Emilie Collyer

Alums | 1998 - 2007

Performer in Ensemble Cast, Committee: 2004-06 (Deputy Chair 2005-06) 
About Emilie

Emilie Collyer writes plays, fiction and poetry that often ask difficult questions about humanity via a speculative or fantastical lens. Theatre awards and shortlistings of note include: The Good Girl (Winner Best Writer Melbourne Fringe  & Green Room Nomination), Dream Home (shortlisted Edward Albee Scholarship and Patrick White Award, seven Green Room Nominations), Promise (Winner George Fairfax Award, Highly Commended Patrick White Award), Argonauta (Winner Young Playwright’s Award).

Commissions include: Malthouse, Arena, ABC Radio, Punctum Inc, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne Writers Festival and St Martins. In 2016 Emilie received the Malcolm Robertson Prize (Malthouse) for her play Contest and was selected for the inaugural MTC Women in Theatre Program. The Good Girl has played in New York, Hollywood and Florida. Once Were Pirates at Edinburgh and Adelaide Fringe. Contestwill premiere in 2018.

Published work includes The Lifted Brow, Aurealis, Overland, Cordite, Kill Your Darlings, The Big Issue, Allegory (USA), Cosmic Vegetable (USA), and two fiction collections with Clan Destine Press. Her prose and poetry has won numerous awards including three Scarlet Stiletto crime writing awards.

Emilie is a graduate of Professional Writing and Editing RMIT and Masters in Writing for Performance VCA, University of Melbourne. She is a member of creative producing collective New Working Group.

Website: www.betweenthecracks.net 

How has improvisation added to your career or life?
It was absolutely formative in my development as an artist. I fell into impro at a casual class I attended in my early 20s and fell in love with it as a form. The challenges and liberties of flying by the seat of your pants, creating instant stories and having to be truly in the moment both excited and terrified me. It taught me a huge amount about narrative, storytelling, character and the relationship between performers and audience - all of which went on to inform my writing. 

What has Impro Melbourne given you?
Impro Melbourne gave me a community of like-minded people with whom I cut my creative teeth. It also, literally, gave me income for a crucial time as I developed my performance and teaching skills. What I learned as a teacher at IM was the foundation for all teaching and workshop facilitation I have done since. And the community continues as well. While I no longer perform regularly with IM I know I am always welcome and I am always delighted to be invited to play. The professional and personal connections I made at the company also carry on outside IM, as friends, collaborators and colleagues.
Oh, and I met my partner, Ross Daniels via Impro Melbourne. I bet a romance audit of the company would show pretty high stats ... :)

Can you share a favourite Impro Melbourne moment? Either on stage or off.
Performing in Per Gottfredsson's improvised Bergman show during Spontaneous Global Combustion in 2005 was surreal, wonderful and amazing. To be steeped in someone else's culture, digging into a whole different kind of narrative, at a festival surrounded by improvisers from all over the world was truly special.
Snapping these photos (attached) of Jason Geary and Rama Nicholas when we were on tour together (I think in 2007). Simple moments of friendship.
To my utter surprise and delight, having the gorgeous Jessica Joan Graham thank me at her 30th birthday for the impact I had on her as a teacher. There is nothing quite like the feeling that you've contributed to someone's life in that way.

Any words of advice for improvisers?
Work with as many different people and teachers and improvisers as you can. Build up a range of impro muscles and skills. Devour culture in a whole bunch of different forms too: theatre, film, television, literature, music, art, politics, philosophy. Impro reflects life and the richer yours is the more you have to bring to the workshop, the stage, your fellow performers and your audiences.
Also, bring yourself. This is one of the favourite pieces of advice I got from a Keith Johnstone workshop - there is nobody exactly like you so your 'obvious' will not be everyone else's obvious. I heard this quote that is apparently from Virginia Woolf: 'No need to hurry, no need to sparkle, no need to be anyone except yourself.' I like it, for life and for impro.