An Australian expat in New York for the past several years, Alexandra Collier was introduced to me by a mutual friend who put us in touch for a well-timed coffee date while Alexandra visited Sydney for the Sydney Theatre Company reading of her play, Underland. After her return to the U.S., we coordinated international schedules to have this conversation about the influence expat life has on her artistic life, studying with Mac Wellman, and her upcoming collaborative show Off-Broadway at the Women’s Project.

I can write as many American characters as I like, I can write plays set in America, but my voice, my ear is Australian. 


How long have you been living in the U.S.? What made you go there, in the first place?

I’ve been here six years in May. I moved here initially because I was training with the SITI Company. I did their six-week Saratoga training program upstate at Skidmore, so I came over to do that. I’d trained with them before in New York, and I just really loved New York. I had a really good time. I was basically an actor back then – ostensibly the SITI Company summer training in Skidmore is for actors, and directors and writers, but it’s more of an actor based training.

I packed up all my stuff in Australia, and I decided I was going to move to New York. (more…)

It was late night for Christine Evans, and morning the next day for me when we spoke – she in her Providence, Rhode Island home, and I in Sydney. I was particularly keen to get Christine’s insights on the differences and similarities between Australian and American theatre because she has been living in the U.S. for over a decade, which gives her a unique cultural vantage point. Not only did she tell me about Australian theatre, but she gave me new glimpses into my own native culture, from her “in-between” perspective.

“Making the transition has forced me to be an internationalist. I feel that I don’t quite belong anywhere. It is the collisions between things that really catch my ear and eye now.” 


How long have you been in the U.S. and what brought you there?

I have been here nearly 11 years. I moved over here to do the MFA in Playwriting at Brown, thanks to a Fulbright Scholarship. After the MFA, I had only been here two years, and I felt that I was only starting to get my feet, (more…)

With kids on school holidays, Hilary Bell had a full schedule when I asked her if she’d talk with me for this project. Undeterred, Hilary offered up her kitchen table as a place for a chat. Over tea and cake,  she told me about her love of Sondheim, her experiences at Julliard, what it was like growing up in a theatrical family, and why being a part of 7-On is so important to her.

“Being a playwright is always ultimately collaborative because you don’t write just for yourself, but for the many interpretations that come between you and the audience; but, there is a period where you can sit in your room for many months with no one to talk to. While I enjoy that, I am at a point where I am looking to work with dancers, and painters, and aerial acrobats, and see what else theatre can be.”


I am struck by the uniqueness of your style. It hardly seems to fit easily into a “category.” Do you have a way of describing your style?

For a long time, my aim was to never repeat what I had done. That was not because I wanted to dazzle and be brilliant, but to see what was out there and explore different possibilities. (more…)

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