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In Conversation with Q44 Theatre’s Gabriella Rose-Carter

Ahead of Q44 Theatre's premiere of 'Ironbound' at the Convent, we get the lowdown from Artistic Director and Founder, Gabriella Rose-Carter, on 'doing' over 'thinking', the importance of finding your tribe in pursuing your craft, and what it's like to play a woman whose relationships are bound by compromise.

What was it about Ironbound that drew you to staging this production?

The immigrant’s journey; it was personal.

My mother was born in the Hungarian Soviet Republic and came to Australia in 1968 in search of freedom and a better life.

She sometimes felt like she didn’t belong here – life always managed to remind her that she doesn’t have a place in this world, just like the lead character in ‘Irondboud,’ Darja.

Then, in 2015, I had lunch with renowned America Acting Coach and Director, Larry Moss, at the Lyall Hotel. Larry, who was coaching me privately in preparation for a play Q44 premiered in 2016, said, “I have found a play for you, ‘Ironbound’”.

It was an omen. I believe in omens.

‘Ironbound’ explores relationships over time, and in particular the compromises which are often inherent within relationships, such as love versus security. What does this compromise bring to the lead character, Darja, and what’s the best thing about performing this role?

Redemption. This allows Darja to take off her armour and be vulnerable for the first time in her life. Darja is unlocking my heart in ways I could not imagine. Acting is very spiritual to me.

For audiences who are new to Q44’s work, what can they expect from this production, and what sets Q44 apart from other theatre groups?

Predominantly it’s our focus on education which sets us apart.

What I loved about my experience in New York, and one of the things I love about The Actors Studio, is the fact that you have a place to go – a tribe which speaks your language, supports you, encourages you, champions you, challenges and raises the bar for you to be the best creative person that you can be. People are training all the time. There’s no ‘Now that I’m an actor I don’t need training anymore’, because an athlete needs to constantly train to be the best they can be, a ballerina needs to constantly train.

So we are not only telling stories about the human condition that can change and shift ideas, but we are also educating the community that actors – creative people performing drama and telling human stories – need constant training to keep mastering their craft, like any other profession. We’re not excluded from that. It’s not just about being yourself.

We make theatre that is intimate, confronting and relatable.

We strive to inspire people to laugh more, feel more and think more.

We don’t want our audience to watch something and then have it not exist – we want it to exist in their memory for years to come.

Fuelled by your experience training and working in New York and Europe, you have said that your dream began by ‘creating a platform for actors to take responsibility for their own creative destinies’. What do you mean by this statement, and what advice do you have for actors to enable them to do this?

I’m a really big believer in doing. We can all sit around and say, ‘Oh yes I’d love to do this’, but as the saying goes, talk is cheap and doing is a lot scarier than talking.

I think there are so many talented creative people out there, but only 1% are getting work. If it’s such a struggle, why can’t we create our own platform where we can be working in a place where we are aligned, can learn how to collaborate, be encouraged, be championed and strengthen our relationship around how we see ourselves, instead of getting caught up in, ‘My agent doesn’t get me any work’, or ‘I can’t get an agent’, ‘Blah blah casting person won’t see me’. This way there’s no time to be thinking of all those things because you’re doing it, and if you do get the audition or gig, there’s no ‘what if this runs out’, because you’re constantly doing it, you’re constantly being creative. Doing is brave and it builds confidence.

You moved into the Convent’s recently-renovated Sacred Heart building. Why was Sacred Heart the right space for you, and how is this space and being at the Convent impacting your work?

The theatre to me is SACRED. It is a communal place one enters with an open HEART to open one’s HEART. An omen…

Together we share values that support and activate growth. Being at the Convent speaks to our spiritual practice which secures our continued learning.

The cherry on top, my son studies at Sophia Mundi – very special.

You also teach acting at the Convent. What would you say to encourage the ‘acting curious’ to take a workshop with Q44?

We focus on building confident storytellers. We combine sensory and vocal techniques to create precision and truth.