23 July 2020

Toolkits Participants Q&A, 2


We are so excited to begin our second season of Toolkits 2020, and decided to have a quick chat with some of our Season 2 Toolkits participants from Toolkits Regional Playwriting, Graphic Narratives, Digital Storytelling and Poetry, to get to know them better!

What are some of your interests?

Leela (Toolkits Poetry): My interests include lino printing, travel, and local flora and fauna. My lino designs are usually inspired by the imagery and era of my favourite writers’ works. This is often Modernist literature, and I am currently working my way through classic Australian novels. I love these works’ themes around selfhood and Australian identities, which inform my research and inspire my writing.

Jamila (Toolkits: Regional Playwriting): My favourite play right now is Dry Land by Ruby Rae Spiegel, closely followed or tied with Mosquitoes by Lucy Kirkwood. Fangirls by Yve Blake is definitely in my top 5 fave plays for its authentic depictions of young people and their huge feelings! Counting and Cracking (incredible!!!) by S. Shakthidharan. Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again by Alice Birch for its fantastic feminist deconstruction of language and interpersonal behaviour. I love the existential and moral questions asked in DNA by Dennis Kelly. I am always affected by Blasted by Sarah Kane.

Tahlia (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives):  I’m interested in art and drawing and illustrating. I also love reading books and have always loved comedy and the art of stand-up.

Panda (Toolkits: Digital Storytelling): I love GIFs, blogs / tumblrs (remnants of my time as an emo Tumblr baby), video & interactive sound. Anything that looks like an old school Myspace page with customised digital elements (making a digital space uniquely yours). I also love games and gameplay as someone who watches a lot of Animal Crossing Island Tours on Youtube. The interactivity element of games is really exciting and fun, but I also love the voyeurism of gameplay (which reflects so much of digital life, the act of watching is really pronounced and interesting.)

Naomi (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): I get curious about a lot of things like making shelves, rock- and crystal-carving, printmaking, bookmaking, lyric essays and citation poetry. Graphic narrative is my current obsession. In terms of writing, Yanyi has been one of my guiding lights. I’m not really aiming for a consistent or masterful practice – I’m just exploring how to be my whole self!

Jai (Toolkits: Regional Playwriting): I have so many plays that I consider “favorites” that I just can’t narrow it down to one. I do love classic and new Australian works including Blackie Blackie Brown, Picnic at Hanging Rock: Tom Wright adapted from Joan Lindsay’s novel, Away, Cosi and Whale. I do love works by William Shakespeare including Macbeth and Richard 3 as well as classic works such as The Glass Menagerie. Some of my inspirations including Nakkiah Lui, Lally Katz, and anything musical theatre by Stephen Sondheim and Lin Manuel Miranda.

Mandy (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): I guess my biggest interest has always been drawing – I love to use bright and bold colours, and drawing a variety of characters and environments. I’m also a really big fan of TTRPGs so a lot of my personal art during these past few years has been drawing my friends’ and my characters in the situations they encounter themselves in.

Last spring I also joined a dragon dancing team, and it has kind of taken over my life – it has a lot of the “friendship energy” you can find in shonen sports manga so it’s definitely one of the things I cherish the most at the moment.

Leila (Toolkits: Poetry): I spend a lot of time in Asian supermarkets buying mock meats, soy sauces and dried funghi. I am really curious about how ingredients have circulated and been translated through cultures and geographies. I find cooking, sharing and eating to be spiritually and emotionally grounding, it is one of the few ways I feel a connection to my ancestors and culture. Along with food, I also enjoy dancing in fancy clothes, watching YouTube and reflecting on my relation to this stolen land.

Mia (Toolkits: Digital Storytelling): Video games, narrative podcasts, animated graphic narratives, and sensory sound works. 

What are you most looking forward to or most excited for about your Toolkits program?

Leela (Toolkits Poetry): I am really looking forward to learning from the Toolkits: Poetry mentors, and I believe the variety in the course will be an engaging way to build confidence and deepen my knowledge of poetry. I’m excited about meeting the other participants and sharing our work and passion for poetry.

Jamila (Toolkits: Regional Playwriting): I’m most looking forward to meeting everyone! I’m looking forward to hearing their experiences of living regionally and how that informs, or doesn’t inform, their work as playwrights. I’m eager to hear their perspectives on theatre, their values, and goals for the future of what theatre in Australia will look like and be. I am so excited to meet this group of people, to fall in love with their work, become their fan and champion their work.

Tahlia (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives):  I’m excited to learn new techniques and to learn from others. I’m excited to be experimental with my art and to workshop and improve my own comic work. I want to find out more about my own art style because I think it’s still growing.

Panda (Toolkits: Digital Storytelling): I think that digital is an accessible medium in many ways (don’t have to be in a public space to access it, can be adapted to different readers’ needs) and you can utilise sound, visual and internet in a really stimulating and interesting way. I spend a lot of time on the internet (my screentime sucks lol) and I think it heavily influences the way I reference and visualise my poems. I think working with a digital medium will give me more scope to experiment with and shape my work to be playful…silly…fun.

Naomi (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): I’m excited to share with other comic artists and challenge myself to craft more complex/sustained stories and comic essays! Most of my comics I just send to close friends, so I am excited to develop work that I can feel great about pitching and publishing.

Jai (Toolkits: Regional Playwriting): I’m most looking forward to working with 7 other regional aspiring playwrights and being mentored by Jessica Bellamy. Each playwright will bring a unique voice and style to the group that will benefit our own individual practice.

Mandy (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): The thing I’m most excited about is meeting and connecting with other Melbourne-based creatives. When it comes to the arts, I find that often building a sense of community leads to improvement and newfound knowledge, as you’re inspiring and supporting others and building each other up – so I’m mostly looking forward to meeting everyone else and hopefully making new friends!

I’m also looking forward to learning from the program mentors, and gaining some new perspectives and insights into the world of Graphic Storytelling. I was really excited about the program when applying, so I’m really glad to have the opportunity to participate.

Leila (Toolkits: Poetry): I am feeling excited to connect and exchange work with other writers during Toolkits: Poetry. It’s been hard to stay hopeful lately, but being part of a creative community is one of the things that keeps it alive for me. Even before the pandemic, creative practice has been a bit of a lonely place for me, so I am really looking forward to having dialogue with, and getting some guidance from more experienced peers.

Mia (Toolkits: Digital Storytelling): I consume most of my literature online. I want to create in the digital medium because of its fundamental qualities of being accessible, immediate and an ideal canvas for experimentation and play. The digital medium holds possibilities for new ways of telling and consuming stories, through multiple perspectives, non-linear stories, and for redefining the literary canon. I am looking forward to developing my technical skills in different platforms to be able to experiment with bridging the gap between print and digital spaces.

What are you currently working on/What do you want to work on in Toolkits?

Leela (Toolkits Poetry): As a reader, I find it exhilarating when a poet captures a complex and elusive, yet familiar, dynamic in few words. I enjoy many types of literature, but am particularly drawn to the ‘voice’ I feel poetic forms enable, and the opportunity to experiment with this as a beginner writer. I am also fascinated by the incredibly long, varied history of poetry.

Jamila (Toolkits: Regional Playwriting): I love that by writing a play I’m not just creating something to exist as text on a page, but I’m providing the skeleton and the lungs of a beast that is ready to be picked up, have the kiss of life breathed into it, and transported into the physical world. I love the inherent political nature of playwriting, that my words are bigger than myself, and will claim a moment in time to be spoken on a stage. I love writing moments where I know I will break the audience’s heart, or make them laugh.

Tahlia (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): I’ve always loved art and cartoons and comedy and stories and I feel as though graphic storytelling is a great format that combines all of these loves of mine. I love how funny and unpredictable a lot of comics can be and I love how weird I’m able to get in my comic writing.

Panda (Toolkits: Digital Storytelling): I’m currently working with an artist to add visual elements to my poetry, but it would be cool to figure out how to add interactive elements, like animation / linking / effects to make my poetry more immersive. I’m also thinking about website design / using the format of a website to make poetry. I also want to work out if I can make a poem game / use Animal Crossing to perform and publish my work—the custom elements of Animal Crossing are so interesting and have lots of potential.

Naomi (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): It is a way of working that is super comforting in its flexibility. To quote Mia Nie (@girlwithhorn): “What I LOVE about comics is that there are so many moving parts. You can be crap at cartooning, illustrating, writing, even drawing, and STILL make fantastic comics, because there are just so many formal components.” I love this because when I’m going through a period where I don’t have many words – or my drawing skills are rusty – it is still enough to tie a comic together.

Jai (Toolkits: Regional Playwriting): I love that playwriting is an artform that is to be read aloud by an actor or group of actors. Each time a play is performed it will change depending on its interruption by the actors or creative team. That to me is exciting as the work is subjective to individual interruption.

Mandy (Toolkits: Graphic Narratives): One of my favourite things about Graphic storytelling is how it allows for world-building to come from tangible visuals and not just from descriptions. I find that by being able to see the world, we are able to not only see it through the protagonist’s eyes but also to create our own perception of it by the ways in which we can relate to what we’re seeing. As an illustrator, I’m also very fond of being able to take my own characters and draw them in different settings and situations, so I find this type of storytelling both fun to create and to consume.

Leila (Toolkits: Poetry): I think poetry fosters an experience of reading and writing where there is room to move around between meanings. I can build a malleable space for myself through words. Putting words together is a really cathartic process. When I write to myself, I have permission to exist however I need to exist. I hope that my writing can build spaces where other people can find safety and affirmation too.

Mia (Toolkits: Digital Storytelling): I am currently working on two long form pieces of writing. One is an ecofeminist work set in Far North Queensland about the decline of flying foxes, and body autonomy. One is a fiction piece about past lives, identity and forgiveness. For both of these works, I would like to develop an interactive story that correlates with the original story. I would like for this digital work to function as a stand alone piece, as well as an extension of the story worlds.


For more information on our Toolkits and Toolkits: Live program (which you can participate in right now!) visit our website.