[TINY STADIUMS: Interview] Bron Batten: Sweet Child Of Mine
TINY STADIUMS 2012
Sweet Child Of Mine
Bron Batten is currently in Mexico, eating tacos and getting sunburned. It’s a brief holiday for the busy Melbourne-based artist after a year that has so far included professional development residencies and skills training in improvisation, writing and physical theatre in Chicago and New York, including internships with The Neo-Futurists and Redmoon companies.
Next up she returns to Australia to bring her award-winning Melbourne Fringe show Sweet Child Of Mine to Tiny Stadiums. “It’s a hybrid theatre piece that explores perceptions of what artists do for a living,” Batten says of the show, which features herself and her 60-year-old parents, Jim and Linda, live on stage.
The inspiration for the show first struck Batten when she was asked to devise a performance interpretation of a segment of Nick Enright’s play Blackrock. “I got my parents to read my section of the script on video, and then screened that at the show. It was quite a violent part of text with a lot of bad language and they were so at odds with what they were reading – it was ridiculous. Yet they were so genuine and trying so hard, it somehow became this really sweet display of parental support… even though they were spouting the lines of teenaged rapists. They’re so intriguing, because they have no way of behaving that isn’t completely themselves – they’re much more interesting than me and I’ve been performing for 20 years! So I thought, I reckon there’s a whole show in this.”
Batten describes her dad, who used to be a taxi driver, as “outgoing and boisterous”. Her mum, she says, used to be a midwife and is “more quiet and reserved, but with a very dry sense of humour”. When they’re not performing in their daughter’s show, Mr and Mrs Batten run an antiques and second-hand furniture store in Sunbury, on the outskirts of Melbourne. Sweet Child Of Mine begins with video footage of Batten originally asking her parents to be in her theatre piece. “Dad is eager, but Mum’s much more suspicious!” she admits.
“I think [mum and dad] have much more of an idea about what I actually ‘do’ all day and how much work is involved in putting together a show,” says Batten of the show’s outcomes. “It has been very personally fulfilling too, as it has allowed me and my parents to develop our relationship with each other through the creation of art. This was part of the reason why I devised the work in the first place. [And] dad has particularly enjoyed being involved in the show and has spent the whole time since the Fringe last year Googling himself! And it’s given us something to do as a family I guess – in an odd way.”