Nancy Denis in Residence

A report by Matthew Graham.

Nancy Denis is back at Urban Theatre Projects (UTP) this month to develop her work on residency as part of our year-long Young Residents Program at Bankstown Arts Centre. Denis began developing this work in April and is basing the content of this project around her own cultural knowledge and experience. The work is largely based on the phrase ‘M’ap Boule’, which translated to English means ‘I’m on fire’ in Krèole. Denis will use this residency period to work further on this project based on a subject matter she holds close to her heart.

Nancy Denis is back at Urban Theatre Projects developing her residency work in Bankstown, NSW. (Photo: Matthew Graham)

Working with musician and collaborator Carl St. Jacques, Denis will use the power of music and language to create a captivating performance. Denis says being part of the Young Residents Program has given her the chance to express her thoughts and emotions, with freedom to tell her story the way she wants it to be told, using her own flavour.

Benjamin Law gave it a really good descriptor. He was like ‘It’s a Haitian-Australian queer political cabaret’,” Denis said of her work.

From the original showing of the work back in April, Denis says she has worked to improve on the performance, whilst also building on it. She says she believes there will be new music written, with two new songs to be added to the work.

Nancy Denis planning out her performance, and making notes of what her work will encompass. (Photo: Matthew Graham)

That first performance, I was pretty nervous, and it was a lot. So this time around it’s more about finessing, I guess. Like how do we wrap this up? What stories are missing? How do we make it come full circle? Those types of things,” Denis said.

Nancy Denis is also working with Winnie Dunn, a brilliant writer and General Manager of Sweatshop, a literacy movement based in Western Sydney. The two are working together to finalise the script and improve the already captivating storytelling ability that Denis possesses on stage.

Urban Theatre Projects has given Denis the freedom and comfortability to create as a true artist, leaving her with complete creative control of her work. Denis says it is one of the most rewarding parts about doing the residence work, and a huge reason as to why she continues her relationship with UTP.

They really take the time to develop work. They give the actors and writers the time to develop the work in a really organic way,” Denis said.

The Bankstown Arts Centre, the home of Urban Theatre Projects and Nancy Denis’ Residence. (Photo: Matthew Graham)

Denis will be in residency at Bankstown Arts Centre throughout the remainder of September, working with Carl St. Jacques, Liza-Mare Syron, Hilton Denis and Winnie Dunn to complete her ‘M’ap Boule’ work. Stay tuned for further updates on the progress of this project.


Written by Matthew Graham, Intern at Urban Theatre Projects and Communications student at Western Sydney University.