Cora Bissett, Midsummer, La Boite

Music that moves me in the marrow of my bones ...

Cora Bisset has never had a day job. From studying English and rocking out in a band to attending drama school and finding her feet as an actress and director, the untraditional working week in an unpredictable environment is just the cup of tea Cora always dreamed of. As a child she would dress up, write scripts and invite the neighbours over for a backyard theatre performance. And not much has changed really, besides the tiny detail of her backyard now being substituted for the world stage. On her first trip to Australia, Glasgow-based Cora along with pal Matt Pidgeon deliver us Midsummer – the nerdy indie gig of musicals. Built around the two of them, disguising elements of their own lives amongst the fabric of the piece, Midsummer is a romantic comedy of an unconventional nature. As Cora returns to the part each tour, a new life experience has crossed her path, the role and the plot bringing life’s delicate issues to the forefront, forcing reflection in her personal life and those who experience the play. The Weekend Edition spoke to Cora during the Sydney leg of the Midsummer tour, about her busy, performance-filled weekends.

How do you like to start your weekend?
If I’m at home, depending on what I’m working on or doing, I like to start the weekend with a cold beer with mates at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre bar or maybe catch a show at The Arches club, then head out in town. If I’m on tour, I’m on stage until about 10:00 pm, then the team and I will go and find a local nearby.

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Saturday morning?
Take it easy … scrambled eggs and salmon, a big mug of tea, read the papers, potter around, cycle into town, catch up with friends, chat, browse the galleries.

How do you like to unwind?
Relaxing on the sofa at home with my favourite food, a glass of wine and a good box set or nature program – watching animals do crazy shit is unbelievably relaxing.

What are your essentials for a well-spent weekend?
Big hearty belly laughs with mates – laughter being the best tonic for everything … I’m not satisfied until I am on on the floor in tears! This actually occurs frequently; I have very funny friends.

What’s something you’ve been meaning to do on the weekend but haven’t got around to yet?
Climb big hills on a regular basis. Glasgow is only a half-hour drive from the most stunning west coast lochs and hills. Whenever I do make it out, I adore it, but would like to make it a regular feature. Also surfing … you may laugh, but we get huge amounts of surfers travelling to Scotland. You just have to wear a pretty thick wetsuit!

What’s your favourite thing to do on a Sunday evening?
Catch a film at The Glasgow Film Theatre, which does great art-house international movies. That or see a band in town – Glasgow has an incredible music scene.

What are you looking forward to next weekend?
Having my day off in Wollongong. I’ll probably go out with the team for a nice meal.

What are you reading at the moment?
Cloud Street by Tim Winton – a gift from the AD at Merrygong Theatre. I’m loving it.

What inspires you?
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people fighting for the rights of others, people overcoming enormous hurdles in the name of justice and dignity. Music that moves me in the marrow of my bones. All kinds of art and nature. Animals doing what comes naturally to them, incredibly complex feats of survivalism against all odds, strange quirky complexities of mating rituals – have you seen those little birds decorating their nests with flowers, shiny beetles and the odd paperclip to attract a mate? Mind-blowing!

What was your childhood dream?
Believe or not, to make theatre. I used to put on these little shows on the front lawn, rope in all the local kids, erect a little set of curtains, get my sisters to build sets and give out drinks at half-time … nothing’s changed much, I just don’t get a row from my mum for using swear words these days.

What has been your greatest achievement?
The play I co-created and directed called RoadKill, based on a true life story of a young girl sex-trafficked from Africa to Scotland. It won every major award at The Edinburgh Fringe in 2010. I am most proud of it winning the Amnesty International Award for Freedom of Expression. It has just been nominated in the Olivier Awards in the UK, which is also very lovely.

What is success to you?
Fulfilling your potential to the best of your ability. Surprising yourself. Using your time and gifts on this Earth to bring inspiration and pleasure to others. Growing to be the best person you can be, in terms of loving, giving, understanding and helping others.Respect from peers. Being a friend whom people can rely on.


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