Griffin Studio: Karen Therese


Last week at Griffin Studio we ate Watermelon cake as a special treat from Lee. It was delicious.

In the coming weeks I am inviting the Griffin Studio artists to Fairfield for a breakfast of Turkish coffee and Arab sweets.

I currently work in Fairfeld as the Artistic Director of Powerhouse Youth Theatre (PYT). Fairfield is Australia’s most culturally diverse suburb, so the range and flavours of the food there is pretty remarkable. I recommend a food safari …

At PYT we are currently in pre-production for a new major work titled LITTLE BAGHDAD. ‘Little Baghdad’ is the name journalists give Fairfield because of the high proportion of Iraqi- born citizens that live there. The term is not always used in a positive light and in broader Australia there is a general misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about Iraqi culture. Our work LITTLE BAGHDAD invites audiences to look beyond what you see and hear in the media about Iraq and Iraqi -Australians.

Developing the work has been an incredible experience, so far I’ve learnt that Iraqi’s invented the concept of 360 degrees or something we call ‘a circle’ and they also introduced the concept of language. Working with Iraqi artists they think and reflect on art and culture within a spectrum of 2,000 years of history with such clarity and passion, it’s incredibly inspiring particularly when compared to the Australian cultural spectrum. I’m enhancing my connection with ancient Iraq by reading The Arabian Nights: Tales from a 1001 Nights – the infinite story.

A lot of my theatre practice involves investigations into ‘conversation’ and the concepts of ‘speaking’ or ‘giving voice’ and ‘listening’. A big part of my practice as a theatre maker is staging large- scale dinner party events that explore the potential of conversation around some of the most key issues of our times. For LITTLE BAGHDAD we are hosting three of these events called THE LONG TABLE that will include a three course Iraqi feast.

As a Griffin Studio artist I’m enjoying the conversations we have together, we all meet every Wednesday morning and talk about the many dimensions of theatre practice. There is a real mix of theatre artists in Studio this year, our focuses are broad. My focus is to work on my discourse to open up new dialogues about cultural diversity within Australian theatre. The great conversations I am having with Lee and Ben and the studio artists will lead to possibly more conversations and then perhaps, see what opportunities there may be to connect the communities and artists of Darlinghurst and Fairfield.

I’m also looking to head to the Middle East at the end of the year. ‘Place’ is important to my practice and being in the Middle East will hopefully ignite new ideas, and extend my current discourse about Australian culture.

PS. I also need to add, I am the Director of a major project called FUNPARK presented in 2014 as part of the Sydney Festival. FUNPARK invites audiences on a radical adventure to Mt Druitt. In light of the recent ‘Struggle Street’ doco and the negative impact it had on the local community we are campaigning to bring FUNPARK back. Find out more here and PLEASE DONATE. 

I look forward to seeing you in Western Sydney.
Karen Therese