An Interview With

Isabelle McDonald

Writer of the 2017 Martin Sims Award Winning Show: Bus Boy



How long have you been an artist? Can you tell us a bit about your practice?

I have been a theatre maker for a long time, but professionally since I was 17 years old. I began just as a performer deviser but after working with some incredible directors realised it was something I wanted to explore, and writing has always been close to my heart. Bus Boy was the first full length piece I had ever written, but it was a story I had wanted to tell for a long time.


Congratulations on your win! can you tell us a bit about bus boy?

Bus Boy is a play about a boy who believes he is a bus when he rides his bike around Rotto. We live a day in the life of Bus Boy, when he meets Jerry, a young woman trying to reconcile with a past trauma experienced on Rottnest Island. It is a play about connection, betrayal and healing. It is a very personal story for me to tell, and I could not have felt more supported through the process thanks to the wonderful team behind it.


How are your plans shaping up for the touring of Bus Boy with the Award?

We are really excited about taking this show on tour next year. We hope to take our little show, about a little island off the coast of the world's most isolated city, all the way to Brighton Fringe. Brighton is a beach side tourist destination, we're hoping the tone and setting can translate there to an international audience.


how important is it for your work to be seen on a world stage?

For Rorschach Beast to have a production put up on the World Stage is huge for us. We are a young and emerging company that strives to tell stories about connection, transition and place. Bus Boy is a Perth, flag-waving show, not only does it show the dedication and hard work that young artists are putting out there in Perth, but it also shows the world how much our surroundings affect our art. It is a fantastic opportunity for all young creatives involved to springboard our careers on an international level, which we feel absolutely honoured to have the opportunity to do.


Has there been a particular show that has moved or inspired you?

The shows that inspire me are simple, small and beautiful. I think really big and expensive shows only work if they then take a microscope on the human experience and talk to me about something small, like peoples feelings and relationships. A show I saw recently that achieved this was, Lady Eats Apple by Back to Back Theatre. All of the performers inspired me with this work.


Aside from FRINGE WORLD, which has been the best Festival you have presented at?

In 2016, Rorschach Beast premiered with Girl in the Wood (written by Geordie Crawley). We were fortunate enough to receive both the WA Emerging Artist Award and the Melbourne Fringe Tour Ready Award. We took our scary kids show to Melbourne and had a fantastic time. Taking Bus Boy over to Brighton Fringe will surely be an extremely rewarding experience for the company and the creatives going.


What are you working on next?

Rorschach Beast has a show in the works that we hope to produce in 2018, written and directed by co-founder Geordie Crawley. Both Geordie and myself are currently part of Black Swan State Theatre Company's Emerging Writers Group being mentored by Jeffrey Jay Fowler, writing energetic pieces we hope to see produced in the future. I am also in collaboration with dancer/choreographer, Ellen Hope Thomson on a new work called All Fur Coat, No Knickers which explores movement and text, taking place in a cloak room. 


What’s your favourite thing about FRINGE WORLD?

My favourite thing about FRINGE WORLD is the artists and The Blue Room Theatre's Summer Nights. Having the opportunity to meet artists from all around the world, or just from other states is so exciting and can lead to exciting collaborations, or just really good times and dancing at the Artist bar! The Blue Room Theatre feels like the heart of it all though. It's where I always want to be.


What does it mean for you to be making work in WA?

Making art in WA is extremely important to me. I think it is an incredibly exciting time to be an emerging artist, it feels like a really strong community is being created by the next gen of artists who want to collaborate with each other and most importantly, encourage each other. It is fantastic to see people staying in Perth, people making work about WA and enriching the industry here. All of my work stems from home, and home will always be WA.


If you were an animal, what animal would you be?

I would be a lion. Big hair.