On the Couch with Janice Florence

Weave-Movement-Theatre-Janice-FlorenceWho is Janice Florence?
I am a Disabled performer and have been the Artistic Director of Weave Movement Theatre (a company of Disabled artists) for the past 25 years. In my role at Arts Access Victoria, I am also an advocate and consultant to the Arts industry on access matters for Deaf and Disabled audiences and artists. I have also been a teacher, a librarian, and a disability advocate. I have a wide range of interests and a great deal of curiosity.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I have had a fantasy about being a botanist, a writer, a professional knitter on a remote Scottish island, and a musician in a grand symphony orchestra.

Who inspires you and why?
Hugh McKay, the Social Researcher who has delivered wise and tempered opinions on social matters for many years. Climate scientists. Honest politicians who don’t always parrot the party line. Musicians and composers. Many Artists. Greta Thunberg. Comedy writers who lighten my life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would do what I am doing to remove discrimination and human rights violations against Deaf and Disabled people. Fight for a more just system for refugees. Be braver about expressing my opinions about climate change. Resist the greed and consumerism we are encouraged to participate in. Read more. Listen and think more. Attend to my friendships.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Since Covid, I haven’t strayed far. I came to appreciate my local area more. I love trains. Traveling on trains in regional Victoria is my highest ambition at the moment. It seems far enough and seems like an adventure. I have travelled overseas quite a bit in the past. Relatively affluent Australians feel entitled to regular overseas trips, but these days I worry about the morality of long-distance air travel. Maybe vague fantasies about the UK and the Cook Islands

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
The Botanic Gardens. It is beautiful and refreshing. It slows you down. If there were an exhibition in the restored old ball room upstairs at Flinders Street Station, I would take them there, a step back to old Melbourne. I would take them to Block Arcade and the tearoom there.

What are you currently reading?
I am a remiss in my reading. Many books are piled next to my bed, as I imagine suddenly having a time when I can read them all. I am slowly reading a book on choreography.

What are you currently listening to?
I listen compulsively to ABC Radio National. I am a bit of a news junkie. I love to hear intelligent discussion. I listen to quite a bit of classical music.

Happiness is?
Temporary and fluctuating. A quiet time at home with no “to do” list, meeting friends, the garden, the park, nature. A hilarious comedy. Good theatre and dance. Singing. Zooming round in my electric wheelchair at speed. A hot shower. At peace with my partner.

What does the future hold for you?
Given all the unexpected things that have happened in my life, I daren’t predict. Hopefully health, creativity in whatever form, worry about the state of the world. New realisations and discoveries – internal or external. Finally learning the ukulele and/or the piano. Being more or less free of oppression.

Janice is the Artistic Director of Weave Movement Theatre – who can be seen in their latest work, Sense of Place, at Dancehouse from 16 – 19 August 2023. For more information, visit: www.weavemovementtheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Janice Florence (supplied)