On the Couch with Amy May Nunn

Amy-May-Nunn-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Amy May Nunn?
I’m a proudly queer and neurodiverse poet/playwright/director and performer originally from the UK. I got started writing poetry and prose through some of Melbourne’s wonderful literary organisations like The Wheeler Centre, Express Media and Australian Poetry, and then haphazardly cartwheeled into writing/making theatre after training as an actor. I’m co-founder of Dirty Pennies Theatre Project, a company dedicated to fostering new queer and female identifying voices.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an Archaeologist (thanks to Hollywood giving misleading messages about what that job actually entails). Really, I just wanted to go on wild adventures across the world and make out with Kate Capshaw, so maybe a travel writer of some kind, or a queer/feminist version of Indiana Jones.

Who inspires you and why?
Artists who can’t easily be mistaken for other artists, because they’re so invested in their authentic voice. People like Kae Tempest, Miranda July and Neil Gaiman, to name a few. It’s electric to experience their work not only because it’s highly skilled, but it’s inimitable. I’m a big believer in the idea that “in the particular is contained the universal” –  so that kind of person excites me. Also, people who remain curious and open to growth, especially as they become more established. There’s nothing more appealing than someone who wants to be inspired by others.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
There are so many extraordinary things I wish I could do, given the state of the world. But I’m a storyteller through and through, so I’d keep aspiring to tell and facilitate mind-bending, heart-stretching, empathy generating stories, and challenging myself to get better and better at it so that it can have a palpable effect in the world, or in someone’s world. That’s as good as it gets for me.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Santa Fe in New Mexico. It’s this magical hippie/cowboy town in the middle of the dessert with this rich, almost mystical history of artists being drawn there to make work. If it’s good enough for Georgia O’Keefe, it’s good enough for me.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’d take them on a tour of my favourite alleys and laneways. I find all those nooks and crannies really magic. And I would have said Grub in Fitzroy, because it’s such an eccentric and unpretentious example of what makes Melbourne special, but it doesn’t exist anymore! (Thank you Covid) And then maybe a cult classic at an open-air cinema on a balmy night.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished a brilliant novel called The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien, and recently loved Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. I read poetry every day, and really there aren’t many excuses not to! They’re hyper-condensed worlds you get to experience in the space of a few minutes, and they expand your heart and mind infinitely. Lately I’ve been loving Christina Rossetti, Lemn Sissay and revisiting Dorothy Porter’s The Monkey’s Mask (an erotic queer noir novel written entirely in poetry… does it get better?)

What are you currently listening to?
Benjamin Clementine, old episodes from This American Life, every true crime podcast ever (an unhealthy obsession, I fear). Joni Mitchell plays on loop in the jukebox of my heart. I’ve also been relishing a hardcore Tory Amos renaissance and remembering why the album Little Earthquakes is a total masterpiece. And Bony M. because my partner routinely blasts it around the house.

Happiness is?
Dancing with my mum in the kitchen, even though I can’t keep up (she’s in her sixties and can still moonwalk with the best of them). Walking in the woods behind my Dad’s house in England, soaking up all those delicious earthy moss smells. My partner’s unbridled, filthy laugh. My cat Ronson’s silly little face when he knows he’s done wrong. Drinking with kindreds and putting the world to rights. Fresh flowers. New ideas.

What does the future hold for you?
I’m at a point in my life where I really just want to be useful. It’s amazing and important to nurture goals for yourself, but I also want to be of service to more than my own growth as an artist. All of this to say, my theatre company are planning for an exciting new programme focused on LGBTQIA+ youth over the next year, and I’m so hungry to get stuck into that. Also, finally going home to see my family in London. There will be tears.

Amy May Nunn stars in Sadie Hasler’s hit play Pramkicker at Theatre Works: 14 – 18 December 2021. For more information, visit: www.theatreworks.org.au for details.

Image: Amy May Nunn (supplied)