FRINGE FIVE: Camille Lucy Ross, Dublin Fringe Award judge
person by Bradley
CAMILLE LUCY ROSS – actor, writer and artistic director of Brazen Tales Productions is a previous First Fortnight Fringe Award winner (our annual award for an outstanding festival production with mental health-related themes). This year, she’s back as a judge for the Dublin Fringe festival, currently running in several venues until September 23.
EMMA MATTHEWS asked Camille a swift #FiveOnFriday covering the Fringe, her top tunes and the benefits of wild, sweaty dancing…
Q1. Big Bobby Little Bobby was the winner of the First Fortnight Award at the Fringe in 2015, and last year you took part in the festival with How to be Angry. How does it feel to be back this year as a judge?
It’s great! Even when I’m involved in the Fringe I try to cram in as many shows as possible – it’s one of my favourite pastimes – so I’m delighted to be a judge. I’ve worked on around ten Fringe shows as a performer, writer and producer so I think I’ve a good idea of how much blood, sweat and tears is involved! It’s also an interesting challenge to try and assess them all objectively.
Q2. What did winning the First Fortnight Award award mean to you?
It was a big surprise and I was incredibly proud to receive it. Kelly (Shatter, co-writer) and I didn’t set out to write a play about mental health and I’m glad we didn’t – otherwise I probably would have got very preachy! We wanted to write something truthful and funny about dealing with a harsh inner critic and it also touch on issues of addiction and social anxiety – lots of people seemed to relate to it so we were thrilled by that.
Q3. How import is art in challenging the stigma and prejudices in areas such as mental health?
I think art and mental health are intrinsically linked because art helps us explore issues we find hard to understand. There is so much we don’t know about mental health and creative expression allows us to articulate ideas in a more intuitive way. I think it’s healing for us to see our experiences portrayed, we feel less alone and it encourages conversation. We may not always find clear cut answers but I think art helps us to be more comfortable with uncertainty. I particularly like adding humour into the mix as it opens up conversations. When people stigmatise issues it comes from their fear of the unknown and I think there’s great healing in laughing at our fears and acknowledging our ignorance…it takes some of the tension out of it. Art also encourages us to be curious and empathetic which are essential elements for a healthy mind.
Q4. Can you share any small (or big!) things that you use to look after your own mental/emotional health?
I spent a few years going to therapy and it’s the thing I’m most proud of doing. It was a huge commitment and hard work at times but it’s given me a solid foundation for understanding and caring for myself. Lately if I’m having a difficult day or week I find simple things can lift my mood or give me energy – like doing some free writing or decluttering my house. Wild, sweaty dancing is probably my favourite cure – I just need to do it more often!
Q 5. Can you tell us 3 tunes you go to when you need an emotional pick-me-up?