Spotlight On: Camila Percy

Camila Percy has directed, performed, taught and trained in improvisation both around Australia and internationally. She originally trained with ImproMafia in Brisbane which inspired her to seek out study under Keith Johnstone, and has since taught and directed her original format, Swipe Right, at festivals in Australia, New Zealand, China and the Philippines. Her latest show, The New Tales of Quinn, premiered earlier this year in Brisbane as part of the Lord Mayor's Children's Concerts.

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Tell us a bit about your show and the idea behind it, and why/how it excites you.

The show centres on Quinn, a kid who goes on adventures and meets characters (created and drawn by the audience) along the way. Each story is collaboratively told by an improviser/author, the players and the audience.

Humans have been acting out stories around the fire for hundreds of thousands of years, and we just seem to know what should happen next. Children are especially attuned to this instinct for story and in The New Tales of Quinn I wanted to harness that in a mass, ephemeral creation between parents, children and improvisers. The best feedback we got from the premiere was that kids went home and staged their own tales of Quinn in their living rooms!

The preparation is an utter pleasure too - playing with dress-ups, pretending bits of cardboard are trapdoors and connecting with our kid selves and the stories they enjoyed.

How did the idea for the show come about?

I'm a primary school teacher by trade and love reading Anna Fienberg's Tashi stories to my students. Tashi is a kid who meets a cast of mythical characters, gets himself into sticky situation and emerges triumphant having made friends and learned more about his world. The New Tales of Quinn takes the idea of an ordinary kid who answers the call to adventure and adds a collaborative element. The kids' characters drive the stories. I'm a big fan of kids' writing as well - the wild leaps of imagination and the way kids can seamlessly integrate the everyday and the fantastical into a narrative. Kids are the perfect co-authors in any adventure! As an improviser these worlds are inviting places to play and the possibilities are endless.

What show other than your own are you most excited to see? Why?

I can't wait to see Katherine Weaver's Princesses (And Other Girls Who Rule The World). As a teacher I see gender determine and limit the choices of children every day. The character of Quinn is purposely ungendered and is played by cast members of any gender in the same show. This was a deliberate attempt to mess with gender, particularly in the adventure genre, and to allow all kids to see themselves in the hero. Katherine's show is addressing this in another way that I think is genius - it is unashamedly aimed at girls, cast with all women and consciously trying to disrupt the usual passive princess narrative. I'm so excited to see it!

What's the best thing about improv?

Connection! Improvising involves connecting to all of your selves, to your fellow players, to your audience, to genre, to the space... to paraphrase Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame, it is the willingness to be changed by all of those things, and there is nothing more satisfying.

Book now for The New Tales of Quinn at BATS Theatre!

11am, 9-11 October at BATS Theatre
General Admission $12
Groups of 4 $40

FeatureJennifer AliceComment