Natasha Budd on Joy, Fear & Poetry

Natasha Budd on Joy, Fear & Poetry



La Boite Indie 10 – 20 July 2013

Book online


by Meredith McLean


A complex journey through the terrain of modern day childhoods.


A child enters the space and speaks directly to the adult audience in her native Swahili. She is vulnerable and competent, fearful and exuberant as she explains why we’re all here.


I’m going to perform for you – you’re going to watch me.



The protagonists in Joy Fear & Poetry are children aged 8-12 who create, demonstrate and philosophise, sharing their perspectives on life and art in a playful integration of live performance, digital projection, video, animation and iPad play.


Presented by La Boite Indie & Natasha Budd with the support of QPAC



What is the meaning you were searching for in Joy Fear & Poetry?

The title Joy Fear and Poetry aims to reflect the experiences of children whose lives are marked by an innate curiosity that motivates them to take risks and make discoveries. The joys and fears inherent in this process exist not in contrast with one another but as part of a complex navigation in which children can find joy and excitement in scaring themselves or in facing and overcoming their fears. While adults caring for children try to manage the risks and benefits, the world presents some very real dangers and children can at times inhabit dark terrains. Joy Fear and Poetry presents moments in the journey to reveal the poetry that lies in children’s strengths and vulnerabilities, compassion and reasoning amid the complexity and contradictions of childhood.The term Poetry in used in this context as a quality of beauty and intensity as is characteristic of poetry.

The idea is that while children may experience joy and fear in their lives  the sum of these experiences has a poetic beauty to it.


How did you go about selecting the children for this performance?

The performers come from both inner and outer city Brisbane and were contacted through their schools. I asked teachers to select children who were keen communicators that might enjoy participating in a range of arts activities including visual art, music, media and drama. I undertook workshops with the children in school holidays and over the period of two years we had children come and go until a core group emerged who have become our two casts.


 What did your 2 years of research entail? What kept you focused?

The research forms part of my PhD studies and is investigating how children are represented in the theatre and in society more generally.  I’m keen to establish how artist might shift these representations to something more aligned with the lived experience of children. The development of the production explores the practical ways that directors and designers can work with children to achieve this goal.


 I know there is an education element to this performance; can you describe that further?

The work doesn’t attempt to educate the children although art-making inevitably involves learning and the cast and crew have all learnt an enormous amount in this process.  The children are experts in their own lives and will be sharing this knowledge with an audience, so in this way I guess it will be the audience who are being educated.


Is this show about children, for children or both?

This is a show about children performed by children for an adult audience. It looks at the relationship between adults and children from children’s perspectives and is presenting this for adult consideration. The work isn’t for young children as the themes wouldn’t be fully understood however I think older children would comprehend the conversation that’s being had and I hope appreciate that it’s being expressed by child performers.


 As a child, what was your favourite poet/poetry?

I don’t recall reading poetry as a young child.  In about year 8 I discovered Silvia Plath I didn’t really understand what it meant at the time but I loved the way it sounded and the way it made me think about strange images.


 What inspired you to hone in on “joy, fear & poetry”?

I started with the idea of childhood and it was the workshops with the children that led me to this idea of risk and curiosity protection and safety. The joy and the fear were quite simplistic initially but it was the way that the children discussed these concepts that was poetic, their capacity for rational and philosophical thinking their  compassion and moral strength I found beautifully poetic and the title wasn’t difficult it just emerged quite naturally.


Where did your passion for Queensland youth stem?

I think it was my own children. One of the first shows I created was prompted by an experience my daughter was having at the time and theatre was a way of exploring and dealing with that issue. I toured that show throughout Queensland and performed to 45,000 students, it was incredibly rewarding and enjoyable so I’ve  continued ever since.


How has QPAC/La Boite/anyone else we should know about supported you in this endeavour? 

This show has been supported by many organisations and individuals. The team working on the show are students, volunteers and professional artists all working together.  This group of people have worked incredibly hard and I feel very privileged that they’ve enabled my research. La Boite and in particular David Berthold trusted in this work and took a leap of faith that I am extremely grateful for. This show is not your average theatre show, the cast is aged 7 –12 they improvise much of the performance and express their own thoughts and ideas. It’s a risky endeavour and it’s only through the support of progressive thinkers like the team at La Boite that it’s made possible. QUT and QPAC have provided resources that enabled us to create the type of work that we envisaged along with sponsors Scifleet Motors, IKEA and the Logan City Council.


What happens to the show after this run?

We’re not sure at this stage, we hope in will have another life, the children would certainly love that!


What are you planning on doing next?

This show has raised so many issues and aesthetic ideas that I’m excited to explore in the future. It’s difficult not to build them all into this show, I need to stop and remind myself that we have a deadline and time afterwards to start afresh.


La Boite Indie: Joy, Fear & Poetry (10 – 20 July) and Show Me Yours, I’ll Show You Mine (10 – 27 July). Book online



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