Interview | Laura Money
Sun-Mi Clyburn is the creator and performer of the remarkable work Audiotherapy playing at FRINGEWORLD 2019. We caught up with her ahead of the show to find out what it’s all about.
Your show is all about how to use music as therapy, how did you come up with this concept?
I wouldn’t say that the show is about using music as therapy. It’s a story of mental illness delivered through storytelling and music, which is a format I really enjoy performing. But it’s true that music is healing for the soul and a universal language that allows us to communicate emotion in a deeper way compared to most other art forms.
Is creating music more important to you than listening to it?
Actually it’s more important for me to interact and become part of the music, mostly through singing or dancing. I rarely ever experience music passively. I’m the type of person that will randomly sing or dance around the house, on the street, in the shops or the gym. I’m still mindful not to be disruptive to people around me, but I don’t care if anyone’s watching.
How does music help with mental health?
Music has the power to instantly shift emotions or heighten the ones you are already experiencing. I find there are some songs that lift my mood no matter what state I’m in. Some, because they are naturally happy songs, others, because they are linked to happy memories.
You mention that you have made some changes, how did they come about and how has the show improved?
The main difference is definitely the band. I was lucky enough to get six brilliant musicians on board and each of them adds a different flavour to the stage. The live music is an essential part of Audiotherapy and I would refuse to do this show with backing tracks. Besides that I have changed a lot in the script and added subjects I didn’t touch on last year, including self harm and the impact mental illness has on intimate relationships.
How do you prepare before a show? Any pre-show rituals?
Vocal warm ups and full body stretches are a must. Most people don’t realise this, but when you sing, your whole body is your instrument and tightness or tension in other parts of your body will impact your voice. Also, I’ll drink a warm beverage, usually chamomile tea or lemon and honey. A couple of drops of propolis is also soothing for the throat. And then have a few laughs and a group hug with my crew backstage.
What’s it like performing at His Majesty’s Theatre?
It has been absolutely amazing; I am so in love with this venue and all the crew are very professional. It was actually the only Fringe World venue I felt could house the production I wanted to create. The space on stage is perfect for the band and it’s an intimate setting, which was very important for the nature of the show. I’m also so grateful for the crew of ACE Cabaret who runs the show Downstairs at the Maj for Fringe World: David and Neville were very supportive leading up to the show and Des and Adelaide keep us sane and on time night after night.
Why is it important to put this show on in FRINGEWORLD 2019?
We could perform Audiotherapy at any other point, but I just love this time of year. Fringe is when Perth comes to life and art is celebrated. People are more likely to take a chance on something they’ve never seen before. Plus there is something unique, chaotic and fun about performing in Fringe World and I thrive on that.
What do you think audiences will get out of the show?
I believe people will leave with a better understanding of mental illness and the courage to speak openly and honestly about it. There is also a good chance that they will cry. I want Audiotherapy to be a safe space for people to experience uncomfortable emotions that they might avoid in everyday life. And I want people to feel that they are not alone.