On the Couch with Candy Bowers

Candy Bowers_by Rob BlackburnWho is Candy Bowers?
I am a truth-talking writer/performer who makes fearless sticky work that cuts and warms in equal measures. I’m an outlier and a cultural warrior. I seek and build platforms for artists and communities on the margins. Poetry, hip hop philosophy, soul music, comedy and choreography are my weapons of choice.

I am a big-assed rap diva with a degree in acting from the National Institute of Dramatic Arts and 15 years experience performing original, rather political and fiercely feminist (on that dope intersectional tip) theatre and comedy across Australia, the UK and the US.

My heritage is mixed (Xhosa/ Chinese/ Dutch – just the top 3) my parents sought political asylum in Australia from Apartheid South Africa in the 1970’s. I identify as Blasian. The personal is political and my art is both.

What would you do differently to what you do now? 
If I could do anything in the world? I’d have learnt to break-dance when I was a kid and stopped eating sugar sooner.

Who inspires you and why?
Angela Davis, Alice Walker, Shona Rhimes, Jason Wing, Ellen DeGeneres, Bell Hooks, Malcom Gladwell, Anna Deveare Smith, Donna Williams, Birdgang, ill-Abilities Katori Hall, Lila Watson…. All these folks have written or performed or achieved great things that I think about daily, weekly and monthly. They are outliers: brilliant, bold and courageous. They have caught me up in my chest and taken my breath through perfect wording or artistic expression. They are fighters and activists.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Fund free dental clinics across disadvantaged communities.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I would travel to London for the Bank Holiday weekend, specifically that weekend in order to attend the Breakin’ Convention – An International Hip Hop Dance Theatre Festival at Sadler’s Wells in Islington. I attended it this year and I would like to do it again and again.

London is piping New York as top holiday spot for me at the moment because the hip hop and spoken word theatre scene is thriving right now. If you’d asked a month ago I’d have said New York for Harlem and hearing soul and funk music every other day, but now it’s London for the poetry and the experimental dance scene.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
We do the Laneways in town for the graffiti and coffee, Gertrude Street for food and clothes and Black Dot Gallery for the black art.

What are you currently reading?
The News by Alain De Botton and Twelfth Night… by Will Shakespeare.

What are you currently listening to?
Janae Monae, Kimbra, Otis Redding, Noah Slee.

Happiness is?
Easy – or else it ain’t.

What does the future hold for you?
Along with my role at Circus Oz I am also partaking in some exciting activities of my own that will come to fruition in the next five years: Queensland Theatre Company have commissioned me and my sister to write and compose a new music theatre work based on Twelfth Night entitled Twelve… a soul musical from the streets by Candy B and Busty Beatz.­

I am also travelling to London, South Africa and Chicago to work with my Global Mentors and grow as a performer and cultural leader. The future holds wonderful collaborations, international tours and international presentations of both my original small-scale and large-scale works. I am looking to spending time at the world hottest theatres and bringing excellent models and practices back down under.

Candy Bowers is a passionate performer of fearless theatre, music and spoken word. Since graduating from the acting course at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in 2001, Candy has performed with Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir St Theatre and Queensland Theatre Company.

She has been a guest on Q&A (ABC TV), published in Yours Truly (Penguin), written for Legally Brown (SBS TV) and hosted The Circle (Channel Ten). Her early career highlights include playing the Sydney Opera House, touring every major Australian arts festival and hitting the Edinburgh Fringe with the cult hip-hop comedy act SISTA SHE.

Recently Candy has been creating original work through Black Honey Company with her sister Kim ‘Busty Beatz’ Bowers, and devising deliciously sticky works like Hot Brown Honey Burlesque and twelve – a soul musical from the streets (after Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night commissioned by Queensland Theatre Company).

In 2012-2013, Black Honey Company toured to 250 schools, playing to over 20,000 children with their kids show MC Platypus and Queen Koala’s Hip Hop Jamboree. Candy is proud to say she has played a rapping marsupial for a living and is now rocking it with Circus Oz!

Candy can be seen in Circus Oz’s latest show But Wait…There’s More under the Big Top in Birrarung Marr from 18 June 2014. For more information, visit: www.circusoz.com for details.

Image: Candy Bowers – photo by Rob Blackburn