Full ‘STEAM’ ahead for Potential Kinetics Theatre

Award-winning South Australian interdisciplinary theatre company Potential Kinetics Theatre premiered their new show Isolate & Izolál at Holden Street Theatres for the Adelaide Fringe on Saturday 2 March. The show deals with STEM concepts, a buzzword in education used to group the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Petra Szabo prefers the acronym STEAM which includes the arts.

Petra Szabo | photo by Sarah Jean Creative

Szabo, managing director and artist of Potential Kinetics Theatre, is proud to be presenting their fourth work since launching the company in 2016.

Potential Kinetics Theatre co-founders Szabo and Cameron James are highly passionate about science, design, and technology. The company has fostered relationships with innovators and South Australian thought leaders in these industries, namely scientists Dr. Fiona Kerr and Dr. Mandy Archibald, and companies such as Voxon Photonics (Holographic technologies).

“We are really excited to create a work with such current themes to our world today, collaborating with such a stellar creative team, including musician/actor Delia Olam, writer/actor Cameron James, and lighting designer Mark Oakley.”

– Petra Szabo


As an artist and managing director of a theatre company, what are your views on STEM in the Australian curriculum?

STEM (or STEAM as I like to refer to it) is a wonderful initiative within the Australian education system. It is very important in preparing future generations for the realities of the next development within the workforce – the technology revolution, that is currently unfolding in our societies.

The workforce is starting to change in the way it looks and functions. It will be important to have multiple skills and the ability to collaborate even more intensely with individuals and organisations from differing industries, and to come up with ways to make innovative decisions for really important matters within society.

These decisions will be made within the health sector, education system, the performing arts, city development, environmental preservation and engineering alike. It will be important to think collaboratively, creatively and critically all at once, while maintaining impeccable people skills in leadership and group work.

This is what we would like to prepare students for, through [highlighting] the important innovative ideas of the scientists, technologists and designers who are reshaping our society about pressing topics like artificial intelligence, space and Mars, the internet and creating healthy workplaces.

We do this through play, performing arts, and simplifying the big ideas into a context where [students] can freely connect with the ideas and slowly start to think about how they might join the conversation and make a difference in their lifetime, too.

Petra Szabo | Photo by Oliver Toth

In what ways is Potential Kinetics Theatre bridging the gap between science, technology, the arts, and the general public?

Our motto is that we ‘create human experiences from data’ and this task is very important to us as we have become a data-filled society. Nothing is truly founded in science, for example, without a proper peer review of many experiments that have stated a certain truth. However, the general public is not always convinced by data and facts.

The general public is often convinced by human stories, simply presented and emotionally-inspired stories. This is where the arts come into play. This is where we come into play with our self-devised theatre performances and arts experiences, which are always grounded in peer-reviewed data.

During the four years of managing your company, what challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The first obvious first response is making sure we can fund each project and deliver a professional performance with less time and a smaller budget than the bigger companies receive for their projects. However, this is only a surface issue.

We have found many creative ways to ensure we can fund our work and deliver high standard and award-winning productions from crowd-funding, fundraiser events, government grants, industry cross-pollination, and commissions. Other than that, everything else has just been an ongoing learning curve: learning to manage budgets and finances, production skills, talking to media, creating marketing campaigns, and having energy left over for being creative are in the end just part of working hard until we are able to hand these roles over to professionals.

It hasn’t been easy doing all these roles at once, but we have definitely grown as people and artists in the process. We feel much more aware about how the industry works and we know that what we have created is ours, so we are pretty proud of our efforts!

Isolate & Izolál is at Holden Street Theatres, 34 Holden Street Hindmarsh between 2 – 9 March 2019.

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