Amy Morris of Tantrum Youth Arts, by Eryn Leggatt / by Eryn Withawhy

Amy Morris is a self described ‘theatre weirdo’. She’s an emerging performing artist, poet and creative workshop facilitator and her bubbly personality fills the room. You would hardly recognise her as the shy child she describes herself being years ago before taking her first drama class.

Having just graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Creative and Performing Arts and English, she is currently working as a Teaching Artist with Tantrum Youth Arts and regularly collaborates on their productions. She is one of the directors of The One, coming to King Edward Park from 18th–22nd April.

The coffee shop was closed, so we sat down in Tantrum Studio to chat about what she’s up to.

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Tell us about The One?

The One is Tantrum’s next big outdoor production, which will be held in Newcastle’s King Edward Park in April. It’s all about romance as a social construct and how it affects people’s lives, worldviews and perception about what love really is. It looks at the portrayal of love and romance from stories like fairytales that have been passed down from generation to generation, and questions them – asking, ‘Are these really true? What do they encourage? Toxic relationships or healthy relationships with a lot of communication?’. It’s also a really fun, funny show. It’s exciting and really enjoyable while still asking important questions.

What’s your role in the production?

I’m one of the directors with Lucy Shepherd (Tantrum’s Artistic Director) and James Chapman (Tantrum’s Associate Director). The play follows the lives of five main characters who go on their individual journeys throughout the piece, but they interlink in clever ways. It’s been a really fun process working with the actors and writing the scripts and directing really funny but meaningful scenes. I’ve loved collaborating with Lucy and James as well as all the young artists involved. There are so many great people involved in this show. Lucy and Tamara (Tantrum’s Producer) are so supportive and great mentors for young artists, like myself. It’s such a privilege to work with them. I’ve learned so much and I’m really passionate about everything Tantrum’s doing. It’s such a supportive environment for young people to improve professionally, but it’s also a safe place where they can be themselves and not have to worry about outside pressures and expectations.

Are you a performer yourself?

I never really see myself as a performer. I see myself first as a sort of a… theatre weirdo. I’m just there, doing other stuff mainly. I mainly do a lot of directing and writing and backstage stuff, but I always love the opportunity to perform when I’m given the chance, and it’s something I’d like to do more of. I’ve been really fortunate to be cast in Alex Travers’ new production Sleep, Perchance To Dream, which is being presented by Tantrum Youth Arts in partnership with Alex. It’s a really exciting physical theatre work that will be on at the Civic later this year. I was so excited when I found out I got the part. I danced around my house, told everyone I knew. The show’s based on a work that Alex developed through the Tantrum Trajectory Residency in 2017. It’s going to be fantastic. I’ve also been lucky enough to have the encouragement of Keri Glastonbury to start performing my poetry work around Newcastle – and I’ll basically do anything she tells me to because she’s so cool and inspiring. I’ve performed at Her Art Open as an open-miker, the International Women’s Day Poetry Salon, and I recently ran a poetry night at The Press Book House called Mental Monologues, which was all about mental health. I think it’s really therapeutic to talk about mental health issues and take ownership of your experiences through poetry, and talk about it and share with a big audience of people who will relate to you and be receptive of what you’re saying. It also helps educate other people about different mental health issues that they haven’t experienced and create better understanding, which is good for everyone. Newcastle has such a lovely and thriving poetry community. I didn’t realise! Everyone I’ve met through it has been so supportive and clever and creative. I hope to do more poetry stuff because it’s been really fun!

What would you like to say to the people of Newcastle?

I really encourage more people to go out and see more theatre and performance events in Newcastle. There’s so much on and happening. We have a thriving theatre scene – we just need more people to go out and buy tickets! It’s sometimes hard to get people to see shows that aren’t musicals they’ve already heard of before. I think people get nervous when they don’t know what’s in store, but there are so many awesome new productions on this year. It’s such a shame to miss them, because once shows are over, they’re over. I want people to know that you don’t have to be involved in theatre (or know someone in the show) to go out and enjoy it. I promise you will have a great time!

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Tantrum Youth Arts is a not-for-profit organisation focused on development opportunities for young people, emerging artists and professionals in creative and performing arts.

The One: 18th– 22nd April 2018, King Edward Park

Sleep, Perchance To Dream: 29th August–2nd September 2018, Civic Playhouse

Tickets from www.tantrum.org.au