, five.point.one and Open Space Contemporary Arts.
Claire works predominantly in the theatre for young people sector and is in demand as a theatre maker, facilitator and director amongst youth arts organisations in South Australia. She has worked with Urban Myth, SAYarts, Expressway Arts, Carclew, RYT, Act Now and D’Faces of Youth Arts. Claire’s next work, Life Lessons will take place with D’Faces in Whyalla in October 2018.
Can you tell us a bit about Carclew?
Carclew is a medium sized not-for-profit youth arts organisation in South Australia that uses creativity for positive change and our participants are 26 years old or younger. Carclew’s mission is to embed creativity in communities, schools and careers. Most of our projects are in disadvantaged outer-metro, regional and remote South Australia, investing in the self-confidence and voice of children and young people through creativity, particularly in communities and schools with limited resources or capacity to develop their own programs.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently in the very early stages of a filmmaking project with Expressway Arts. We have about 20 young people aged between 14 – 20 who have expressed an interest in making a film about life for them in the Southern Suburbs of Adelaide. The project will be facilitated by award winning writer, actor and filmmaker, Craig Behenna (One Eyed Girl) and will be a long term, youth led project around the theme of “The Space Between…”.
I have also just started development on the SAYarts’ ‘On The Fringe’ Ensemble’s next work that will have its world premiere at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival. This ensemble devises and presents new work each year for Adelaide Fringe. Past works include: #nofilter, the award winning Everybody Dies by Ben Brooker and Claire Glenn, Macbeth Re-Arisen by David Mence, Child X and I Still Have No Friends by Alan Grace. This new work will use cults as a framework for exploring bullying and finding your place in the world. We will be in development for three terms before going into rehearsals and then performance. This group is made up of 11 – 17 year olds.
I am also currently the co-Artist in Residence with Sean Riley at Felixstow Community School and I’m working with 5-11 year olds, also with SAYarts. Later in the year I’ll be heading off to Whyalla for my third collaboration with D’Faces of Youth Arts. I am really starting to feel like I’m part of that community.
What would you say is unique or innovative about the youth arts sector in Australia, just now?
I feel really fortunate to be living in South Australia where there is such a strong youth arts sector. Adelaide is home to three of the leading children’s theatre companies in the world: Windmill, Slingsby and Patch. Carclew is unique as, alongside its programs that encourage participation, it also manages state government divulged funds for youth theatre organisations and early career artists. Adelaide is also home to the dreamBIG Festival. There are also so many incredible makers of work for or with children and young people: Rosemary Myers, Andy Packer, Dave Brown, Sean Riley, Naomi Edwards – and I could go on!
I’m also really proud of the child/youth driven work within the South Australian sector that is amplifying the voices of young people and supporting them. Urban Myth did this for years and I was fortunate enough to work for them. Now we have companies like SAYarts (who I also work with and absolutely adore) and the True North Youth Theatre Ensemble. And regionally there are amazing companies and artists who are making work with and supporting young artists. I’m thinking of D’Faces of Youth Arts, Riverland Youth Theatre, Act Now, Edwin Kemp Attrill, Stu Nankivell, Alysha Herrmann, Deb Hughes, Olivia White and so many more! NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Arts) has acting programs for young people in Adelaide and agents and casting directors run workshops too. Expressway Arts, itself, aims to locate and support young artists and creatives in the Southern Suburbs of Adelaide and two of their projects, Run Zombie Run and Losing Faith In Unicorns (which I’m proud to say I facilitated and directed) were finalists at the Arts South Australia Ruby Awards in 2015 and 2017.
There are so many people and organisations doing incredible work in South Australia that I could talk about them all day. If you want to know, get in touch with me while I’m in Edinburgh.
You’re visiting Scotland for the Edinburgh International Children’s Festival – what is it about this festival that excites you?
So much! I’ve wanted to come to this Festival for years and when the opportunity to attend this year’s Festival came up I took it. I’m really excited to see Baba Yaga because I am a huge fan of Shona Reppe and Rosemary Myers. I’m really looking forward to the Baba Yaga – In Conversation so I can find out more about the process and development of the work. I’m thrilled to be attending so many networking and professional development events! I want to learn about what other makers from around the world are doing, what’s important to them and how they are supporting and collaborating with children and young people. I’m also really interested in finding out more about the PUSH Program. Plus, I’m super excited to be chatting to YTAS more and to possibly opening some pathways for international collaboration. So many conversations to be had with so many incredible people! It’s going to be amazing.
What do you hope to get out of the festival and your trip to Scotland?
I definitely want to connect with other youth theatre makers from around the world and to explore possibilities for collaboration and connection with those makers and companies. I want to see the excellent work that they are making and how they are engaging with children and young people. I want to have lots of conversations with inspirational artists and I want to enjoy the long days of the Scottish summer.
How can youth theatre change the world?
Children and young people have things to say and stories to tell. They are listening. They are observing. They are seeing the world around them. They have the right to talk about their lives, their world, their loves, their fears. They have the right to be entertained, to be thrilled, to be inspired. And we, as youth theatre makers, have a responsibility to them to support them in telling their stories, to guide them, to make them think and make them laugh. Youth Theatre is changing the world because it is listening to children and young people and it is nurturing and supporting them in creating their own futures.