Maria Askew, artistic director of Superbolt Theatre talks to TQC about collaborative working, having the courage to be vulnerable and ‘faffing’
Maria is Artistic Director of Superbolt Theatre and a freelance actor, director and teacher. She is based in London and works in the UK and internationally.
- Tell us about you – what motivates you?
Other people. My company is run collaboratively which means we create our shows as an ensemble and also make company decisions collectively. This is a challenging and intensely satisfying way of working. My colleagues provoke me in all sorts of surprising ways! Having other people around to generate ideas with in the rehearsal room and to manage the practical side of running a company means I am continuously asked to consider different view points and find answers together. It is not always easy, but I have learned so much about theatre making through this shared process. For me it is about putting the work first, over ego or personal doubt, and finding a voice together. I am constantly learning.
Then, in a larger sense, the world we live in. Theatre is simply my response to some of what I observe and feel around me. And when audiences come along and share in what we have created, showing such understanding and joy, it is a truly incredible feeling.
Teaching students is also a very motivating aspect of my life. The students’ questions and courage make me want to share all I can and challenge them just like I have been challenged so far in my theatrical education. It is wonderful to be able to exchange my findings with their refreshing energy and varied outlooks on the world.
- What does a day in the life of you look like?
Well, being a freelance performer and running my own theatre company means no day is ever the same! When I am touring a show, the day will probably be dominated by traveling, teching and performing. Another day might be completely different- I could be on a shoot working on someone else’s project, which can be a lovely change of rhythm and way of creating. Many days are focused on administration, meetings and general ‘faffing’. I enjoy the flexibility of working my own hours from home or perhaps in a cafe. It also means I can meet up with other freelancers, who often have similarly random schedules. Then in my free time, I love to be with friends, read, have dinners, see shows, go dancing – all these activities are very important to me too!
- What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
This question is so difficult! People sometimes say it’s very courageous to get up onstage and perform, but actually for me that can be one of the easier parts of my life! I love it. Moving to Paris to live alone and study at Jacques Lecoq Theatre School was definitely a very intimidating and brave move for me. And I am so glad I made that choice as it was a great adventure and has helped shape who I am today. But I also think my true moments of courage have been when I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and completely honest both in my professional and personal life, and being able to say words like ’I need help’ or ’I love you’ have all been part of this!
- What does Balance mean to you in your life?
For me, balance has a lot to do with accepting what is. If I feel like I need to address the balance in how my days are spent and change something then generally I have the power to to do so, but if I don’t want to or feel I can’t then it is really about embracing the moment. It is good to remember that actually the world won’t fall apart if something doesn’t happen when or how I’d like it too- I am not that important, no one is! Life is a journey not an end point and I am enjoying the ride!
- Who is your role model and why?
My mum. She is a one of the wisest women I know and has always been a source of inspiration for me. She came over to the UK from Ecuador many years ago and works as an oncologist in Bristol. She has affected many people’s lives through her wisdom and kindness, and is strong, courageous role model. A great deal of my strength and values come from her. My mum’s support of my choices has enabled me to study, travel, move abroad, set up my own company and ultimately find my own path, even when it seemed uncertain.
- What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve read, seen or done in the last month?
Well, I spent the last month of August performing my show Jurassic Park at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and, while I was there, I saw some very inspirational theatre shows. One of these shows was a piece called K’rd Strip: A Place to Stand by a New Zealand based company Okareka Dance. The show is based on Karangahape road, a red light district area in Auckland, and the male prostitution scene that surrounds it. What it inspired me most about this show was that it felt very honest, relevant and brave, as well as totally unique and unapologetic in its form (a blend of cabaret, drama, Māori dance and comedy). The piece had me laughing one moment then with tears streaming down my face the next, and I love shows that achieve this dynamic! But the whole month at the Edinburgh fringe was a very inspiring and humbling experience. I met many brave companies and individuals putting on all sorts of work. If you haven’t been, I recommend checking it out
To find out about what Superbolt Theatre has got coming up check out their website HERE, or on Twitter @Superboltplays @maria__askew