On the Couch with Rachel Roberts

Rachel Roberts oncWho is Rachel Roberts?
I’m an actor. Until recently I was also a receptionist, and I’m a qualified secondary teacher. I have been creating work as a deviser and performer with Applespiel, and working in independent theatre in Sydney since late 2009.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I wish I was better at managing money. I wish I had a few more skills – maybe web design, maybe a second language and being able to play piano well. Those are things I could really just work towards and achieve in a few years. At least in Applespiel Make a Band and Take On the Recording Industry I get to live out some fantasies of being better at music than I really am. I wish I remembered more often to stand tall and not apologise for the space I take up. I also wish I wasn’t gluten intolerant.

Who inspires you and why?
Crystal Renn. A year ago I had no idea there were plus size models working in high fashion. A friend told me to look up Crystal and the first image I found was her walking for Jean Paul Gaultier’s 2006 prêt-à-porter collection in this incredible sheer dress and I thought she was the most beautiful, fierce thing I had ever seen. I did a lot of research and decided I wanted to give it a try, so I sought out representation and now I’m trying to break into plus size modeling alongside my theatre projects. There are also so many actors who inspire me to continue working towards bettering myself in my craf; Mark Rylance, Kathryn Hahn, Cate Blanchett, and Lauren Orrell, to name a few.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I want to help create a space to assist people without a home or permanent residence with gaining skills, finding work, finding a home and accessing medical help for free. I was going to preface that with “When I become rich and famous…” but that’s not a prerequisite for making a difference.

As an actor I want play a part in telling important stories on stages and screens – to reflect lived experiences so that they can be better understood, and to explore experiences that not everyone might be familiar with so as to increase understanding and empathy towards other people. We need to diversify our stages and screens in Australia to more accurately reflect our society in terms of race, gender, sexuality, age and experiences.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I spent some research time in Germany while I was overseas during my Artstart year and fell in love with Berlin. Of all the places I have visited, I felt like maybe I could find a groove for myself in Berlin, at least for a while. I’d love to go back and perform there, so I should really start brushing up on my German. This year I am returning to Germany for the Internationale Spieltage (International Game Day; the world’s largest board game fair) for another research trip, but I won’t make it to Berlin. I think Australia will always be my home, though. When I think about moving overseas to pursue certain opportunities I can’t imagine staying away from Australia for too long.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I’d take them to something at Performance Space. I’ve been going to shows at Performance Space (now based out of Carriageworks in Redfern) since Uni, and I am such a fan. I’ve developed and presented work for them over the past few years and I think they’re amazing. They push you as an artist, and care about their audiences.

What are you currently reading?
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Fire with Fire: The New Female Power and How To Use It by Naomi Wolf. I’ve got a stack of new books next to my bed that will have to wait for December when I get back to Australia, like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries. It’s too chunky to take away with me.

What are you currently listening to?
Recently I’ve been listening to Warpaint and Courtney Barnett. When I’m running it’s Beyonce and St Vincent. This week I’ve been listening to the Sleek Geeks podcast while I travel to Bankstown for rehearsals.

Happiness is?
A rainy day when your house is clean, and there’s nothing that needs to be done except watch Parks and Recreation. When the technical elements of the show work without glitching. Happiness is feeling like you’re kicking goals.

What does the future hold for you?
A lot, I hope. Firstly, a killer season of Applespiel Make a Band and Take On the Recording Industry at Malthouse. Then for the rest of 2014, I’ll be in residence at the London Science Museum’s Dana Centre and Battersea Arts Centre working on the final stages of Best Festival Ever: How to Manage a Disaster with BOHO Interactive. It’s an interactive tabletop performance based on Systems Science and the modeling of Complex Systems, and it’s fun so you should keep an ear out for it in 2015. We’ll be presenting the finished work this year in London as well as the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden.

Rachel Roberts is a Sydney-based actor and plus-size model. Rachel travelled to the UK in 2012 to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe, work as artist-in-residence at University College London and Battersea Arts Centre, and train at RADA and the National Youth Theatre in London. In 2013 Rachel received a Creative Young Star Grant to collaborate with Sipat Lawin Ensemble in the Philippines.

She has worked as Festival Coordinator for You Are Here, interned with version 1.0, and was artist-in-residence at Shopfront Contemporary Arts creating solo works in 2012. This year, Rachel undertook a devising secondment under Emma Valente for The Rabble’s Cain and Abel at Belvoir and will soon enter development for Best Festival Ever with Boho Interactive for presentation at the London Science Museum, Battersea Arts Centre and Stockholm Resilience Centre.

Rachel is co-devisor and performer in Applespiel Make a Band and Take On the Recording Industry being presented as part of Malthouse Theatre’s Helium initiative: 3 – 13 September. For more information, visit: www.malthousetheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Rachel Roberts

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