17 February 2021
Get to Know You: Left to Write Facilitator, Fleur Kilpatrick!
Meet Fleur Kilpatrick, our Playwriting Community Facilitator for Left to Write!
Fleur is an award-winning playwright, a director and educator, focused on building a kinder, more sustainable theatre community. Her plays have won the Max Afford (Whale, 2018), Jill Blewett (Blessed, 2016), the inaugural Helen Noonan Award (Whale, 2019) and the Melbourne Fringe Best Emerging Playwright Award. She holds a postgraduate diploma of directing and a Masters in playwriting from the VCAM. She was a lecturer at Monash University for five years and, in 2020, won the Monash Student Association (MSA) award for Excellence in Teaching in the Arts Faculty. As an academic, she researches how to teach care to theatre makers and as a playwright she writes theatre of climate change.
We had a quick chat with Fleur about her creative process, community and what she’d up to outside of facilitating Left to Write this year!
How has digital spaces and social media impacted your own creative process and sense of community?
I’ve found digital spaces really exciting. It made me a beginner again. That was really liberating. Asking the most basic questions – what is theatre? Who is my audience? Who are my collaborators? What can this artform do? – felt good for my work. I suspect we should return to these questions more regularly than I have been. Plus, I’ve loved being able to collaborate long-distance. I’m writing this from my tiny caravan in the Clare Valley. Later today I will have a rehearsal with a director in Melbourne. I’ll balance my laptop on a stump and, with an audience made up of the neighbour’s alpacas and approximately one million corellas, get to work on the opening of act three.
How important is a sense of community and connection to your work as a creative? And what are some ways you have assured this (or not!) throughout your life?
It is everything. I think playwriting is the most community-oriented form of writing: I’m writing words for others to inhabit and speak. I am writing a workplace and a community into existence. An audience itself can also become a community over the course of a performance. The new script I’m writing at the moment is all about this: how we find or hold or rebuild a community in the wake of loss and displacement.
What have you been working on recently?
I’m in rehearsal for a new verbatim theatre piece called Rebel, which tells the story of older conservation and climate activists around Australia over the last year. It has been beautiful stuff to sit in during a big year of upheaval: I’m learning a lot about how to do the things you love longterm and making your practice personally sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable.
What piece of literature has inspired you and your work?
Roslyn Oades’ whole body of work but I’ll make special mention of Hello, Goodbye, Happy birthday. This work was drawn from interviews with people in nursing homes and 18-year-olds (mostly recorded at Schoolies) and performed by a cast of mixed ages, who were often voicing the words of people at the opposite end of life to themselves. I think when I started making theatre I thought that ‘cutting-edge’ meant painful and violent. I graduated into an industry that was really dominated by angry young men with loud voices, stubble and great fake blood recipes. It was works like Ros’ that showed me that you can be cutting-edge and gentle. Loving. Quiet. Full of deep respect for the interplay of voice and silence. It validated a different path. I’ll always be grateful for this lesson.
If you could time-travel, what tips would you give yourself at the very start of your career?
I think I would just say that making theatre should feel great. When I was young I thought the greater the suffering, the greater the art. Now I start any collaboration with the question ‘what do you need in order to enjoy this process?’ That question and its implications changed a lot for me and opened the door to a far more diverse array of collaborators because it makes your practice personalised to the needs and wants of those around you, rather than saying ‘this is how I do it’.
Our new 2021 initiative, Left to Write, is an online 6 week writing group, workshop and community program that aims to connect writers and encourage accountability.