Laura you grew up in Ireland, what is the arts industry like over there?
Is it evolving?
Ireland’s arts scene is similar to London. It is bursting with incredible artists who are thriving and surviving and doing anything they can to tell stories. Ireland is bursting at the seams with great stories and great makers so a lot of Irish artists end up in London. Or New York or any of the other great artistic centres.
Is it evolving? Of course! I believe our industry is one of the best at adapting to the needs and desires of a current climate. Because it is run on passion and curiosity and the pursuit of community or rather, the pursuit of togetherness. Our industry, the Arts does more than evolve, it excels.
You trained at drama school, what advise do you give actors who can’t get accredited training ?
Work! Do anything you can to be in a room of artists making work. Make tea, paint sets, write, hand out flyers, ask for interviews, usher, monologue slam, do student film, do Masterclasses, go to NT platforms – the list goes on. Do anything you can to be part of the conversation.
The majority of my training was done on the job. Drama school is an incredible experience but it’s not for everyone nor does it guarantee success.
What did I learn at East 15? Be the person they want in the room, deliver on each performance and if you need help or advise, ask for it.
Do you mean why are artists important? If so….
Artists, actors, theatre makers, writers, TV executives are all important because the world needs to be told stories. “A nation without stories is a nation without history.” Our cultural and individual identity is interwoven into the stories we share and listen to. During times of unrest and upheaval, the nation’s theatres are full of romance and happy ever afters and vice versa. Stories and story tellers are essential to humanity because they remind us what it is to be human.
You are a writer, actress, producer, with your own shows. What do you love about making your own work?
I get to share what I think is important with a room full of people. I’m not brave enough to let the world alone yet. I am sometimes afraid and angry and nervous about the things that happen everyday, the stories in the news, the stories we hear on TV and the stories we don’t hear. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and helpless and I don’t know how to help but I can. Action is simple. Tell someone about it. Stand up for something. Stand up in a room of people and tell them. Let them laugh about it or cry or grow angry but tell them and they might want to do something too. My last work BRIEF was about the illegality of abortion in Ireland. This results in 12 women a day travelling to the UK and other countries, to access safe medical care. It costs €60,000 a week meaning that appropriate medical care for females is exclusive and economically prejudiced. I spoke to women and men about it. Then I wrote about it.BRIEF carries their stories and shares them with anyone who will listen. It mightn’t have changed anything yet but it is a beginning.
What advice to you give other artists wanting to develop their own work?
Find your true artistic voice before you go after funding or support. I spent so much time pursuing venues to put on work that wasn’t fully developed. Take time. Take your time with the idea. Develop the idea fully, research it, start conversations about it, get mentorship, read about it, go see other shows about it then and only then start thinking about producing it. You will break your heart trying to sell half baked ideas.
How do you and the arts cuts affecting you?
I have only recently begun to receive funding so it hasn’t affected me.I became very resourceful very quickly. I learnt to make work on a shoe string. I learnt to prioritise what was important and of course I had a really generous network of artists that believed in my work and were willing to work for a reduced/deferred fee or sometimes for a skill swap i.e. I acted in their film and in return they filmed my performance. It has been challenging but its made me value my work and my skills as a practitioner.
What work have you got on at the moment?
In September I was commissioned by Hab Arts and ACE to make a sound installation for DOMESTIC, a live arts festival in Manchester. Pillowtalk is about a woman suffering from early onset dementia. It’s a piece written for my grandmother. I’ve struggled watching her grow old, losing parts of her. I suppose I want her to know she is important, that her life has meant so much. Pillowtalk reminds us that no life should be forgotten. At the moment? I’m looking for the next home for Pillowtalk.
What issues are do you face the most and an artist and how to try overcome them
Finding the time to develop an idea and the financial support to produce the work. At the moment I have several ideas that are ready to go into research and development but I spend most of my time sourcing funding and support. Self funding through part time work, writing residency applications or applying for grants is a craft in itself and one that is absolutely essential. But it does get easier.
Thank you Laura for answering our questions. You are a inspiring actor and creator of theatre that the industry is lucky to have. Laura is not only a great artist but she is a good friendly, generous person. Check her Twitter out and keep un to date with her shows, she is a thought provoking actor with incredibly passionate and touching stories to tell.