Friday, July 17, 2020

Winter session #1 "In Conversation" with Chris Endrey

The Canberra Critics Circle kicked off its annual Winter Conversations this week, with ex-Canberran all-rounder Chris Endrey our first guest.

Report by Samara Purnell

Helen Musa OAM and Chris Endrey

The critics were lucky enough to find themselves nicely spaced-out (physically at least) and hosted under strict Covid-safe practices at The Street Theatre, where we spent an hour listening to and probing Endrey (gently for the most part), on his study, work, desires and creative pursuits.

Endrey is a familiar face around Canberra, a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to creative and artistic creations and interests. He has interviewed heavy-weights, written and performed extensively across many platforms of music, songs and plays, including a local version of Eurovision - "Canbeurovision". 

He also holds a degree from the ANU that covers museum curatorship, physics and music!

Endrey is currently involved, during lock-down, with the Canberra Theatre Centre's online program, hosting his own variety show, "The World From Here with Chris Endrey". 

Endrey had just released his second album earlier this year and was about to embark on a tour, when COVID-19 forced the cancellation of all the tour dates. Endrey spoke with resignation about how that specific moment in time, momentum, relevance and feeling will never be available again, regarding his album tour. But he acknowledges that lock-down did offer different opportunities to both himself and audiences, albeit not always the ones we want. 

Endrey used this isolation time to bring awareness to recognising opportunity when it came his way, even ones in a form he may not have expected or been aiming for. He spoke of trying to gain an ability to see, appreciate or act on those when they arose and related this to the artistic population in general.

Spaced out at The Street Theatre

The socially-distanced critics "In Conversation"

The overarching desire to be authentic and genuine informs Endrey's artistic creations and even upon answering some of the questions asked of him by the critics, he took the time to ensure he was giving a genuinely thoughtful answer, including to the question "Are you elitist!" Questions around "eliteness", including the fact it isn't an actual word, arose as this is the topic of one of Endrey's shows.

When it comes to making a comfortable living, Endrey pulls no punches about how difficult a path it is to maintain creative integrity and to earn an income, as it is for many artists. But it is a path he has no plans to deviate from. His search for meaningful connections, in all forms, and truth and exploration, without compromise, clearly define the parameters of his work. 

In relation to the comments we hear ad nauseum about Canberra being boring or that nothing is going on in the creative fields here, Endrey is steadfastly defensive. He does acknowledge, however, that it is a difficult place to make those discoveries and connections and likens it to little terrorist cells trying to find each other.

The topic of who chooses to pursue artforms as a career was brought up and Endrey suggested that there are likely many people here with creative inclinations. He believes that the overall wealth of Canberrans and the specific, local job market likely contributes to few people actively working towards play-writing, publishing works, film-making and so on. The lack of extreme personal wealth and philanthropy being directly channeled into the arts is mentioned as another challenge to the local arts scene.

"Stuck" for the foreseeable (and unforeseeable) future on the outskirts of Canberra, Endrey accepts it may be a while before he can return to Melbourne. 

The critics speak to Chris Endrey

Endrey is very open and analytical in his discussions and before we knew it, the time was up, drinks were downed and we dashed off into the cold Canberra night, farewelling our multi-talented guest from a Covid-safe distance.