From March to May, Team Aisle welcomed our first mentee – Jaya Berged. At the beginning of the year we advertised a menteeship program open to non-European background emerging critics. We believe strongly in diversifying (and multiplying) the critical voices in Melbourne. Team Aisle intended to only do one menteeship, however we had two extremely strong candidates, so strong we couldn’t decide. Jaya was the first, followed by Reagan Maiquez later in the year.
Over 3 months Carla and Jaya saw approx. 14 shows together (and apart) and discussed many more.
What has the experience meant to you?
The three month menteeship with Across the Aisle was an interesting and constructive experience. Carla and I attended a number of shows together, and also discussed other shows that we both watched on different nights. Our conversations gave me a lot of insight into my own reviewing practice, and helped me refine my understanding of my own goals and values as a reviewer. I found it useful to connect with Carla consistently over a period of time, and get a sense of how she engages with shows and forms her opinions on different works. I was intrigued by how we had a very similar experience of some shows, and a very different experience of others. When we were in agreement, I found we were able to discuss some aspects of the shows in greater detail. When we held different opinions, I found myself challenged to think more broadly and try to see things from a wider perspective than I’d naturally be inclined to consider. I also found it enriching to have conversations about the theatre/arts scene in Melbourne in general, and I felt myself feeling more connected to it as a result of the menteeship. Even though this menteeship has ended, the thoughts and ideas we discussed over the course of it are still developing within my mind, so in that sense the work of learning from this menteeship continues for me. I’m grateful to have had this experience and look forward to seeing the continued impact of it in my future work.
Jaya is a gifted reviewer and emerging critic. Her hunger and desire for the performing arts is something that I really connected with. As a new-ish migrant to Melbourne (2016) and theatre maker, Jaya wanted to learn as much as she could about the local scene – what is popular, what gets staged, what are the current themes etc. Connecting with Jaya and her boundless curiosity really invigorated the way I see theatre. I confess I had come into a bit of a humdrum place, seeing too many shows in a short period of time can really burn you out. But having Jaya’s insightful questions to ponder shook me out of my myopia. I don’t often get to connect with other critics so this experience was invaluable to me. Having someone to really chew over the shows, deep dive, explore and laugh with has been a joyful experience. Jaya’s perspective as a theatre maker helped me see works in much different ways. I wasn’t quite sure how this menteeship would go, it is the first time I have done something like this, but it could not have gone better. I feel I have made a friend in Jaya, and it solidified my feeling that theatre people are some of the smartest, most kind, and wonderful around.