The new hand on the helm of Auckland’s Silo Theatre is promising to continue the company’s course as an innovative leader of the city’s contemporary arts scene.
Chloe Weavers, who took over as Silo’s executive director at the end of October, declares herself as “very much values-based in the way that I work.
“Silo has this incredible track record of really supporting bold and innovative ideas and so that’s something that is very exciting to me and something that I'm absolutely wanting to honour and continue.”
Weavers told The Big Idea it’s important that the works Silo showcases are reflective of the community they have come from.
“I'm really interested in supporting work and practitioners and stories that come from Aotearoa. Silo has worked in this commissioning space, supporting artists doing that and that's something that Sophie [artistic director Sophie Roberts] and I are really interested in continuing.”
Of Ngāpuhi descent and armed with a Masters degrees from the University of Auckland, Weavers forged a 10-year career in arts production in Australia, working with Arts Centre Melbourne, Abbotsford Convent, Next Wave, the Midsumma Festival, Patch Theatre, Performing Lines, Wurundjeri Council, Asia TOPA and Alter State.
Weavers explains that her background is in working with artists that have “bold, wild ambitions and out-of-the-box ideas.”
Chloe Weavers, part of Psychoacoustics for the opening ceremony of L Hermosilla_s Because Magic exhibition, Westspace Gallery, Melbourne. Photo: Andrew Theodore Johnson.
Her Melbourne work also included a lot of community engagement and consultation.
Is it then about empowering voices that might not otherwise be heard?
“Certainly that’s an important value or driving principle of mine, as part of the way that Silo operates.”
Returning to Tāmaki Makaurau in mid-2020 and now living with her partner in Grey Lynn – the suburb she grew up in – Weavers had a stint with Waitakere’s Kaupapa Māori-based Te Pou Theatre before taking up the Silo role.
Coming into the job at a time when the entire arts community struggles to negotiate the ever-changing pandemic, Weavers says it is “a weird space to be in.”
She adds “it feels like we're in this kind of state of limbo where we are just waiting to see if what we're seeing now in Australia, is what's going to face us.”
Like others, Silo found a partial solution to the pandemic in taking productions online.
That included the well-received Break Bread, originally commissioned by Silo as a live production but reimagined and reworked under lockdown.
Weavers says the Break Bread team did an absolutely incredible job because not only was the development period all in lockdown, the entire making process was done remotely, adhering to the restrictions at the time.
The performers were directed by Zoom, uploading their footage at the end of each day.
“Their flatmates were also kind of diving in to support them as well. So in terms of a production perspective, and logistically, we were really forging entirely new territory,” she says.
The piece was then made available to ticket buyers to log into and stream to their own devices, from the Silo website.
Weavers says one of the great things about the process was the cross-collaboration, skill-building and knowledge-sharing it enabled with practitioners outside usual live performance, such as filmmakers.
But while online production has its appeal - “you can have this national and global audience, which is just really exciting” – Weavers says the magic of life performance and being able to gather in a shared space and in a shared moment “is something that we’re really hoping that we will be able to do.”
Chloe Weavers in conversation. Photo: Supplied.
With fingers crossed, Silo has a full season of live performances planned for 2022, starting with Night of the Living Dead, another COVID casualty rescheduled three times already. It is currently due to run 17-26 March at the Hollywood, Avondale, in conjunction with the Auckland Arts Festival.
Two works critically acclaimed at their London premieres, Jasmine Lee-Jones’ seven methods of killing kylie jenner and Ella Hickson’s The Writer, will follow in June and September respectively.
The world Premiere of The First Prime-Time Asian Sitcom by local talent Nahyeon Lee will round out the year in November, to be presented in collaboration with Q Theatre and with support from The Asia New Zealand Foundation.
Weavers says the country is in a period of adjustment with Omicron in the community but she is optimistic for the live season to go ahead.
While Silo has no performance space of its own, Weavers says it enjoys a lot of flexibility to partner with venues and present work “in spaces that serve the work” across Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa and potentially internationally.
“We work closely with our venue partners to make sure that if and when we are able to stage those, we will do so in a very safe way.”
Chloe Weavers. Photo: Supplied,
Weavers succeeded Jessica Smith, who had led the company for more than 11 years.
Announcing her appointment, Silo Chair Rick Carlyon said Weavers brought strong governance and leadership skills, as well as having led and produced theatre, festivals, arts and community events across Australasia.
"Chloe is set to extend Jess's foundation by bringing a strong te ao Māori focus to our work here at Silo and her experience demonstrates she can work across many cultures, including Moana Oceania and migrant communities."
Weavers says she is excited to collaborate with the arts community of Tāmaki Makaurau and Aotearoa: "I am really energised to carry on the mahi paved by Jess and I feel privileged to work with the incredible team at Silo and alongside Sophie as we deliver bold and ambitious projects that reach audiences across the motu in new and unexpected ways."
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