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A Sustainability Q&A with Harriet Gillies (They’ve Already Won)

Here at The Blue Room Theatre we are dedicated to the sharing of stories, including the sharing of how our members think and act in relation to sustainability. Throughout the year you will hear from various artists, producers, activists, academics and community members about their feelings on art and sustainability. Today we hear from Harriet Gillies, co-creator of They’ve already Won, recently seen as part of Summer Nights 2017. Who knew nihilism could be so much fun…

What do you understand sustainability to be?

When I think about sustainability it comes up in two pretty different ways in my career. The first is sustainability of the production of work – so how to not be wasteful or mean to nature. The second is sustainability of an artist’s career and how artists can find ways to make sure they will continue to have work and make a living off their practice.

Is sustainability an issue that informs your performance making?  How so?

I think sustainability is generally a very important theme in the world right now, and I’m one of those people that thinks it’s impossible for art not to be political, so I think it’s hard for it to not inform any artist’s practice. I think I talk a lot about the proliferation of shit in the modern world in my work… I make work from the position of a hardcore nihilist – I think that’s important… so waste and a lack of attention or sensitivity put back into the world by humans is something that comes up a lot.

I also use a lot of projection and lo-fi tech in my work, which came out of a need to make everything myself in order to have a more sustainable career. I couldn’t afford to hire a lighting designer or buy fancy computer programs so I just googled it. The show I just finished at The Blue Room Theatre has the two performers operating all the tech on stage because at the time we couldn’t afford a Stage Manager – so that more narcissistic theme of sustainability of an artist’s career comes into my work a lot and has kind of turned into a charming part of my practice that I did not expect but I like. 🙂

If you include sustainability themes in your work, do you think they have any effect in changing people’s attitudes, understandings or behaviour?

I hope so – I think sustainability can make people feel small and insignificant or helpless… like they can’t make a difference. I often feel like I can’t make a difference. Like what is the point of me being sustainable in my indie theatre show that 200 people will see when the United States and Australian governments are just like, NAH F*CK IT COAL. So that’s hard… haha I don’t think I answered the question.

What about your personal life?  Do you do anything special day-to-day? (Use public transport instead of single-occupant car, for example; never charter private jets, etc.)

Yeah I NEVER charter private jets. I mean there was that one time… look I’ve cut back.
No I’m probably really bad at all that – I drive everywhere and eat too much takeaway and am a bit of a sh*t person.

Where do you see yourself in twenty years?  What do you think society will look like then?

AI robots and flying cars and living on the moon and probably still coming to The Blue Room Theatre for Fringe World. I thinks it’s going to be unrecognisable and exactly the same.

Is there anything else you’d like to say on this topic?

I think too often in Australia people ask too much of our art – it can’t be everything. No single artwork can fix all the world’s problems. BUT artists are innovators at heart and we can use our creative imaginative minds to rock at this sustainability thing I think. Go art. I also think nature is the world’s largest inspiration and if people don’t get their sh*t together we will lose it.