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Catching up with ...... James Raggatt

Making creative work in these strange times feels different than it did prior to covid-19 taking centre stage. We were lucky to just get to the last performance of The Blood of Kings with TheatreiNQ, closing only days before the country entered its first lockdown. In the two years that have followed, developing creative work, especially for live performance, in NSW has seemed a futile endeavour. There has been little appetite in our country’s leadership to support independent artists during this period, and even if we could create work together, no one would have been able to see it for the most part. But hope is re-emerging, creators are getting back into their rhythm, breathing, at last, with the possibility of making live work for a living audience again. And that’s where I find myself: re-enthused, and returning to the page (of sorts) to get making.

This year has marked the beginning of a big journey for me. I have set out to develop a piece that a long time friend / some time colleague of mine and I have been dreaming up for the past 4 years. Its content is inspired by a topic I have wanted to explore creatively for a long while. Its style is inspired by the works of Loyd Newson of DV8, and Simon McBurney of Complicité, theatre companies in the UK whose content and approach I’ve admired for years. We are working on a verbatim theatre piece using interviews with people from all over Australia (and from around the world, where we can) about their experiences of, and philosophies about, sex. It’s an intriguing and certainly a daunting task, which makes it all the more exciting. I’m currently in the interview phase, talking with people from all walks of life about their experiences. I’m loving the process so far. The stories I’ve been gathering have ranged from the thrilling to the toxic to the bizarre, to the heartwarming and the loving.

Each person has such interesting insight to offer on this topic, and I’m really looking forward to moulding the contributions to the stage over the coming year or two. I finish each interview with a particular sort of elation. There is something deeply compelling about being given the opportunity to sit with people, and allow them a moment of vulnerability and self-reflection. I feel like I’ve been given a gift to get to do this, and then I realise it is me who gave it to me! It is a privilege to get to do this kind of work. I am honoured by the people who sit with me to share themselves. I have always been amazed by the ways that the skills of the actor are transferable to other kinds of practice. Such skills are perfect for conducting interviews which require careful listening and instinctive responses.

I’ve also recently finished working the front of house for Stacks On and TheatreiNQ’s Sydney season of Orphans, which many of you will have seen in Townsville in February. It was wonderful to go and support some of our family do their thing, and the audience response was terrific. So proud of that team! What a show! We were set up in a warehouse in Camperdown. Brittany, JT and Lachlan did such an amazing job with it, and we all had fun bumping out after the closing performance - with lots of rain of course! I’m sure they’ll have more to say about their experience in blogs to come.

So, on we go, dreaming up new projects and patiently bringing our imaginations to life. And not a moment of it goes by that we are not grateful for our foundations up in North Queensland, with ongoing, ever strengthening relationships and aspirations.

See you all up there again soon,

James xx

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