On the Couch with Cathy Petocz

Cathy Petocz oncWho is Cathy Petocz?
I am a Canberra-based theatre maker – a playwright, animateur, performer, and pop musician. I’ve just finished writing my first major play, Where You End & I Begin, which will be premiering at The Street Theatre in October.

What would you do differently to what you do now? 
I don’t think there’s anything else I’d rather be doing. If there was, I’d probably figure out how to do it and be doing it.

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by performance artist Sophie Calle, visual artist Tauba Auerbach, writer Leanne Shapton, and object artist Naomi Xeros. I am inspired by the way these artists investigate the world by fixating on details that usually go unnoticed. I like art that is searching. I write to find things. I’m also inspired by artists who are different to me, like playwright Nakkiah Lui. She has this amazingly powerful presence on Twitter – she’s outspoken and well-spoken. I don’t think I could ever have such a presence online, but I love being confronted and challenged by her to be ready to speak when things must be said.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Right now, I am concentrating on really, deeply listening to people. Everyone I meet. I want the world to be better, I want Australia to be better than it is, and I feel like I will be able to contribute to this by first stopping and listening. Action comes after that.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I am in a band called Burrows and every year we go on a holiday together on a houseboat on the Clyde River. It’s beautiful.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
This summer, the National Gallery of Australia will be showing a James Turrell retrospective, so I will be insisting all my out-of-town friends visit to see that. Their visit will probably orbit around Hotel Hotel’s bar and restaurant Monster – it’s my favourite place for breakfast, lunch, and nightcaps.

What are you currently reading?
I am always reading at least three things. Right now, Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers, Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster, and the latest issue of The Gentlewoman.

What are you currently listening to?
River by Ibeyi, Hollywood by Cracked Actor, and Mulato Astatke’s Ethio-jazz which has underpinned the writing process of Where I End & You Begin.

Happiness is?
Letting go of wanting it.

What does the future hold for you?
I will be working on a couple of creative developments for very exciting new theatre works in Canberra – working as an actor on Kill Climate Deniers by David Finnigan, and as a writer within a design-led process for Cloakroom. I am also in the process of writing some new plays, one about a woman who hires a mother and one about selfies who come alive and attempt to be real selves out in the world on their own.

Cathy Petocz is a Canberra-based theatre practitioner – a playwright, performer, animateur, and pop musician. In 2013, Cathy produced, wrote and performed in two works for You Are Here: The Near and How – an installation theatre work created in collaboration with designer Imogen Keen, and a Judy Blume-themed girl band called Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. This grubby pop band toured to Melbourne’s Emerging Writers‘ Festival in 2014, featured in frankie magazine, and released an EP in August.

Cathy has worked with significant Canberra theatre companies: co-devised and performed in installation works and children’s theatre with serious theatre (Territory, 2014; Pea!, 2013; Void Without Void, 2011), performed science-based interactive plays with Boho Interactive (Word Play, 2013; True Logic of the Future, 2010), and created an electro-theatre work with young artists for Canberra Youth Theatre (Insomniac Attack, 2012). Cathy writes and sings in the new-folk band Burrows.

Cathy wrote her first major work Where I End & You Begin as a resident of The Hive, The Street Theatre’s writing program, which will be presented 18 – 26 October 2014. For more information, visit: www.thestreet.org.au for details.

Image: Cathy Petocz