Artist of The Month- September- Lymari Alberts

Our artist of the month is South African-born Lymari Alberts. Her most recent project, Mooi Annie, was incredibly well received among the South African community, and she can't wait to share more of her native culture in Hong Kong. She thrilled to chat with us, and she shared many of her views and ideas. Warning: this interview contains a high dose of contagious enthusiasm!




Name, Birthplace, age: 

Lymari Alberts, South Africa, 26.


How does where you were raised affect your work?

I grew up in Bloemfontein, right in the centre of South Africa. I don't come from a theatre-going family background, and when I was young, I was mostly exposed to Afrikaans farce (a genre that unfortunately survived the 80's) and post-Apartheid protest theatre (which taught me a great deal of Grotowski's poor theatre and minimalism techniques which I still value today.)


I soon discovered that South Africa has got some amazingly clever contemporary theatre makers.  For instance Handspring Puppet Company, musicals of international standards (such as Priscilla Queen of the desert coming to Hong Kong), to the genius of Fringe and small collectives.  All of these influenced me a great deal.  That being said, it seemed like the realm of a privileged few so creating my own work was paramount.  South Africa's unemployment rate, especially in the arts is no surprise.  It is tough to get funding for projects, which means you are forced to use your creativity to create high standard art with minimal resources.  However, In the process of establishing my work, I quickly learned that these few are only in a privileged position because they worked their asses off. 



Theatre in my environment has never been the only influence. I've always been attracted to fine art.  Illustrators, photographers, and sculptors, equally amused me, and I figured, yeah, I want to do that too. I crashed a few gallery openings, made some artist friends and ingrained myself with that sort of "we are very smart, but can't afford good wine" crowd. To this day, they are still my favourite crowd.  I learnt a lot from them, so now I paint and sculpt, just on stage, and I developed a taste for any wine!


Where did you train?

I graduated from the University of the Free State, Drama and Theatre Arts.  


What is your favourite style of theatre? 

I can appreciate brilliance in any genre. To create, I would say Experimental Theatre. But to appreciate and watch, definitely the physical one.



On the subject of experimental theatre, I have to be very honest. It took me a few years to realize that theatre is not for my own gratification. I thought it was ingenious to use methods out of the 60's to shock a 21st-century audience.  It was all about the "art." 

But art isn't something you force down someone's ear. It's sharing an idea or a viewpoint or a profound moment in the artist's life, so we should consider ourselves thankful if a banker from Central walks by something you made, and it changes something in them, even if it is tiny.  And for me to reach that goal, is an experimental process.  I always ask, if it doesn't give something to the audience, then why do it?  The audience is not a guinea pig.


What was the best show you EVER saw?


We Didn't Come to Hell For the Croissants, hands down. It's a simple concept executed brilliantly.  The play reworks the clichéd seven deadly sins with seven short stories written by seven writers, and it's hilarious.  


What was the best show in HK you EVER saw?
All Genius All Idiot, Clockenflap 2016.  I loved how they expertly used circus and physical theatre to show the animalistic nature of man.


What piece of work are you the proudest?

Although I'm not part of the creation of this production, I'm very proud of Lungs. So far it's my biggest producer venture and for me a personal achievement.  Lungs by Duncan Macmillan, directed by JP du Plessis, won the award for Best Upcoming Talent at the Free State National Arts Festival in 2016.  It was one of the best productions I've ever seen, and now I am in a position where I can bring the production to Hong Kong. It'll be staged in November, so buy tickets.


What is your process like?

I always visualize an image I want to create on stage. I daydream and save all these ideas and hope the universe will let me hold on to them for yet another day.  When I read a script, I have a vast pool of ideas I'm dying to try out.  

I've also learned a precious lesson: never force theatre.  If I read a script and it doesn't grab hold of me, shake me and become something I obsess about, then f$#@ it.  It's not worth it, and it's not going to work (well enough for someone else who's paying to watch.)




What is your dream project?

I'm toying with the idea of virtual reality theatre, but I'm not giving away all my secrets yet (that's also in the hands of the universe).


What do you think about the arts and theatre scene in Hong Kong?

What excites me the most is all the different theatrical backgrounds and cultures.  Like Hong Kong itself, the theatre scene is a melting pot to take world festivals by storm, I can imagine.  Cross-culture excites me very much, and it's only a matter of collaboration and finding like-minded creators. I don't believe "conflict of interest" is a thing.  I believe that all theatre makers are working towards the same goal: creating a theatre culture within the greater community.  And I'm very excited to be a part of it! 




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