Charli Burrowes, the writer, co-producer, and performer of the stage show “Bloom Girl,” sat down with Bravo Brisbane to discuss her background in the arts and entertainment industry, the inspiration behind “Bloom Girl,” and her collaboration with director Elise Lamb.
Burrowes, who has been documenting her creative journey through a blog for the past 10 years, explains how her background in visual arts and film influenced the creation of “Bloom Girl.” She also shares how her collaboration with Lamb elevated the show and brought her vision to life on the stage. Get to know Charli and the behind-the-scenes of “Bloom Girl” in this exclusive interview.
Can you tell us about your background and how you became involved in the arts and entertainment industry?
I’m an artist, director and writer based in Brisbane, Australia. MeOhMy started as a blog, documenting my creative journey. It’s since evolved into a place where I share my short films + art.
I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, and in that time I’ve been lucky enough to have several solo gallery shows, and directed shoots for Universal Music, HBO, Disney and Warner Bros. It’s been a pretty unique creative path, but I absolutely love it. Bloom Girl is my first stage show.
How did the concept for “Bloom Girl” come about and what inspired you to write and perform in the production?
BG came about after a very funny little heartbreak I went through a while ago. I met a ‘sweep me off your feet’ kinda charmer, who was living with one of the biggest influencers in Australia, who was also an artist. I went a bit mental comparing myself to her as another potential romantic interest for this dude. At one point, I snapped out of it and went ‘this is a bit mad, I’m comparing myself to someone with a million followers and an Armani contract. What the hell am I doing?’ And I thought, oh actually, something pretty normal (and very human). My mates were doubled over laughing every time I went on some IG spiral, and I went ‘hold up, there’s a good story in this.’
After 10 years telling stories online, I wanted to share this one with people in real life. I really believe in the power of community and I think art is at its best when it’s a communal experience.
How does your background in visual arts and film influence your approach to writing and performing in “Bloom Girl”?
I think it definitely helped me create the visual world of BG in a big way. I always knew I wanted it to feel like a cross between the ‘showmanship’ of Broadway or Hollywood, and the internet. The neon concept for the stage was the first thing I wrote down when I started penning the script. I just remember writing down the ‘seen’ scene first and imagining having a heap of neons pinging on and off like notifications. It felt like the perfect visual vehicle to communicate this idea of ‘performing online’ and this performative behaviour we’re often encouraged to engage with. Having such a solid background in visual arts leant itself to creating the world of BG with a very unified and unique aesthetic, and 10 years in the industry across film / art meant I could pull together something that looked high-end on a lower budget. That helped a heap!
In terms of how I approached writing the show, it’s literally written so that it feels like a scroll through an IG feed – with new information, characters and stories cycling through as quickly as you would on an app. I’m very conscious of our increasingly shorter attention spans, so I wanted something that both poked fun at that and also challenged it. Balancing ‘how much is too much?’ was the greatest struggle during the writing process.
I approached the whole thing like one big Rubik’s cube. I’m constantly tightening the script. I was adding and dropping lines right up until opening night. People should feel like they’re watching anxiety on stage when they come to see it. I want people’s heads to swing back and forth between characters, moments and notifications at all times like a high-key neon tennis match. If they aren’t on the edge of their seats the entire time, I haven’t done my job right!
Can you talk about your collaboration with director Elise Lamb and the creative process behind the show’s design and visuals?
Elise started off as our dramaturg on this project, but somewhere along the way I went ‘f*ck, this thing is huge’ and asked if she’d step up and direct. Coming from working on huge stages in West End in London, she’s brought a wealth of stage, tech, lighting and performance experience to the show that I think has elevated the entire thing ten-fold. I always had a very clear vision for how I wanted it to feel and look, but coming from a film background meant I was really lacking in making those ideas clear on the stage. I basically said to her, ‘I have this story, and I have this neon idea, help me!’
Elise has injected a heap of beautiful stagecraft and characterisation into the show, and she’s really pushed me as a performer, training me up to bring out the best out of me. It has made what I’m trying to say so much clearer (and much more fun!) to follow.
How does the character of @bloomgirl and her digital meltdown reflect your own experiences and perspectives?
The show’s very much inspired by my own experiences as an artist online. It’s the culmination of everything I’ve written online and 10 years of floating in and out of influencer vs artist circles, as well as poking fun at and reflecting my own behaviour in the digital space.
What do you hope audiences will take away from their experience with “Bloom Girl”?
How important it is to be yourself.
Don’t miss out! Catch Charli Burrowes performing in Bloom Girl until 11 February at the Thomas Dixon Centre – Buy tickets now!