On the Couch with Robyn Archer AO

Robyn Archer Arts Review On the CouchWho is Robyn Archer AO?
A singer – in the literal sense (I’ve been singing in public since I was four and am still lucky to be singing ninety-minute recitals) but also, in the arcane sense ‘a bringer of stories’, in the many other roles I play in the arts (writing, directing, artistic direction, advising on arts and culture, mentoring).

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Not sure if you mean how would I do differently what I do now – in which case the answer would be try to schedule a bit more down time – my favourite days are those when I wake up and say ‘what will I do today ?’ I have very few of those and they are always so productive. If you mean what other profession or role would I choose if not the one I do now, possibly architecture or some area of visual arts (painting was my first love).

Who inspires you and why?
Mother Nature. The smallest autumn leaf, the tiniest spring blossom, expansive vistas, fresh air, birds anywhere, trees, rain and water anywhere – all these lift me up and get me going. I find these things wherever I am – even in the densest urban environments.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Insist that education everywhere include the fostering of curiosity (all the way to and through tertiary) and, alongside that, developing the critical faculty – so all people can rigorously interrogate what all media, including social media dishes up every day. Less mediated world views could bring about a difference.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Kyoto. Beautiful in every season, you can wander the eastern hills day after day, visiting temples, gardens, traditional architecture, but equally you can explore the bustling city, entertaining shops, terrific contemporary design, great bookshops, and ancient geisha quarter. The food is fantastic and we always try to stay in traditional Japanese accommodation – bathing is a particular pleasure.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
Which town? My base in Australia is Adelaide, but I only get there five or so nights a month if I’m lucky. The suitcase I live out of is not much of an attraction. In Adelaide, I invite them to Henley Beach where I ‘live’ – ever changing colours, dolphins and pelicans, magnificent sunsets over the gulf waters.

What are you currently reading?
Jan Morris’ classic Spain and John Keane’s The Life and Death of Democracy.

What are you currently listening to?
The sound of wild winds and a roaring sea.

Happiness is?
Something definitely not to be pursued as if it’s a goal in itself. As Brecht said “If all chase after Happiness, Happiness comes in last”. But I have a great deal of happiness; it comes in small unexpected fleeting moments as a consequence of a purposeful life; when you stop to take a breath and admit to yourself “In this moment I am happy”.

What does the future hold for you?
Immediately, a vast number of projects – The Sound of Falling Stars (which I wrote and directed) is going to Auckland in September and we’re planning a tour for 2018: the Coming Back Out Again Ball in October; followed by mentoring for the European Festivals Association Atelier in Shanghai, and my own recitals at Arts Centre Melbourne and City Recital Hall Sydney in November; as well as interviewing for the next cohort for NIDA’s MFA in Cultural Leadership; intense work on the Gold Coast where the big new outdoor space at the Cultural Precinct starts its test events in December. Next year – more of the same, calendar is already getting tight. After that – there’s pressure building for a memoir of some kind – and more concerts!

Robyn will host and perform at The Coming Back Out Ball at the Melbourne Town Hall as a premiere event of the 2017 Victorian Seniors Festival in association with the 3rd National LGBTI Ageing and Aged Care Conference on Saturday 7 October 2017. For more information, visit: www.comingbackoutball.com for details.

Robyn will also present an evening of French song, satire and stories in Que Reste T’il (What Remains?) at Arts Centre Melbourne on Friday 10 November and Saturday 11 November 2017. For more information, visit: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au for details.

Image: Robyn Archer AO – photo by Claudio Raschella