On the Couch with Maeve Marsden

Maeve Marsden oncWho is Maeve Marsden?
I’m the result of an incredibly loving family and a whole lot of luck. I’m fat, happy, indecisive and analytical, and my friend Lucy says I always look great, but in a sort of slightly disheveled, slightly bothered way. I’m an insomniac. I cook a lot, I talk a lot and I watch too much TV. Humour is my greatest weapon and my biggest joy.

What would you do differently to what you do now?   
I wish I’d had more confidence in my creative pursuits earlier on in my career and I wish I were more disciplined with time management.

Who inspires you and why?
Personally, I am inspired by my mothers, my brother and sister, my partner and friends; they are all so clever, driven, creative, funny and loving. Professionally, I am inspired by musicians who truly know how to tell a story and capture an audience – Camille O’Sullivan, Martha Wainwright, Lady Rizo, Queenie Van De Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, iOTA, Dolly Parton, Yana Alana and Antony Hegarty spring to mind right now.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Free education, available to all, designed to inspire critical thinking and analysis. Lessons that explain the notion of privilege and actively teach children about structures of oppression and histories of protest. Sex-positive, safe-sex education from an early age; I think we put children at risk by withholding information about how human bodies’ work. Comprehensive music education for all. Teaching would be one of the most revered and well-paid professions, and school would be an exciting place to be.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Somewhere I haven’t been before. I adore traveling and am only happy when I know the date and location of my next adventure. This year, I am touring interstate and in regional NSW, and I love driving through the Australian landscape. I am also going to India for the first time, which I am very excited about. Of the places I’ve been, I’d most love to go back to Cuba, Slovenia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Vietnam, Turkey and Norway.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
I live in Sydney, and when friends visit I love take them to the morning markets at Addison Road and Carriageworks, to Cockatoo Island, to the MCA, to see a show at The Factory, The Vanguard or The Enmore, on the Bondi to Bronte walk, to the Coogee Women’s Pool (or Gordon’s Bay if they’re not ladies), for a beer at Young Henry’s then a pub crawl of the bars on Enmore Road, and for brunch at Fleetwood Macchiato. My girlfriend could take them for a bike ride along the Cook’s River if they were sportingly inclined!

What are you currently reading?
Gin, Glorious Gin by Olivia Williams, research for a new project, a cabaret called Mother’s Ruin about the history of gin.

What are you currently listening to?
All of the artists I mentioned above, and I have Lake Street Dive, Haim, First Aid Kit, Janelle Monae, Ásgeir, Sia, London Grammar and old Patsy Cline albums on high rotation. I am also trawling through a bunch of old cock rock, power ballads and metal as I am trying to find new songs for Lady Sings it Better, and I’m listening to songs about gin and mothers for Mother’s Ruin.

Happiness is?

What does the future hold for you?
I’m not 100% sure! This is my first year as a full time freelance artist / writer / producer, so I am still working that all out. Lady Sings it Better is about to make its MICF debut, followed by more touring and the Sydney Comedy Festival. I’m creating a new cabaret about gin, Mother’s Ruin, with Elly Clough (from The Ginstress). I’m working with Van Badham and some amazing musicians on what she refers to as a ‘hipster indie folk lesbian barbarian spectacular’ (it’s a musical based on Conan the Barbarian…) and I am starting to plan out a 2016 tour to the UK for some of these projects. I also want to try my hand at songwriting, and I’m working on educational resources about same-sex families with the team from Gayby Baby, a wonderful documentary film. At some point my partner and I want kids… I suppose the future is busy and exciting!

Maeve Marsden is a writer, project manager, director, producer and performer who lends her passions to the arts, as well as to social justice campaigns and organisations she believes in. Maeve began producing, directing and performing cabaret in 2009 with business partner, Phoebe Meredith. Their company, blackcat productions was named Best Emerging Company in the 2012 ArtsHub Awards, both Critics’ Choice and People’s Choice. 

Lady Sings it Better (which Maeve directs and performs in) has enjoyed multiple sold-out runs, at venues such as The Red Rattler, Camelot Lounge, Hayes Theatre Co, The Seymour Centre, The Factory Floor and Slide Lounge, as well as at festivals and events including Sydney Comedy Festival, Sydney Mardi Gras, Courtyard Sessions, Jurassic Lounge, Sydney Theatre Company Wharf Sessions, Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe Festivals. In 2012, Lady Sings it Better enjoyed a critically acclaimed season at the Edinburgh Fringe, performing at Gilded Balloon.

As a child of same-sex parents, Maeve is passionate about the rights of diverse families. In 2012, she organised and spoke at a panel for Queer Thinking entitled Growing up other: Children of same-sex parents speak. The panel was well-attended and received widespread media coverage, including national radio, local and national press and an article published on ABC The Drum. In 2013, she acted as a community consultant and appeared on Growing Up Gayby on ABC2, and she is now working with filmmakers, Maya Newell and Charlotte Mars on the roll out of educational resources and workshops for their film about same-sex families, Gayby Baby. She is a regular columnist for the Gay News Network.

Lady Sings It Better plays at Melbourne’s The Butterfly Club: 15 – 19 April 2015 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. For more information, visit: www.ladysingsitbetter.com for details.

Image: Maeve Marsden – photo by Viv McGregor