artist interviews

ella taylor

twenty, she/her

what is your art form?

the art form i have worked with the most is stage acting, but i’ve also done a little bit of directing/facilitating and writing.

what do you do and why do you do it?

i try to get involved in local theatre projects, whether it's to act or to help facilitate, because there's such a joy in seeing something, especially pieces created by young people or local artists, come to life and tell a story. you get to be a part of bringing something to fruition that has the potential to really connect with others. and if you're on the stage, for a little while you step outside and embody a character that in the end is wholly yours and becomes a little part of you. i think that's a little bit magic.

who/what has inspired you in your artistic practice and why?

i think the artists i've worked with in the last few years have been a huge influence in my outlook on art and theatre! seeing theatre adapted from being musical and strictly scripted to being interpretive, wholesome and safe is... wild. that's not to say musical theatre and other larger projects are not a joy to work on but i think in the last few years, the companies and individuals i have worked with have created a new form of art for me that really encourages the idea of making the pieces and the characters you get to embody for a little while completely your own! i think theatre to me now exists as a safe space and that is something as an artist i hope to also cultivate and reflect when I'm working on a new project.

what do you think your role is as an artist? has anything stopped you from fulfilling this role?

i’ve never really seen myself as an artist, i feel like i jump in and out of artistic projects and exist in these spaces as a guest for a little while which is a privilege and a curse really. i wish i was an ??artist?? but i've never quite felt like i've achieved enough to deserve that title! i watch the people around me be brilliant and talented artists and i love getting to be part of that for a little while but i don't define myself as an artist and i genuinely put that down to the fear i have of... not being good enough.

what have been the biggest challenges in your artistic journey?

confidence in my own ability, and in stepping up and allowing myself to do things that pushed me out of my comfort zone! i wouldn't have done half the projects that i have done if i had not let myself explore new opportunities.

do you believe that good art comes from turmoil and suffering, or is that a romantic notion?

i think good art can come from anywhere.

you don't need catastrophe to create beauty and telling ourselves we do creates the expectation of suffering for something to come to fruition. art can be painful and ugly and shit but at the same time do we not find art in love? and warmth? and the comfort of others? i think expecting art from turmoil and suffering romanticises the idea of the 'poor starving artist'.

it's important to recognise that it's a privilege to create art without suffering. but it's not a necessity.

that's not to say that we don't get incredible pieces of work from darker experiences and that we shouldn't because what is art if not a way to tell a story and heal? but there's beauty in the healing as well and i think remembering that cultivates a whole new scene for artists.

how do you feel your age impacts your experience as an artist?

i think it's hard being a young person in the arts scene! i think the experiences, stories and work of young people are often disregarded due to age and 'immaturity.' and with that a lot of people including myself are discouraged from continuing art and theatre!

what about your gender/race/sexuality/disability etc.?

being someone who isn't white has been an eye opening experience in art. you feel as though sometimes things are handed to you to meet a racial minority quota and you stand on stage and think 'am i the best for this role or am i the diversity card?' and that feeling doesn't go away for a while. i think in the last few years i've stood and thought 'if i bring up race and diversity again, will people think i'm pulling the same card and disregard what i'm saying because i've said it before?' there's joy in bringing a different perspective to the table but suddenly there is the worry that you become a token for people to use to excuse lack of outreach and crappy behaviour. i have a huge sense of guilt for the behaviour and comments i've let slide and laughed at in the rehearsal room that have been at the expense of people who looked like me or were other racial minorities because when you're the only non-white person in the room, suddenly the onus falls on you to call it out and when i don't and when i haven't, i've said it's okay.

there's a huge problem with performative diversity outreach in theatre and the normalisation of casual racism and i think it's taken me a while to come to terms with that, especially when it's been people i have been close to, who maybe don’t realise they have done it, that i observe it from.

inclusivity doesn't just mean reaching out a hand and saying an opportunity exists, it means reaching out a hand and saying this is also a safe space for you to grow and being willing to learn.

when it comes to art, what would you tell your younger self?

i think i'd tell her to stop ignoring how much you love theatre, that there isn't a set path or trajectory that she has to follow and there's so much joy to be found in doing something that you're truly passionate about. i think she would turn around and probably say the same thing back to me if she saw where I was now, which is... hilarious. i think she'd tell me to stop being so cynical and teach me how to truly appreciate how magic art can be!

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