Orana Artist: Jayden Muir

Jayden Muir is an emerging artist currently based in Sydney, but with roots firmly in the Mudgee region. She is balancing her professional training with auditions and workshops whilst also writing and creating her own work. She has just finished the first season run of her own show (All Stations To Social Disconnection) as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. She is currently in rehearsal for a production to be performed this month as part of her graduating showcase. We caught up with Jayden between rehearsals to find out how her Fringe show went, what she learnt, and if she really does believe that other young regional creatives should apply for a Create NSW Young Regional Artist Scholarship (hint: YES).

Firstly, have you always had an interest in theatre? When did you start performing and creating your own shows? How did your play All Stations to Disconnection come about?

I really only started getting interested in acting and theatre when I was about 16. I decided to take up HSC drama when I was in high school as I was very interested in the design elements of theatre and originally had a passion for costume design. I very quickly fell in love with acting and performing though and funnily enough decided to choose acting as my drama major instead of design. I started getting involved with local community art groups and performing in shows.
In 2015 I decided to audition for acting school and was successful in gaining a place at Sydney Theatre School (STS). From here I started training full time in acting and along the way started gaining more and more skills and knowledge about the craft of performing and theatre making and soon started to understand the importance of making work and putting yourself out there in a very competitive industry! Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was such an eye-opener seeing how many people are creating work and putting on shows.
Coming back from that I was inspired to create my own show and Fringe is such a great way to get your show on. All Stations to Social Disconnection came to me one day when I was on the train. I am a bit of a people watcher and I would notice how different people would interact on the train and how being compressed in such a small social setting made people automatically divert to technology as an escape. From here I started observing more and more what people did and eventually wrote All Stations To Social Disconnection.

All Stations to Social Disconnection recently had a successful run as part of the Sydney Fringe. Can you tell us about the experience of putting this show together; the challenges, the joys, the things you’ve learnt? 

It has been such an amazing and very challenging experience. Writing, producing and acting in a show whilst balancing my final year of acting school definitely came with a lot of sleepless nights and I can't lie and say there weren't times when it felt like it was all too much. However, the pay-off and excitement of it all was worth it. Early stages of creating this show started with finding amazing artists and theatre makers who were passionate about creating work and bringing this piece to life. I was blessed with an awesome cast and amazing director and we did a lot of script development to adjust to each specific actor and a lot of improvisation around the main ideas in the script in order to bring it to life. I learnt it's important to find other artists with the same passion as you, otherwise the work dies. I met so many amazing people during Fringe and have made some great contacts. I learnt how important networking is in this industry. I'm also so amazed by the amount of support that is out there for young artists like myself. 

With taking on multiple roles I also learnt to stay extremely organised! and quickly leant I have a slight coffee addiction. Caffeine played a big part in those days in which I would have to balance starting school at 8.30am then having to head straight to rehearsal after school at 6pm and then keep going until 9.30 at night. Those days were definitely the most taxing! In the end it was all worth it. Im so grateful for how many people came and saw this show. With close to a full house nearly every night I am more then ecstatic about the success of my first show.

As a recipient of Create NSW’s Young Regional Artist Scholarship you were able to take up a mentorship opportunity. How have you changed over this process? 

I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for this scholarship! I was able to get the best resources to create my own work, something which is just so important as an actor. It's opportunities like this that support young developing artists like myself. I was able to take up a mentorship with actor and writer Alan Flower. From day one Alan took me step by step through the process of creating my own work. From early meetings about script development all the way through to closing night, I was able to learn the ins and outs of creating work and getting it off the page. It was so great having a professional to guide me along a process which was quite daunting. I definitely feel that I have come a long way and am confident in being able to create more work. 

Would you recommend that other young regional creatives apply for the scholarship? 

Yes, yes and yes! I am so honoured to have received this scholarship. There are so many oppounities available with this funding. I decided to pursue creating my own work, which not only meant I was able to fund my work, but also mentored through the process as well as attend producer workshops. However, it can be used for nearly anything to help you boost your developing career. I am very proud to come from a regional area and I think it's important that we continue to support young artists from regional areas. While I live in Sydney at the moment for studies, the country will always be my home – plus I have some exciting plans on the horizon for my region which wouldn't be possible without with scholarship! Through this scholarship I will also be attending a two-day professional development program in Sydney where I will attend workshops and network with professionals in my field. I couldn't recommend applying for this scholarship enough!

And what advice would you give them about the seemingly daunting application process?

Leave yourself plenty of time to get it done! It took me months to finish my application. Taking it easy will help you manage and will make it seem less scary. It's a big task applying for a grant and it requires a lot of extra material and coordinating with other people. However, Create NSW were so supportive and were always happy to answer any questions I had. My number one advice would be to just really take it slow, don't rush the process at all and just go for it! If you feel confident and passionate about your art there's no reason why you shouldn't apply. It's not as scary as it seems once you get started.

What’s next for Jayden Muir – will we be seeing All Stations to Social Disconnection or another production in the Orana region soon? 

I am super excited to be running a workshop series in the Orana region this December. I will be graduating from my three year training at STS in November and then my focus will be on this tour. The money made through ticket sales from Fringe will go to funding workshops around the region. I'm so grateful for the arts in my region and I can't wait to come back. Workshops topics will include physical theatre, theatre-making and devising workshops, using excerpts from the All Stations script and also a Q+A on producing work for festivals such as Fringe. I'm very keen to pass on the knowledge I gained during this process to youth theatres in the area. There are lots of details to finalise before I head back but I will be sure to keep everyone updated!