When a piece of art comes from the heart, we yearn to make it part of our story. For UNE Theatre Studies with Honours student Rosie Ochtman, dance has always been an important part of her creative expression, and as a practiced theatre performer, the chance to produce a piece of dance theatre as part of her studies was an exciting opportunity.

As part of her Honours studies Rosie is producing, directing and performing her own interpretation of the play 4.48 Psychosis – unlike the source material Rosie’s interpretation will be a piece of dance theatre.

The production will be playing from March 1st to 5th in the MC Showroom in Melbourne. Not only is this an independent production, but it will also be the creative practice for her Honours thesis. This exciting combination shows just how far Rosie has come through her career and study journey.

The story behind Rosie’s love for the stage begins long before she came to UNE. Rosie gave a glimpse of her humble beginnings when describing the path that led her to study in Armidale and the inspiration behind adapting a script into a piece of dance theatre.

“I started attending dance classes at the local dance studio when I was 4 and kept dancing until I left school to go to UNE,” said Rosie. “Performance has always been a massive part of my life, but I didn’t do any theatre until my best friend convinced me to do drama in year 11. I found that I really loved this type of performance, and decided that I wanted to make a career out of it. This brought me to study at UNE because of its theatre and performance course which was one of the most comprehensive and practical.”

Although coming to UNE meant that she focused more on performance than dance, her connection to her original passion never faded. “Dancing is really nostalgic for me,” Rosie explains, “and performing on stage is something that I absolutely love to do. So combining dance with theatre is basically a dream come true, it’s a kind of expression that can’t really be described and it’s such a unique experience to be performing in two different art forms.”

While describing her interpretation of 4.48 Psychosis and her upcoming production Rosie highlighted the inspiration behind choosing to adapt this particular piece. “It is the last script that Sarah Kane wrote before her suicide in 1999,” Rosie noted. “It has no characters or settings, and only one stage direction. The script is sporadically formatted with words overlapping and falling across the page. It is basically a look into the mind of someone suffering from mental illness and psychotic episodes.”

“I was inspired to produce this as a piece of dance theatre because I wanted to experiment with combining contemporary dance with theatre and 4.48 Psychosis is such a good script for this because of its open ended abstract nature. There is so much room for interpretation, and its emotional qualities can be really amplified by dance.”

While the production deals with very sensitive and mature elements, Rosie explains that its main themes are actually hope and love. She says that these themes are an important focus when showing the inner battle of mental illness.

Although Rosie has had some experience producing and directing, she says that she 4.48 Psychosis has “definitely been a learning curve”. Prior to this production she also directed and produced an abridged version of The Shape of Things in 2019, and assistant directed the 2019 UNE major production, Blackrock.

Part of the ‘learning curve’ of producing 4.48 Psychosis has been organising the production during COVID. Rosie called it the “strangest production process” as it has frequently involved backyard rehearsals and constant rescheduling. Despite this however the pandemic has had a silver lining for Rosie as the circumstances have given her some very unique insights to discuss in her Honours dissertation and has also allowed “the show time to develop much more than it originally would have had.”

As with all passionate creatives Rosie has several projects that will commence shortly after this production, one being a web series that is filming in the coming months, and she has also recently been accepted to train online with Rose Bruford College a UK acting institute.

If you are in Melbourne from March 1st to 5th, why not enjoy a thought provoking and engaging piece of theatre. You can book tickets for Rosie’s production of 4.48 Psychosis here.