Running successfully since 2004, Griffin Ambassadors is an annual access-all-areas program for Year 10 to 12 students supported by the Robertson Foundation. The year-long program is stocked with a hearty menu of workshops, performances and access to industry professionals, all geared to support the next generation of theatre-goers and theatremakers.
We caught up with one of our awesome Ambassadors, Jess (Year 12), who gave us some insight into her experience as part of the program over the last three years.
Hi Jess! What’s helping you through lockdown?
Music and spending time with my family and dog has helped me get through this lockdown. It’s crazy how much time I have for music and family compared to my usual schedule. I have also just finished a four week online writing course with (Griffin’s Literary Associate) Julian Larnach and some other Griffin Ambassadors, which was always the highlight of my week. It was great to socialise with other like-minded people.
When did you first realise you loved theatre?
Through Shakespeare in Year 7. Our class did a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was Titania. It wasn’t great, but ever since I have been enamoured by the process of theatremaking.
What’s been the best show you’ve seen on stage (anywhere)?
Dogged, this year at Griffin. I loved every aspect of the production, especially Sandy Greenwood’s performance, she was pure brilliance!
What does being a Griffin Ambassador mean to you?
Being a Griffin Ambassador has meant that I have had access to new Australian theatre that I would otherwise not have access to, and I have been able to meet other young people who share the same passion for theatre. I have been able to see nine plays over my three years of being an Ambassador, and all nine have given me new insight into the importance of Australian independent theatre.
What do you feel you’ve learned through Ambassadors that you couldn’t have learned at school?
I feel like the current education system places an emphasis on ‘classics’ which negates the new perspectives and brilliant works being produced within Australia, such as the plays produced at Griffin. I have also learnt about all the aspects that go into the creation of a play, which English and Drama at school don’t necessarily place an emphasis on. The playwriting workshops I have participated in over the last couple of years gave me a sound basis for the process of writing my English Extension 2 major work, which was a play.
What has been your favourite part(s) of the program?
Definitely the workshops, they have provided me with so many new skills and exercises in order to refine my writing tool kit. The workshops help you learn from the best, in a way that is accessible and fun. I also have really enjoyed the Q&A sessions after the plays. I think they are great opportunities to help clarify understanding and learn about what happens behind the scenes.
Have you met new people through Ambassadors?
I have! It’s great to meet new people from all across NSW who have the same interests as me. Being a Griffin Ambassador has been awesome for hanging out with new people.
What do you hope to do after school?
I hope to study political science or journalism at university. Being in Year 12 this year, during the second outbreak, there have been a lot of changes and uncertainty regarding my future, however, I know for certain that I want to continue playwriting and engaging with Australian theatre.
What would you tell another high school student who was wanting to get more involved with theatre?
Be a Griffin Ambassador! I know that’s cliché for me to say, but it is genuinely the easiest way to engage with the theatre community, and learn about how theatre is made. The other suggestion I have is to start making and writing your own plays with your friends. I know that’s a weird suggestion, but I feel like collaborating with like-minded people in making theatre can lead to greatness.
You’ve just finished a four week playwriting course with Griffin’s Literary Associate, Julian Larnach. Any advice on how someone could get started writing their magnum opus?
Just get started! You will never produce a great piece of writing without starting. One of the best ways to start, which I learnt from Julian, is automatic writing. Don’t try to be clever, or funny, just write a series of statements beginning with a simple phrase, such as “I remember”, and see where your mind takes you.
If you, or someone you know, would like to be a Griffin Ambassador, submit an Expression of Interest.