Melbourne Fringe 2016

A Heartfelt Half-Octopus, Melbourne Fringe 2016

0 Comments 11 August 2016

Words by Eleanor Boydell

In an interview with the engaging Giema Contini, performance artist and theatre-maker, Eleanor Boydell dips her toe into the octopus-inspired ocean party Contini will be hosting during Fringe.

Tell me about the show you’re bringing to Fringe.

It’s called Awesome Ocean Party, and it’s a solo-show about a girl who thinks she’s half-octopus.  I’m performing at the Butterfly Club in the second week of the Festival.

What’s the inspiration behind the show?

Originally I was inspired by the idea of broken heart syndrome, where people can literally die from a broken heart.  I started to research this condition and discovered its technical medical name is Takosubo cardiomyopathy.  Discovered by a Japanese doctor, it was named for the Japanese word meaning octopus trap—this is the shape the heart can resemble as it flares or balloons out as a result of a surge of adrenaline.  I found this really interesting, and it led to some further research about the fact octopuses have three hearts.  Out of this came a fantastical story of a girl with an octopus father who’s the long-lost, last-living relative from a previous universe and a mother who has died from a broken heart and she’s all alone in the world, so she’s created this mythological version of her story.

Thatsounds pretty quirky!  What’s your medium?

It’s theatre and storytelling, with songs.  The show has cabaret elements, with the songs and a live pianist.  It’s a combination of popular music and original composition by a beautiful composer, Nathan Stoneham.

How long have you been working in this kind of practice?  Tell me a bit about your background.

I’ve been an actor/performer for many years.  I’ve worked with a physical theatre company and studied with SITI Company in New York, doing a lot of devised composition work on other people’s shows.  I also work across other disciplines—I puppeteer, I work with young people, and I have a community cultural practice.  A few years ago I was part of the Australia Council JUMP Mentoring Program, and wanted to develop my own personal theatre-making practice further—this show was born then, and is my first solo piece.

Congratulations! What does it feel like to be performing at Fringe? What do you think about the role of festivals in connecting artists and audiences?

I think that it’s a brilliant way of meeting the community in the arts.  I’ve recently relocated to Melbourne from Brisbane, and part of my objective for participating in the Festival is to get to know the Melbourne theatre and performance community, fellow artists, as well introducing myself to the Melbourne audience.  I think Fringe plays a crucial role in getting people to see art.

Do you have a sense of where you’d like to see your practice develop over future years?

I want to continue making my own work and seeing what it becomes as I mature, as well as being part of other people’s work—taking another person’s vision and helping it come to life as an actor, puppeteer, or whatever else.

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