Rosie Cann is a performer, writer, and creator. Last year she completed her masters in playwriting, and she is currently touring New Zealand with an educational show for schools. I have known Rosie for the past two years, and in that time I have grown to admire both her work and her person. In the latter part of 2015 Rosie launched Art Murmurs, and after managing of the website for the first half of 2016 myself, I realised how important her vision was.
Rosie has been performing (relatively seriously, as she puts it) since she was in her late teens, “...because it felt really really good to be able to feel things I had never experienced, as if they were real. The empathetic aspect of acting is what I think will keep me coming back.” This led Rosie to study Theatre Studies at university, and encourages to influence her artistic work.
I was fascinated to learn that Rosie’s past experiences in theatre have heavily influenced her current work. “Recently, I am most influenced by subject matter, the people I’m collaborating with, and the spirit of the thing. I’ve been lucky enough to work with Pat-a-Cake productions recently and the kaupapa and vibe of their entity is so intoxicatingly positive, warm, and driven that it’s influenced what I hold up in a rehearsal room. On a similar note, working as part of Definitely Not Witches influences me every rehearsal - I learnt to value the safety and comfort of people in the room over any other aspect of rehearsal, and it makes for generous, harmonious work which is then better for everyone being happy.”
So why did Rosie wish to create a new art reviewing website during last year? “I created Art Murmurs because I was tired of bureaucratic nonsense and out-of-touch reviewing,” she says. “I kept reading reviews from the established authorities that said nothing constructive at all. In any theatre environment, and especially somewhere like BATS or exciting spaces like 17 Tory Street, it’s important to acknowledge that a show can have potential for a return season or development at any stage. While studying writing we were told a play wasn’t itself until it’s THIRD season. If we’re not giving reviews with fair, honest, future-focused feedback, how do we expect a show to fully reach its potential? If we give needlessly cruel feedback and offer no solutions, we’re condemning creative works to never improving, never returning, and as such never being fully realised, and that’s a real bummer.”
And so Art Murmurs was born, but not without a few bumps along the road. “The hardest thing about starting Art Murmurs was thinking I could do it by myself. I couldn’t, and the site suffered, because I wanted to administrate and design and review all at once… Turns out Wellington is brimming with bright, politically-aware, eloquent writers who are looking to get things credited to them and keen to learn about reviewing.”
The focus on constructive responses to artists has remained a focus of our work. “We haven’t always been perfect, but part of the kaupapa for Art Murmurs in my mind was accessibility, timeliness, and constructive honesty. I wanted for anyone to be able to request a review, for them to see it in good time after their opening, and for it to do justice to the piece while looking to the future."
Rosie has just finished performing a one-woman show as her alter-ego, Chapstick, as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival. She calls Chapstick’s original iterative, born from an improv show, “...a badass lady rapper who went around absorbing people talents vampirically if my memory serves…”
How intriguing! Rosie goes on to say that, “Chapstick is one of the more opinionated and daring characters I’ve played. She’s got a lot of energy and a lot of fun in her, but she’s also sassy and naughty and pretty crude and that’s an area that challenges me and I love it. She says things I would never want my parents hearing, and it’s rad….”
At the moment Rosie is touring with Duffy, a company who produces books and theatre to young New Zealanders. “Working with Duffy has been an incredible opportunity... working with children is so renewing because they have so much energy to give you... they are surprising, energetic and they do not lie. I feel like working with such a beautiful and brutal audience has helped me shape my craft a lot in terms of failing gloriously, thickening up my skin, and really feeling those moments of child-like joy on stage. You can't fool children, and it's made me a stronger performer not being allowed to try! You just have to go for it and that's what I adore.”
Rosie will continue touring with Duffy, writing plays, improvising, acting, hosting radio shows, singing, dancing and generally being a talented and creative human for the foreseeable future. If you hear or see that Rosie is performing near you, be sure to book tickets fast!
To learn more about Duffy Theatre, head to http://www.booksinhomes.org.nz/Page/Theatre/TheatreHome.aspx
*Click on Team Red to view Rosie's profile!
Photo Credit to Alex Whyte