I am a performer and lecturer, and artistic director of Nottingham based Zoo Indigo. The company devises autobiographical performance, combining dark humour, song, live music and multimedia in a kaleidoscopic approach, creating politically charged performances. I have recently completed a PhD at Lancaster University, and my current practice with Zoo Indigo investigates themes of home, displacement and migration.
I have previously worked as an actress in Germany, a lecturer at De Montfort University, Leicester and at Nottingham Trent University International College, and as an elf in a Santa’s Grotto.
Tell us please, what you do at University of Worcester
I am the course leader of the Masters in Touring Theatre, and a senior lecturer, teaching Devising and Physical theatre, Performance and Digital Media, and Site-Specific Performance. I also direct devised productions on the MTheatre course, using visual and physical theatre techniques. The productions are hugely enjoyable and co-devised with the students, and we tour the work to schools, arts centres, and to the Edinburgh Fringe.
What led you to teaching?
As a child a wanted to become a writer and daydreamed of sharing my skills with crowds of people in big lecture halls. (As a theatre practitioner, working with much smaller groups in a performance space is much preferable!) I got into teaching and directing youth theatre productions as part of my work with my theatre company, and when I started studying towards my PhD I began lecturing – which I love. Working with the students inspires my own practice, and directing the touring productions is a hugely rewarding collaborative process, driven by the students’ ideas, creativity and enthusiasm.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The creativity and the connections with the students, co-producing innovative performance work with emerging artists. It is especially rewarding when students reach their final year and present independent projects. This year we took a group of MTheatre students to the Brighton Fringe, and seeing their innovative and brazen performances in a professional context in front of a public audience was an immense joy!
I also work with some amazing people, I love my colleagues, who are all brilliant researchers, lecturers and practitioners – and friends. You might occasionally spot a group of us out in Worcester, socialising on a night out.
And the least?
I commute from Nottingham and stay overnight a few nights a week, to work in Worcester. I really miss my kids!
Anything exciting coming up?
I am working on a book about my PhD research, which is in equal measures thrilling and terrifying!
I am also currently touring my new show Don’t Leave Me This Way with my theatre company Zoo Indigo, with performance dates in Derby, London, Leicester – and a weeklong run in Germany.
Who is the (living) artist of practitioner you most look up to?
German choreographer Pina Bausch, who died of cancer in 2009, but her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal, is still touring her dance-theatre works around the globe. Her performances are gut-wrenching yet hilarious, exploring human emotions, our vulnerabilities and desires, and our yearning for intimacy. The work is personal yet political, and merges visceral dancing and spectacular scenography with intimate moments of confession and gentle humour – and no other performance work can make me weep and laugh and fill me with wonder about human nature in the same way. Seeing her work made me want to make theatre.
What is your favourite drink?
Coffee in the day; Prosecco after dark.
I was born in Germany and lived there for 22 years. I studied Theatre in Erlangen and worked as an actress for an award-winning touring theatre company. I completed my degree in the UK, studying Drama at De Montfort University, where I met my best friend and collaborator Rosie. We founded our theatre company Zoo Indigo on one wine filled afternoon in 2001, and have been working together ever since, devising, writing and performing our own work in collaboration with dancers, musicians and media artists. Our work tours nationally and internationally, and we also present our research at conferences around the work. We also create films and site-specific performances and publish articles on our performances.