On the Couch with Emma Beech

AAR-Emma-Beech-photo-by-Marnya-RotheWho is Emma Beech?
I am someone who has failed a lot and succeeded sometimes in both art and life. I studied acting at Flinders Drama Centre and came out wondering how would it be that someone would actually pay me to do this best of jobs. I couldn’t stand sitting by the phone that wasn’t ringing, and as a shy 20 year old, I decided to start making my own work. I said yes to all sorts or weird and wonderful things, ended up with an experimental theatre company in Denmark working with artists from all over Europe, and from there, learned that you can make something from nothing, magic from an idea and joy from a story well told in many different ways.

I am now a mum of 7-year old triplets, I work full time making theatre work for myself, with visual artists, directors and theatre companies locally and interstate and sometimes on screen. My work gets bigger, better and more challenging with each thing I do and I am relishing all that comes from making my own show about my family and my life inspired by a box of photos given to me by my dad. I am one of nine children, and though the box was small, the memories and all that is left unsaid is big, like many families, and I am proud that Vitalstatistix, Brink Productions and the Adelaide Festival are supporting me all the way.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I would be selling wine, working in waste management or helping struggling parents. As the mum of 7-year old triplets, I’ve been there.

Who inspires you and why?
So many people, so I’ll just focus on right now. Filmmaker Shalom Almond who is making the films for my show, and Mish Grigor, who is directing – their artistic rigor and personal strength. Comedian / actor Kitty Flanagan, so funny, so good. Deborah Mailman, what can’t she do? I’m inspired by people who don’t complain but have great insight into their lives, and all the interesting people I have met who have been so willing to chat to me and let me turn their stories into a performance. These people all inspire me because they are not chasing a huge dream or grand plan but find so much in their lives as they are and shine as a result. I think I have been chasing rainbows all my life, so this greatness in smallness is a balm for me.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would talk less and listen WAAAYYY more. To everyone, even if – and maybe especially if – I don’t like what’s coming out of their mouths.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
My parents house in Barmera, the Riverland – my old bed, home cooked meals, dear friends and the river. It is where I truly unwind. Aarhus in Denmark, my favourite city in the world, for its architecture, culture and charm.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The Adelaide Central Markets for breakfast (who wouldn’t?), a walk through the backstreets and the parklands, a quick visit to the art galleries including Ace Open and Tandanya, back home to my place to play a wild game with my children, and then in the car and off to the southern beaches.

What are you currently reading?
A biography on Heath Ledger. Such a wonderful actor, such a complicated life story in the end.

What are you currently listening to?
My children currently dominate my spotify, so I’m too embarrassed to tell you what my ears are exposed to mostly, and I can’t seem to stop listening to Tim Ferriss. He has some awesome guests who have so many great things to say. And I seem to be retreating back into my teenage years, so Pearl Jam, Mazzy Star and Radiohead are back with a vengeance.

Happiness is?
Tricky to catch so don’t try too hard. It tends to run away if I do.

What does the future hold for you?
There’s definitely a change in the air. I’ve been making my own solo work for 17 years now, it’s time to perform more with others and with words I didn’t make up myself, in theatre and film.

Emma is the creator of and performer in the world premiere of The Photo Box – which will be presented in the Space Theatre – Adelaide Festival Centre as part of the 2022 Adelaide Festival: 3 – 7 March. For more information, visit: www.adelaidefestival.com.au for details.

Image: Emma Beech – photo by Marnya Rothe