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2019 Emerging Critic Aridhi Anderson – Menteeship

From March to May, Team Aisle welcomed our first mentee – Aridhi Anderson. 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. Aridhi was the first, followed by Reagan Maiquez later in the year.

Over 3 months Carla and Aridhi saw approx. 14 shows together (and apart) and discussed many more.

What has the experience meant to you?

Aridhi Anderson

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.

Carla Donnelly

Aridhi 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, Aridhi 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 Aridhi 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 Aridhi’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. Aridhi’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 Aridhi, and it solidified my feeling that theatre people are some of the smartest, most kind, and wonderful around.

2019 Emerging Critic Aridhi Anderson

Introducing our first emerging critic mentee for 2019, Aridhi Anderson. Welcome Aridhi – Team Aisle are so excited to have you on board. Aridhi will be with us for three months, attending many shows and discussing them with the team.

Aridhi is a theatremaker who has been writing, directing and performing in New Delhi since 2007 and in Melbourne since 2016. Her original works include The Bet, Ophelia’s Inner Monologue, Jezebel, Parenthesis, and The Next Logical Step, among others. She runs an independent theatre group called The Day Dream in New Delhi and Melbourne, and is passionate about promoting authenticity, diversity, inclusiveness, and a sense of community through her work.

What do you hope to get out of the menteeship? 

Aridhi Anderson

I’ve been in love with theatre and theatremaking for years. Last year I began my practice of writing about other artists’ work (through reviewing for WeekendNotes), which has been extremely rewarding. I love engaging with theatre as an audience member, and I see reviewing as an important way to help bridge the gap between theatremakers and audiences. I’m a little bit intrigued by the lack of diversity (in who’s making shows, who’s in the audience, and who’s writing about it) in Melbourne – and I was drawn to Across the Aisle’s commitment to addressing this. Over the next three months I’m looking forward to observing and listening a lot, learning more about arts criticism, refining my own work, discovering and working on my blind spots, and exploring/furthering conversations about diversity and inclusiveness in the arts in Melbourne. 

Team Aisle

For Across the Aisle we are thrilled to learn as much as we can about Aridhi’s practice in New Dehli, and the New Delhi performing arts scene in general. At the end of the 3 month menteeship both Team Aisle and Aridhi will publish their thoughts about this mutual learning experience.