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From couch to stage

How embracing authenticity and capturing creative spontaneity can fulfil unique potential.

Meet Libby Trainor Parker, a writer and arts venue director with a storied history of creating engaging shows and cabaret performances while raising awareness about various health issues affecting many Australians every year.

 

Libby’s path to the stage isn’t what people would consider ‘conventional’. After trying her hand as a stage performer and director in the early 2000s, garnering less than positive reviews, it was pure happenstance that Libby and her husband Matt created a show initially inspired by private jokes. Little did they know that this ‘flash in the pan’ moment would result in one of the most in-demand shows on the Fringe calendar.

“Following directing the David Williamson play Influence in 2013, I suffered a personal loss and had a long period of physical recovery where my husband Matt and I watched an enormous amount of television. Every time we binged a new show, we would make up funny, parody songs about it. No show was safe.”

These songs were initially regarded as throwaway banter, but this left Libby and Matt wondering, ‘could audiences find this funny?’

 

“Turns out they did, and in 2014, our cabaret ‘Boxset Blues’ got much better reviews than that other show I ruined 11 years prior. We realized cabaret was our bag, so we kept writing shows year after year, and the rest is history!”

Find the story you want to tell and tell us. That’s how all of us started. We all started with one story.

When deciding how performing measured up to creating and starring in her cabaret show, Libby says that being her authentic self is how she found her true calling:

“I always wanted to be a performer, but I was so bad at learning lines that I was too frightened to pursue it. I was so focused on getting those words right that I just couldn’t get a character to emerge. I’ve learned that the best stuff comes when I’m being genuine and authentic. When I am telling stories that truly mean something or when I’m being honest about the funny, beautiful, tragic, weird, or interesting things that have happened in my life, that’s when we create the best stuff that resonates with people.”

And it was this ability to embrace authenticity, and again spontaneity, that Libby (with the help of a friend over a glass of wine) decided to create a show that raised awareness of endometriosis, a condition close to Libby personally and one that affects many Australians.

“Me and my best mate Amy started singing silly parody songs about having endometriosis, a chronic, incurable pain condition affecting around 14% of Australian people who menstruate. It was the night that Fringe registrations were closing, and we were jolly enough to think it would be a great idea to register a one show season called Endo The Road for Fringe 2020.”

The show gained traction, selling out four seasons in a row, and gave Libby additional confidence to create shows like Extra Curricular a comedy cabaret about teaching and the education sector, which sold out its debut season in 2023 and is returning in 2024 And Libby’s new show Fashionably Late making its world premiere at Adelaide Fringe 2024.

Fashionably Late is about finding your voice and identity in life, no matter how long it takes. We were well into our 40s by the time we discovered our shtick, so we’ve made a show about how it’s never too late to be who you want to be, and we’re excited to be bringing it back for 2024!”

When reflecting on her journey, Libby says that her biggest inspirations are her husband, Matt, and her best friend Amy (or her "catalyst of chaos") for spurring her on to create a show that tackled an important cause. With the help of her band (Tina Donaldson and Dylby McCullough) and her mentors (Peta Spurling-Brown and Victoria Falconer), she gained the backing to continue producing shows.

Finally, for anyone looking to get into the industry or Fulfil their ‘Fringe’, Libby encourages people to have a go, be authentic, and make the most of the resources available to you.

“Attend all the workshops and sessions Fringe offers. And when you get on stage, tell your story from the heart, whether it’s theatre, comedy, acrobatics, sideshow, burlesque, or a children’s show. Find the story you want to tell and tell us. That’s how all of us started. We all started with one story.”

Libby runs Prompt Creative Centre, which is hosting various shows throughout the Fringe season.

Her show "Extracurricular" is playing at Prompt for the first two weeks of Fringe, with "Fashionably Late" at Gluttony on weekends and afternoons.

Book your tickets here: Adelaide Fringe.

If you’re wanting to Fulfil your Fringe and realise your unique potential, contact the Robert Walters team today: https://www.robertwalters.com.au/contact-us/australia/adelaide.html

 

Heather is CEO of Adelaide Fringe Festival, read how the partnership between Adelaide Fringe and Robert Walters has deepened over time.

 

Hear how Brianna from Robert Walters put Josh in a position to pursue his purpose: better lives for First Nations people.

 

Read how Rachael made the 1,300 kilometre move from Perth to Onslow, a coastal town with less than 1,000 residents, to take on a new role. 

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