Profile: Verena Curr
Associate Artistic Director
Having worked with Imaginary Theatre as one of our key-artists since 2009, Verena Curr stepped into the role of Associate Artistic Director in 2015.
A specialist artist and educator with a long and varied history of working with children, Verena brings to Imaginary a wealth of passion, ideas and experience.
Photo: Verena at ANTI Festival Finland, enjoying one of the works entitled 'The Megaphone Project'.
Why do you create art with, and for children?
There is something extremely enjoyable, challenging and honest about making art for children and their communities. Children have a sensitivity, receptivity and dynamic energy that inspires me to create art work and experiences especially for them. For me, it is important to offer them a space to enjoy quality art experiences and to express their own thoughts, feelings and opinions of the world and their understanding of it. My concern for the lack of these type of opportunities for children makes me want to create art even more.
I also believe the qualities that children have can be infectious and allow accompanying adults, opportunities to reconnect with parts of themselves that have perhaps been neglected or considered less of a priority in day to day adult life. So, I enjoy making art for children, which is also for adults. There is a complex social exchange and interplay between generations that can take place in this art making process which fascinates me.
What is it about children that inspires you as an artist?
After graduating with a performing arts degree at university over ten years ago and working as a freelance artists in Brisbane and Melbourne, I started to find adult audiences somewhat limiting and insular, and this started to hinder my desire to create art at all. I had been working predominately in devising, facilitating and performing new work and had been focusing on developing skills and knowledge in various forms by training with specialist artmakers from near and far. Simultaneously I found various employment working with children from positions such as early years educational assistant, swim teacher, youth theatre facilitator, nanny, after school care assistant to a now, qualified teacher. Working with children in these ways particularly in their early years, I developed a greater understanding and deeper respect for them. Once you truly engage with children it doesn’t take long to see how wonderful, creative, intelligent, genuine and sensitive they are and in turn how vibrant their contribution is to their community. It also made me reflect upon how little contact adults in our society generally have with children. Collectively these experiences and realisations made me want to explore ways of bringing my arts practice and work with children together, to expand my knowledge of both and to develop creative experiences for children and their community, who had thankfully reignited my interest in creating new art work.
What projects have you done with Imaginary Theatre in the past?
I have been working with Imaginary Theatre to imagine, develop, create, perform and facilitate new works since the end of 2009. In 2009 I was invited on board ‘Play Project’ to collaborate on the research and development of a new contemporary theatre work for children between 2-5. This resulted in the finished performance and play installation work ‘Look’, which was premeired in 2012. Since then we have performed ‘Look’ at various festivals in Australia and overseas and are now developing our second early years performance work, ‘This, That’. Over the past two years I have been working as a key creator and facilitating artist on Imaginary’s artist in residence projects ‘The Thinking Artists’ and ‘The Play Museum’ and I have also contributed in various other ways, in working with the company to help realise and present projects and develop ideas for the future.
What's a favourite piece of art for children that you've seen?
One performance work that comes to mind is ‘White’, by Catherine Wheels Theatre Company in Scotland. I had the pleasure of seeing this work at the ASSITEJ International Congress & Festival in Copenhagen, 2011. This work is for early years audiences but is clearly enjoyed by all ages, and it is visually and physically rich with minimal text and strong characters who navigate and present various emotions as they tell a perfectly simple story. Simplicity is one of the hardest things to achieve and when it is done well I am so grateful. It was a pure joy to watch ‘White’ from beginning to end and the obvious rigour in it’s creation shows great respect for it’s young audiences, which is another plus for me.
What about the future of Imaginary Theatre are you most excited about?
I am delighted to continue to work closely with my friends at Imaginary in the role of Associate Director. I know that we all share a vision for ongoing development and creation of quality arts and cultural experiences for children, families and their broader community here in Queensland and abroad. I’m excited about where the creative possibilities, our combined visions and efforts will lead us. I'm hoping it will lead us to new audiences, new cultural exchange, new collaborations, new partnerships and new work which challenges us, our ideas, and the forms we play in.