Time to re:group

23 Apr

A scene from ‘Floorboards#01’ – a site-specific work by ‘re:group’. Photo courtesy of re:group.

For someone who got into theatre because it seemed ‘like a fun thing to do’, Ryan McGoldrick has come a long way.

From doing drama in high school to co-establishing a theatre collective, the fourth year honours student can think of nothing else he’d rather be doing.

Although he does admit his direction has altered since beginning his degree.

“What I’m doing now isn’t anything like I thought I’d be doing when I came into the course three years ago when I finished high school.  I just wanted my name in the lights, like most people really, so yeah, I guess I’ve undergone a bit of twist on that,” Ryan says.

As a graduate of the University of Wollongong Creative Arts degree in Performance, Ryan played a significant role in forming the performance collective, re:group, which he says is something he had been considering for quite some time.

“Certainly for me, that was something that I really wanted to do,” Ryan says of forming the group.

“There was a lot of people in the year, in the faculty that I wanted to work with quite closely, so I just sent out a few emails and pitched to a few people, is anyone interested, and got a really overwhelming response and we’ve taken off since then.”

Ryan says that the group, which was established towards the end of last year and is made up of about 10 people, takes a cross-disciplinary approach to theatre, using a number of different mediums.

“Basically we’re just a collective of graduates from the performance course.  I guess we share an interest in aesthetically rich image-based work that crosses medium boundaries, so we play with obviously performance and the live body but also video and sound.”

So far, the group has put together two pieces that both explore what it is to inhabit spaces; Floorboards #1, which was a site-specific work and Brickworks, a video installation piece which was exhibited at Project Contemporary Artspace in Wollongong.

Ryan is modest in admitting that the group were chosen by the Wollongong Youth Centre for their National Youth week launch festivities.

He is also realistic in recognising the challenges of pursuing theatre, with re:group as well as personally.  He says that the biggest challenge, particularly in Wollongong, is finding an audience.

“I guess the challenges of any type of art endeavour in Wollongong is there’s just not a very large field of…I wouldn’t say interest, but you know, funding and stuff like that.

“It’s not something that I endeavour to make millions of dollars from.  I’m under no illusion for the funding restrictions and things like that in this country but having said that I’m absolutely dedicated to art, it’s what all of us in the group are so passionate about.”

And passionate he is.  Ryan’s love of theatre is obvious, especially when he gets to talking about hybrid theatre practices, which is the type of theatre he hopes to pursue.  No longer interested in being just an actor, Ryan has dabbled in writing and directing, and particularly enjoys experimenting with sound and video.

“Personally I’m leaning more towards the creative side of things now as opposed to on stage performing,” Ryan says, although he’s aware that he needs to keep his options open in this industry.

“I do believe that art is a utopian endeavour, particularly contemporary art, a lot of the kind of abstract ideas, the kind of Fantastical with a capital F, that you can engage with and ideas that you can engage with in contemporary art,” he says of his love of contemporary theatre.

“You can’t do that in any other institution or discourse in the world – its so boundary-less and exciting.  You can deal with so many issues and aspects of life and expression that you can’t in other institutions.”

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