On the Couch with Sandra Eldridge

Sandra Eldridge oncWho is Sandra Eldridge?
I’m an actor, director, writer and also one of the creative director’s of Monkey Baa Theatre Company, a company that I helped set up with Tim McGarry and Eva Di Cesare in the 90s.

What would you do differently to what you do now?   
As I get older I’m trying not to worry so much and allow shyness to get in the way of seizing life’s adventures. Be good to take up singing lessons to as that’s always scared me. But ultimately I’m tremendously grateful and thankful to be making theatre. I love it so.

Who inspires you and why?
My family and friends first up. In the 70s my parents migrated from England with us three kids, all under 11 and Jason, our Jack Russell Terrier. We drove round the bottom of Australia in a white Holden Kingswood, feeding Jason mints, which made him fart. We even bumped across The Nullarbor when it was unsealed. My family and my friends all have that spirit of adventure, which is ultimately curiosity and they also posses in bucket loads empathy and wicked senses of humour. I also find writers inspiring. They feed humanity with stories. And when I’m directing I’m constantly blown away by an actors courage. My comrades in arms Tim and Eva inspire me every day.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Where to begin? There’s a big to do list. It has been proven that getting young people to experience theatre enhances and encourages empathy. Empathy is the key. Being able to walk in someone else’s shoes may encourage future Governments to have a greater sense of social responsibilities and to have a more humane and compassionate response to people in crisis fleeing from their homelands. The exchange of story telling promotes learning on many levels plus debate and dialogue. Art tells stories. So I hope what I do helps, but Climate Change and it’s impact is a story of now. I am struggling with how to tackle that narrative without it being a bleak tale of survival and last one standing. As a long standing vegetarian (35 years), I do try and subtly promote the concept of eating less meat too.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Going up to the Blue Mountains and Black Heath with my bestie is a favourite and London to be with my brother and sister.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
In the summer swimming at Red Leaf Pool, a stroll through the Botanical Gardens and drinks at The Opera Bar. You really feel like a millionaire with all that expanse and beauty. In the winter a show at The Ol Fitz or the Eternity Playhouse followed by a wander around the back streets of Darlinghurst and The X, maybe ending up at The Owl or one of the new small bars opening up or at The East Sydney. Your always going to have an adventure of some kind and meet interesting people. Dinner at Bodhi’s vegetarian restaurant always proves that being a vego doesn’t mean that you can’t eat in style.

What are you currently reading?
I always have at least three or four books on the go. At the moment it’s George Elliot’s Mill on the Floss (I’m directing the play in July at WAAPA), Ali Smith’s How to be both (love her work), re-reading Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth and reading Agatha Christie and E F Benson late at night when my brain gets to busy.

What are you currently listening to?
A mixed selection created for New Years Eve that just keeps on giving and the sound track for The Tree of Life.

Happiness is?
Family, friends, creativity and as I age, health.

What does the future hold for you?
Hopefully a continual creating of theatre, telling stories in interesting ways, collaborating and learning about different and exciting ways to work and being brave.

Sandra Eldridge is a WAAPA acting graduate and has a Master of Arts (Practice) for directing CSU. As a director she has directed for Monkey Baa; Goodbye Jamie Boyd, The Prospector’s, I am Jack, Hitler’s Daughter (2007 Helpmann Award for Best Children’s Presentation, 2006 Drover Award, 2012 Glug Award), and Thursday’s Child (2009 Helpmann Award for Best Children’s Presentation).

Sandra has also directed The Grapes of Wrath at WAAPA, Voyage to the Deep for Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) and Searching for Meaning for The Ensemble Theatre, Page to Stage Program. She will be returning to direct The Mill on the Floss at WAAPA this year.

For Monkey Baa, she has adapted and performed in the national / state tours of Worry Wart’s (Published PlayLab), Sprung! The Fairy’s Wing’s, The Bugalugs Bum Thief, Emily Eyefinger and adapted Goodbye Jamie Boyd, Hitler’s Daughter (Published Currency Press), Milli, Jack and The Dancing Cat, FOX, I Am Jack ,Thursday’s Child (Published Currency Press) Pete the Sheep (2014 Glug Award) Nautilus, A Voyage to the Deep for the ANMM, and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie for Christine Dunstan Productions (CDP).

As an actor Sandra has worked for Sport for Jove, WA Theatre Company, Deckchair Theater,Yvonne Arnaud Theatre UK, Marion Street Theatre, Griffin Theatre, Railway Street Theatre, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, TRS, Pascal Productions at The Adelaide Festival and The Sydney Opera House.

Her film and TV credits include: Special Ops, All Saints, White Collar Blue, Children’s Hospital, Spellbinder, Footy Legends, Backburner, A Fortunate Life, Sisterly Love, Math’s Break, The Birthday Party, The Distance Between, Stay Awake I’m Not Someone Else and Lady and a Robot.

Sandra has written and will be performing in her first play, The Unknown Soldier for Monkey Baa at the Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre from 16 May 2015 for a limited season. For more information, visit: www.monkeybaa.com.au for details.

Image: Sandra Eldridge