On the Couch with Madeleine Humphreys

Madeleine Humphreys Arts Review On the CouchWho is Madeleine Humphreys?
I’m an emerging film, documentary and theatre director. I grew up on the beautiful North Stradbroke Island in Queensland. I avoided the loneliness and boredom of an isolated, coastal community by developing a very hyperactive imagination. Highly inspired by the few films I would watch in the cinema, on the rare occasion I commuted to the mainland. I was a wide-eyed redhead who at any opportunity would turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with storytelling. This passion at first translated into being an avid reader and continually making up short stories for my siblings, and later developed into my need to tell unique stories as a director.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
In high school I was extremely academic, I had a goal to study medicine at University. However, I discovered my love for filmmaking just after high school and have never looked back. But if I wasn’t a film and theatre director, I think I would still be somehow involved in health and science – trying to help others.

Who inspires you and why?
I have many inspirations. My mother has always inspired me as she is the strongest woman I know, with the best work ethic, commitment and perseverance. I am inspired by all female directors as there are very few to look up to and each one has faced so many adversaries and challenges to get where they are, yet are so undeniably talented. And I am inspired by directors such as Ivo Van Hove, Lars Von Trier, and Alejandro González Iñárritu, who have broken the status quo by really creating art that challenges both its form and audience.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would continue to do what I am doing now – I would make art. I truly believe that whether it be a film, novel, documentary or theatre production, art has the greatest ability to touch people in a profound way. I know that I myself have formed an opinion after reading an amazing book, been inspired to take action after watching a courageous film, or discovered empathy for something after seeing a great theatre production. I want to continue to do this for others. I want to continue to create content that surprises and inspires audiences by showing them all the human condition is capable of.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
It depends on the type of holiday. If I wanted an adventure, my favourite holiday destination is traveling to places I have never been before, to experience new cultures and meet new people. The next adventure I really want to take is trekking through Nepal. But if I just wanted a relaxing holiday I would go home to North Stradbroke Island in Queensland. I may be biased, but it has the best beaches in Australia and feels like such an escape from the rest of the world – it’s my little slice of heaven!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
As I have only been living in Sydney for a year, I still feel like the biggest tourist myself. But if friends were to come, I would immediately take them to the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I know this isn’t very original but I just love this part of Sydney on a sunny day – the hustle and bustle of people, the cruise ships with excited passengers awaiting, and the sparkling harbour water. I would also take my friends to the hidden museum that not many people know about that is in the Harbour Bridge itself – it has an amazing view and beautiful Australian stories. This is how I would make it more original.

What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I saw a trailer for the new television show based on the book that looked fantastic and decided to read the book as I wasn’t familiar with the story. I am loving Atwood’s novel, it is so morbid and has such a strong female heroine/anti-heroine. However, it is proving harder and harder to stomach this disturbing dystopian fiction given its uncanny parallels to current world politics.

What are you currently listening to?
As I am right in the middle of directing a new theatre production titled Salem, inspired by Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, I am mainly listening to the score we have created for that. However, I did recently discover the Australian artist Tash Sultana, and I adore her loop pedal melodies.

Happiness is?
Happiness is waking up every morning and doing the thing you love doing, with the support of people you love. It is so simple to write, yet I think very difficult to stay true to oneself.

What does the future hold for you?
I hope to continue growing as a female film and theatre director, pursuing projects that are innovative while pushing social and stylistic boundaries. I want to create more stories that empower women by portraying complex, multifaceted leading female characters – an act not often seen. I want to continue to explore how theatre and film, as two different art mediums, can meet in the middle; creating unique ‘theatrical’ films or ‘cinematic’ theatre productions. But ultimately, in the future I want to keep taking risks creating new work that surprises and inspires change.

Inspired by Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Madeleine has co-created and directed Salem at the Playhouse – NIDA Theatres: 7 – 14 June 2017. For more information, visit: www.nida.edu.au for details.

Image: Madeleine Humphreys – courtesy of NIDA