On the Couch with Nancy Black

Nancy Black Arts Review On the CouchWho is Nancy Black?
A theatre maker, director, producer and occasional performer. Since 2006, I’ve been the Artistic Director of Black Hole Theatre – an independent puppet-based company. I’m currently directing Victorian Opera’s The Sleeping Beauty – an incredible production blending puppetry and opera.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I would spend much less time on administrative tasks. In fact, I’d eliminate them altogether and delegate them to people who are good at it!  I’d spend more time in the rehearsal room. I’d spend more time with my friends and family. I’d devote time between each project to refreshing my creativity – I’d take workshops in areas that are unfamiliar, broaden my skills, keep learning.

Who inspires you and why?
First I’m inspired by artists I work with. For instance, the multi-talented cast of The Sleeping Beauty daily expand my simple suggestions into moments of hilarity, beauty, and profound emotion. They inspire and challenge me to extend myself.

I’m also inspired by the people working doggedly around the world, often in great danger, to alleviate the suffering brought about by the current wars in the Middle East and Africa. I’m inspired by the people willing to stand up to Donald Trump. I’m inspired by the scientists struggling to avert the environmental crisis now confronting mankind.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
First, I’d impeach Donald Trump. It’s mind-blowing that he’s become the head of one of the most powerful countries on earth. No one in his government has shown any inclination, let alone the strength, to stand up to him.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Hmmmm…. in the winter I go skiing, and my favourite spots (apart from Mt Hotham) are in Japan, the US, and Canada. In the summer I want to explore the wilderness: Tasmania, Canada, the US Rockies. There is much more to explore I know, but these are the places I know! I want to hike through the Kimberley. I also want to get to Kakadu.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Always the Vic Market – because its food is divine, the atmosphere wonderful, and it speaks so warmly of Melbourne’s life. Of course I take them to our galleries, and museums. Of course I take them to the theatre – both mainstream and independent, traditional and innovative. We dine out, in alleys, neighborhoods, exploring whatever kind of food they like. I take them down the coast via the Great Ocean Road or down towards Portsea so they can experience our oceanic beaches. If they have time, we head up inland to Castlemaine, or go to the Yarra Valley. Melbourne can offer soooooo much!

What are you currently reading?
The Black War by Nicholas Clements, My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, East West Street by Philippe Sands, La Tête d’un Homme (in French) by Georges Simenon

What are you currently listening to?
Respighi, Nico Muhly, recordings by Eighth Blackbird, the New Yorker Radio Hour, Late Night Live with Phillip Adams, This American Life with Ira Glass.

Happiness is?
Having a feast with family and friends. Standing at the top of an untracked snow field, nodding to my sons on either side, and heading down. Frolicking with my grandchildren. Watching wonderful theatre.

What does the future hold for you?
I have no idea! More work, more adventures, no doubt crises and moments of despair, followed – one hopes in equal measure – by times of great joy.

Nancy is directing Victorian Opera’s production of The Sleeping Beauty at Arts Centre Melbourne: 11 – 18 March 2017. For more information, visit: www.victorianopera.com.au for details.

Image: Nancy Black