Q&A with Urban Theatre Project’s Liza-Mare Syron

Photo of Liza-Mare Syron, Aboriginal Creative Producer at Urban Theatre Projects.

Photo of Liza-Mare Syron, the Aboriginal Creative Producer at Urban Theatre Projects.

As part of National Aboriginal Indigenous Day of Observance Committee (NAIDOC) 2016, we chat to Dr Liza-Mare Syron about her life in the arts and what keeps her inspired.

Liza-Mare is a director, actor, teacher, dramaturge and an award winning academic. She is also a founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, a NSW based theatre company.

Companies Liza-Mare previously worked with include the New England Theatre Company, Griffin Theatre Company and Sydney Festival. Her latest directing role was for the new Aboriginal play The Fox and The Freedom Fighters, which premiered at Carriageworks Sydney in 2015.

Can you tell us a little about yourself..(your mob, growing up, inspiration)?

My father’s family are Biripai from the mid-north coast of NSW. I grew up in Balmain as did my father and his mother. My great grandfather Daniel Syron moved to Balmain in the 1930s from Taree in search of work on the wharves. My inspiration has always been my Uncle Brian Syron and my practice is informed by his legacy in the Aboriginal performing arts and film sectors. I have just completed a three-year research project on first people’s theatre making practices in Australia, New Zealand and Canada as part of an Indigenous Research Fellowship at Macquarie University and I have recently been appointed as the Aboriginal Creative Producer at Urban Theatre Projects two days a week.

How did you first become interested in the performing arts?

It was Brian who first introduced me to the performing arts when he was teaching in Darlinghurst in the 1980s. Although I took a different pathway than Brian my work is still very much influenced by his artistic, cultural and political legacy.

How has your Aboriginal culture informed and inspired your work/career?

Everything I do is informed in some way by culture and community, it has to be.

You’re the Aboriginal Creative Producer of Urban Theatre Projects (UTP), how do you find balance between your own practice and UTP?

The work at UTP is to develop and deliver three exciting Aboriginal projects. These projects will require artistic and cultural input from Aboriginal artists, writers and performers. There are synergies with the work I do at Mooaghlin Performing Arts and I am working towards realising these connections and incorporating a process that is consultative, collaborative and consistent with the needs of the sector.

What have been the most influential moments of your career (to date) 

My most influential moment is founding Moogahlin Performing Arts with two wonderful practitioners Lily Shearer and Frederick Copperwaite. Then, developing that company to a sustainable business model and appointing Ali-Murphy Oats as Company Manager.

Creating career pathways for Aboriginal artists and cultural workers is a key focus of Stage Two of the NSW Aboriginal Arts and Cultural Strategy. Do you have any advice for emerging or mid-career Aboriginal artists and cultural practitioners who are starting out or are looking to work with major performing arts companies?

Yes, there are people out there creating pathways for emerging, mid-career, established artists and companies to continue to produce work. Keep your eye on what projects are happening, keep your finger on the pulse because it is pumping out there, it is alive and it is happening now.

What do you hope Australians will get out of NAIDOC week?

NAIDOC is an important time to honour the first peoples of Australia and to acknowledge the history and present day realities for many first peoples in Australia. It is a time to get involved in community and workplace events and celebrate our culture with us.

In 2016, what are you most excited by – as a producer or as an audience member?

I am really excited to be working at UTP with such an experienced and innovative team. I have known Rosie Denis the Artistic Director a long time and I am looking forward to working with her on UTP projects. I am also very motivated to develop a partnership between UTP and Moogahlin Performing Arts that will have great benefits for both companies, as well as for the sector and artists.

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