6 Questions for Ursula Yovich
Ursula Yovich is the writer of Man With The Iron Neck as well as a performer in it. After successful seasons of the show across Australia, we’re heading to Darwin Festival next week with this pivotal show portraying a heart-felt, confronting Australian story of love, loss, and community. Ursula also announced at the recent Helpmann Awards her intention to step back from the stage. We asked her 6 questions about her, the show and where she wants to go next.
1) What inspired you become an artist in the first place? How did you come to express yourself in so many ways; play writing, song writing, singing, stage acting and screen acting?
I think we are all innately creative. If you asked my father he would say I was always singing around the house as a child, it was constant. It’s human nature to reach out, be heard and to hear other stories, to connect. I was inspired when I realised that the arts isn’t just about pure entertainment. The Arts can give you a platform to voice your concerns around issues that would otherwise be swept under the carpet. I was inspired by the many shows I was involved in as a young woman. “The Dreamers” by Jack Davis, ‘The Sunshine Club’ by Wesley Enoch, ‘Capricornia’ by Louis Nowra to name a few. I was also inspired by the artists I had the privilege of getting to know and sometimes work with. I know this is my life. I want to talk about things that matter to me and my community and my people.
2) Are there any nuances to writing for physical theatre you found surprising or interesting that you'd like to share? how would you approach writing for a physical theatre project in the future?
I came on board a little later so I was gifted with some amazing physical work that Josh and Gavin had already created. It inspired me and what we have is a powerful story. I wouldn’t change that process at all. I am still learning. But if I were to write for physical theatre again I would like to try things the other way around, and see what physical imagery would come from the script.
3) Man With The Iron Neck is a pertinent story which is facilitating conversations, healing and social change with every performance of it. What is important to you about this work, and what changes would you like to see effected within our relationships, community and politics in relation to the story presented in Man With The Iron Neck?
We can’t change anything if the county doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the high suicide rates in our communities. I am hoping this sparks real conversation and for people to be outraged. Not just “oh, I’m angry but what can I do”? No one in this country, Black or white or Brindle should suffer mental health issues and not get the support they need, No one should live a life where they believe suicide is the only option. I want people to be outraged. Where are the support services for mental health. Where are the support services for mental health for our countrymen? First Nations People of this country are still dealing with this issue and it’s getting worse not better. Our Government will not ever change unless its people change.
4) You've been considering pulling back from the stage for quite some time now and your announcement at this year's Helpmann's was a public milestone within your journey towards focusing your energies. What were some of the main components of your decision making process that you feel would be valuable to share with younger artists?
I would encourage younger artists to create your own art. Enjoy being a part of someone else's vision but make sure you nurture your own spirit. Create for you. Don’t tie yourself down to just one medium go and have a play. Write, act in theatre, do film, write for film, paint, write a children’s book, write a song, perform said song. Enjoy what it means to be an artist. And always approach and do things with respect and dignity and be nice but firm. And most important don’t be afraid to say no. You don’t have to do everything.
5) It seems the world is your oyster! What inspirations or topics you would like to draw from in your future work, and why?…
I think writing about our mob and our way of life and our amazing stories… That’s more than a lifetime of inspiration there. I can only speak what I know. I know my people are still fighting to be recognised as a sovereign people of this land. My people are still fighting for self autonomy, self determination. As long as we are fighting for that I have a lot to draw from.
6) Lastly, what would your "dream gig" look like?
Work Dream… Write for film, theatre and music. Continue acting in film and tv. travel the world singing at folk festivals.
Life Dream… Live in the tropics in a small coastal town. Near the beach. I want simplicity. I’m still a long way from that but I am dreaming hard and working towards that!