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Centre Stage with… Samantha Chester


What kinds of works/performances are you most drawn to?

Physically driven devised theatre work.

What was the last show you saw?

Claire Cunningham’s Give Me A Reason to Live. It was very inspiring and moving. It is a very rare experience when a show finishes and the audience doesn’t leave, they just sit in the space after the lights have come up and soak in what has happened! What a brilliant response.

What’s the best show you’ve ever seen?

Political Mother by Hofesh Schecter. It honestly felt like you inhaled at the beginning of the work and exhaled at the end.

Where do you see theatre and performance art 10 years from now?

I feel like we are in an interesting time where all disciplines are borrowing from each other – we are seeing more immersive theatre like Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man as artists are looking for new ways to express, to share and tell the story of our time. More and more the edges will blur and we seek new terrain to frame our existence and that more than ever it will be art and science at this frontier – in cross collaborations and diversity of practice.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into theatre?

That it is about persistence. Know when to say NO. To take your work seriously. To have joy in the work. To stay the course, be steely in your self-determination, and value that creative expression is not only a cultural asset but a social one. Find good people to collaborate with.

What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do?

In my educative capacity, it is the creative activism that can happen in a rehearsal room. To see the lights come on for a student and what is possible. As a performer/director it is how one serves the work. To do the work and realise a complete action on stage with care and detail.

How would you describe your artistic practice? Who are your major influences?

I would describe my practice as being interested in the intimacy of life – the delicacy of the human condition and what is already written on the body. I am interested in people’s ideas and how they see the world and how I can both construct that in the work I direct, or in this case (The Astronaut) how I can place that in my own body. Hands down Megs Stuart Artistic Director of Damaged Goods is one of my major influences, as well as Kate Champion, and my current hero is the Director Frances Barbe.


Find out more about Samantha Chester’s The Astronaut here.


Image by Daniel James Grant. Background image by Jarrad Seng.