Work of Art: Clara Solly Slade cuts her teeth on the stages of State Theatre and State Opera

Clara Solly Slade is currently interning at both the State Theatre Company of South Australia and State Opera South Australia through the Helpmann Academy Emerging Director Fellowship – the first program of its kind in Australia.

Adelaide College of the Arts graduate Clara was awarded the opportunity late last year at the annual Helpmann Academy Wrap Up Party at Ayers House and has kicked off her 2019 working behind the scenes on the State Theatre Company’s productions of Animal Farm and A View from the Bridge and State Opera’s Cunning Little Vixen.

“I still catch myself being too excited to sleep some nights when I know I get to wake up the next day and go back to the theatre or rehearsal room,” says Solly Slade. “It has been such a unique arrangement to swap between State Opera and State Theatre and experience first-hand how vastly different the processes between the two mediums are.”

The Fellowship came at an opportune time for Clara, with the acting graduate looking to break away from her drama training and move into new directions.

“I feel like I am in a bit of a bowerbird phase at the moment and am still trying to gather as many new skills and as much inspiration as possible,” says Solly Slade. “I have been trying to learn as much as I can about directing theatre and gaining workshop facilitation skills focusing on socially conscious theatre. Shifting away from acting feels like a really exciting expansion for me.”

Clara’s passion for socially conscious theatre was solidified during her trip to the USA in 2018 as a part of the Helpmann Academy Neil Curnow Award. Clara embarked on a three-month program of her own design, which included internships at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Company in Brooklyn, New York City, the H.E.A.T Collective in New York City, and Working Classroom in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“The ideas and practises I was exposed to whilst in the USA really shaped and clarified what drives me personally and encouraged me to find the bravery to ask questions and explore ideas which excite me rather than purely responding to what I think would be the ‘right’ work to produce in order to be successful,” says Solly Slade.

“At its core, I truly believe in the importance of storytelling to increase our ability to empathise and understand each other. This understanding helps us become more compassionate as a collective, not just towards each other but also ourselves.”

“I also get to wear trackies to work on rehearsal days which is the ultimate goal really,” says Solly Slade.

After returning from the USA last year, Clara was inspired to start her own project, Hinge Arts. Her hope is to run a range of socially conscious performances, projects and programs through the company, with her first workshop taking place in NSW at the beginning of 2019 with the Western Sydney Migrant Resource centre working with their refugee and asylum seeker youth.

This project is currently on hiatus as Clara focusses on the Helpmann Academy Emerging Director Fellowship – but she has big plans for 2020.

“I want to take the leap and direct my first theatre piece and hopefully consolidate some of the skills I have learnt this year. It is the beginning of a really exciting time for the independent theatre scene in Adelaide, there is a really hardworking group of artists starting some exciting projects here and I really look forward to getting inspired by the work they produce.”

Clara Solly-Slade was the inaugural recipient of the Helpmann Academy Emerging Director Fellowship, presented in partnership with State Theatre Company South Australia and State Opera South Australia. Clara was also the recipient of Helpmann Academy’s 2018 Neil Curnow Award, presented in partnership with the Independent Arts Foundation.

Learn more about the artists that Helpmann Academy support at helpmannacademy.com.au

The Adelaide Review is a media partner of Helpmann Academy

Header image:
Clara Solly Slade during a rehearsal for the State Theatre’s A View From The Bridge (Photo: Mike Smith)

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