By Shayannah Beck
Creative artist Louise Richardson, 23, said it was her father’s death from cancer that made her realise she wanted to follow her passion.
“Before I lost my Dad, I’d been in this frame of mind where I had to find a job but then, when my life changed so quickly, I thought, why don’t I do something that I’m passionate about?”
With an interest in acting from high school and more than a decade’s experience as a dancer behind her, Louise enrolled in a Bachelor of Creative Arts at Deakin University.
“We learned slowly,” she said. “We weren’t just thrown in the deep end and I think that’s the really good thing about Deakin. It arms you with the skills to produce your own work.”
Louise received the Deakin Drama group ensemble award for Excellence in Devising for their project Make Sense. As part of the award, Louise and her team redeveloped Make Sense into No(sense): do you feel it too? and performed it in the Melbourne Fringe Festival 2016. “We had quite a bit of tension in our group...but I think in a natural sort of way. This was the culmination of three years at uni and we didn’t want to half do it,” Louise said.
Louise volunteers at Fusion Theatre in Dandenong, an all-abilities theatre company, where she worked as an assistant and performer in A Place Called Maze. The production was inspired from Shaun Tan’s book The Red Tree.
Louise, who lives in Strathmore, spends close to two hours on public transport to get to the theatre. “After my first day, I was like ‘distance is nothing’... I just came home so inspired. There was no inhibition in that room,” she said.
She was invited to work in A Place Called Maze by Magda Miranda, director of the production, after Magda saw Louise perform in Make Sense. “Louise caught my attention at the time because I saw how professional she was. I liked her work ethic,” Magda said.
Magda says Louise was great to work with in A Place Called Maze:“I was like sometimes, oh gosh, this thing isn’t going to work, and she was there smiling and helping me and making me believe that it would,” she said.
Dr Jo Raphael, President and Artistic Director of Fusion Theatre, worked occassionally with the ensemble in A Place Called Maze. “Sometimes people [the artists] can be a little condescending, like they’re there to help. But Louise was able to join the ensemble and support from within the work, rather than from heavy-handed helping,” Jo said. When Fusion Theatre offered a workshop for asylum seeker women and their pre-school aged children, Jo thought Louise would be perfect for the job. “She has such a beautiful and gentle way of working (in A Place Called Maze),” Jo said.
Louise said she loves the challenge of running the workshop. “It’s a rewarding feeling when you see someone getting pleasure out of art and perfoming: every time I see those moments it reignites my passion for it,” Louise said.
Louise’s latest project is her own show, which she said was inspired by an assessment piece she did at Deakin. “As part of the assessment we had to present a persona of ourselves. so I chose the moment when I first found out my dad was unwell,” she said. “I had a couple of months when I was really into it and was doing a bit everyday I do have times when I sit down and I’m going to write, and then I’ll sit there and nothing comes to me,” she said.
But Louise said she won’t give up.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from Deakin was that you can do it,”Louise said. “I’ve learned so many different skills that I feel confident I can try. So now I can put them all together and back myself.”
Shayannah Beck is an Arts and Law student at Deakin University, majoring in Anthropology and Journalism. She completed her VCE at Distance Education Centre Victoria. She has represented Victoria in tennis, has competed in state and national tennis tournaments, and achieved a highest Australian Ranking of 151. Shayannah enjoys surfing and wildwater kayaking, and has paddled on the Mersey River, Snowy River and Goulbourn River in downriver state and national championships. In 2015, she was selected for the Australian Wildwater Team. She was a statistician in the 2017 Austrailan Open, and covenes table tennis and badminton events. Shayannah has six brothers.