EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Ang Collins, Blueberry Play
Coffee with Ang Collins, Blueberry Play
Exclusive Interview by Nicole Pingon
“I wrote a really terrible play in Year 12.”
Playwright Ang Collins has not revisited this play since its conception.
“I’m pretty sure it would burn my eyes, but you have to start somewhere!”
Today, Ang is an artist wearing many creative hats, along with an eye-catching combination of pastel pink and blue. Predominately a playwright, she is also a producer, dramaturg and currently working in arts administration at Griffin Theatre Company.
Ang has a warm presence, and quietly alludes to her, “go with the flow” attitude towards life and her art. “I always carry around a notebook with me everywhere I go, to jot down anything that seems beautiful.” Ang has an undeniable trust in her intuition, which allows a very organic creative process to emerge.
“I’m a bit superstitious. If the writing doesn’t come easily, then I think maybe the story isn’t ready to be shared, or maybe I’m not ready to dive into it yet.” Rather than beginning with an intense research period, Ang’s process is more free flowing in which, “the research and dramaturgy comes later.”
Perhaps that is what gives Ang’s Blueberry Play the heart and warm nostalgic vibes audiences leave feeling so deeply within their bodies.
First conceived at ATYP’s National Studio 2016 and featuring in ATYP’s Intersection 2017, the piece began as a ten minute monologue that Ang explains, was born from a combination of her own experiences growing up in Newcastle, and her boyfriend’s experiences growing up with a sick parent.
“That was what was on my mind at the time, and it all came together really organically.”
The piece then grew into Blueberry Play as we know it today, a stupendous one-woman show navigating how wonderful life is at 17. Shortlisted for the 2017 Griffin Award, Blueberry Play had its premiere production as a part of Griffin’s Batch Festival earlier this year, brought to life by an all female power team, made up of Ang, director Sheridan Harbridge and actor Contessa Treffone.
“I felt so nervous sitting in the audience, even though I wasn’t doing anything during the performances!”
If you missed it, fear not! Blueberry Play is about to hit Sydney stages again, at the Old Fitz Theatre.
This time around, Ang has taken a step away from the work, and let the production team do their thing. “I haven’t seen it in full yet, but I’m so excited to see what Julia (Robertson) brings to the role, and how the show exists with a new set. I’m also interested to see what audience the 10pm sessions will bring in!”
While Blueberry Play is somewhat rooted in lived experiences, not all of Ang’s work comes from a deeply personal place. Recently, she’s been writing and doing dramaturgy on some “postmodern stuff”, as she continues to collaborate and create new works for her director friends.
“Learning how to live and be an adult outside of a university context is always a challenge”, Ang explains. She is currently working two jobs and trying to make a habit of writing every few days. “Even if you’re a really successful playwright, you can never solely be a playwright in Australia.”
Isn’t that something we hear all too often from artists in this country?
As of late, Ang has been spending a lot of time and energy writing applications, but would love to see more funding and opportunities within the arts in Australia.
“I think there’s a really strong arts community in Sydney, particularly amongst playwrights. We all really support each other, even though we are often going for the same opportunities.”
“We are definitely seeing more diverse voices in writing right now. The independent scene in particular is thriving with new-Australian work, but it’s hard to find free rehearsal spaces in Sydney.”
In Ang’s dream world she would buy an empty warehouse space and invite creatives to make in it, like The Pram Factory, or Softys in Newcastle.
“But you know, that’s not going to happen with Sydney’s housing affordability crisis and all… a girl’s gotta eat!”
Perhaps Ang will move back to Newcastle, buy a space and summon all Sydney artists to move with her. Newcastle is currently undergoing some serious gentrification and change, so honestly, keep your eyes peeled!
In the meantime, what wild creative endeavour is next for Ang?
“I’d love to attempt to write a screenplay, maybe a novel!” Ang shares. “I think Blueberry Play could definitely work as a screenplay.” I know I for one would absolutely love to see Blueberry Play as a screenplay in the near-distant future.
Outside of her creative endeavours, Ang has been loving gardening, cooking, sewing, bush walking, and swimming in the ocean. In fact, Ang’s capsicum plant has been really loving Sydney’s rainy days.
Whenever I’m fortunate enough to get speak to inspiring creatives like Ang, I always ask for some final words of wisdom as someone interested in creating new work.
“Don’t compare yourself with the people around you, compare yourself to your idols, even if that feels like a weird thing to do.” For Ang, these idols include American playwrights like Annie Baker and Jen Silverman.
And perhaps most important of all…
“Write what you want, not what you think you should write as a woman.”
Ang began our coffee date stating, “normally I’m the one doing interviews! I’ve never been interviewed before.”
But Ang, I’m certain you have plenty more interviews coming your way, and I absolutely can’t wait to for the world of wisdom you are going to share! Thank you for so generously sharing your joyous energy with me.