Monday, May 13, 2013

Woman Online...

Woman Online interviewed me...  Here it is with the link... yay.

Woman Online interviewed Jenine Collocott, Creative Director and an extremely talented woman.

Please introduce yourself and tell us about the path that led you to where you are today.

My name is Jenine Collocott and I am the Creative Director of my theatre and creative consultancy company Hello Elephant.  My work includes commercial theatre, corporate theatre and video, writing, directing and producing as well as television writing.  Most recently I was appointed as a senior writer on two new seasons of Takalani Sesame.
My latest play Sunday Morning, which I directed and produced, was selected by the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown as part of their Solo Season on their Main Programme in 2012 (along with theatre icons such as Pieter Dirk-Uys and Janice Honeyman). The development of Sunday Morning was commissioned by the Goethe Institut as part of their GoetheonMain initiative.  The play has traveled to a number of theatres and festivals in South Africa to high critical acclaim.  In 2013, we were nominated for five Naledi Theatre Awards three of which were for Best Director,  Best Lighting Design and Best Play.  It has been earmarked for an international tour in 2014.
In 2000 after I had returned from traveling for two years in Europe I moved to Johannesburg where I landed my first job in the event company VWV Productions as a corporate theatre producer.  I soon realised that whilst I loved the work – it was dynamic and exciting – I needed something more creative.  I went to study film at the film school, AFDA, in Milpark Johannesburg where I graduated in 2005 with a BA Hons (cum laude) in Live Performance.  All the while putting myself through film school by freelancing for VWV Productions and learning much about the industry.   As a new graduate I immediately began working for various corporate theatre companies as a theatre writer and director as well as making my own plays.  But it still wasn’t enough.   In 2010 (as a newly wed) I decided to further my studies once again but this time in Florence Italy, under the internationally celebrated pedagog Giovanni Fusetti as his theatre school Helikos (much to my husbands dismay!).  
Tell us about your business.
I have produced a number of commercial theatre plays to date, including Willy’s Ark, with the iconic James Borthwick.  Weekend Special, which was selected for ‘the return’ of the Windybrow Theatre Festival in 2011; High Diving, with Toni Morkel and James Cairns.  High Diving won a 2010 Ovation Award and was nominated for 2010 Handspring Puppet Company Award for Best Design; Dirt, with James Cairns and written by my husband and creative cohort, the international award winning author, Nick Warren. Dirt has recently returned from Australia where it was invited to the 2013 Fringe World Festival and was nominated for an Artrage Award. Dirt has recently been invited for a run at Theatre on the Square from the 28 May – 9 June. Sunday Morning with the critically acclaimed James Cuningham and written by Nick Warren.  Sunday Morning has been nominated for a number awards and detailed above.
Currently I am working on a number of new projects – Making Mandela, for which I received a writing grant from the National Arts Council. The Snow Goose with James Cairns and Taryn Bennett and produced by Kalk Bay Theatre Productions.  And finally A Day in the Desert with German clown and concert harpist Barbara Draeger.  Both The Snow Goose and A Day in the Desert will premiere at the 2013 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.
In between all of my many commercial theatre endeavors, I also inject a real passion and professional rigor into the often abused and mediocre world of corporate theatre and video production. I do this by calling on my experience – as well as the many contacts and colleagues – that I have acquired as a result of my tenure in the professional industry.
In 2012 I broke some ground with two specific projects, Out of the Blue for Standard Bank and The Responsible Trader Roadshow for SAB – both of which I was creative head, writer and director.  The event production company Mann Made Media, who I regularly freelance for, submitted these two projects as part of their 2012 Loeries Submissions.  The Responsible Trader  Roadshow was nominated for an Ubuntu Loerie award.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where you are today?
The largest obstacle facing our industry is the lack of theatre audiences.  South Africans don’t really go to the theatre.  To overcome this I tour a number of plays extensively to schools and festivals – taking theatre to the audience – thus keeping these shows technically simple and theatrically vibrant.
On the corporate theatre front I treat this work as I would my own plays – A corporate audience like any audience deserves respect and it is not often that one gets to entertain at times 1000 ‘s of people.  And I think that this ethos keeps me regularly commissioned by various clients.
In our industry it is very hard to only do one thing – If you are only an actor or only a director the scope of work available to you is lessened.  I have honed my expertise in various areas of directing, writing, producing… and sometimes performing.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Still making great theatre with artistic integrity to full audiences… that and a few more rands in the bank!
Who would you say has been your greatest role model and why?
I have had a number of wonderful teachers in my life and I am inspired by all of them for different reasons.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Well my work is so all-consuming that in my spare time I am generally making theatre masks – which takes time and is therapeutic.  Other than that I am still threatening to start yoga!
What advice do you have for other aspiring business people?
If you love it… Do it…  Then share it.
Twitter – @jeninecollocott

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