From a young age, Aurora Richardson has had her sights set on the stage. After being encouraged by her high school drama teacher to pursue a career in the Arts, Aurora a Brisbane native from the suburb of West End, began to think seriously about her future.
From Australia to France and on to the UK, where she now resides – Aurora has jumped at every opportunity that she can to improve her artistic practice. After successfully auditioning for the Young Actor’s programme at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Aurora moved to France to fulfil her childhood dream of becoming a clown; and she didn’t stop there. After a quick trip across the channel, Aurora successfully auditioned and became a member of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain which has taught the likes of acting greats Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Helen Mirren. It wasn’t soon after settling into the UK that Aurora found herself immersed in the London theatre scene attending the Evening Standard Awards, a perk of now being a fully-fledged student of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
“It’s not all glitz and glamour. The reality is that when you’re not at school, you’re living in a shoe-box and your diet consists of baked beans and jacket potatoes.” she said, “I think the closest I’ve ever been to getting scurvy has been whilst at drama school.”
Whilst at RADA Aurora was encouraged to sing, to write and to take classes in dramaturgy. Skills which she now believes are integral to all her artistic projects. As well as a surprise she didn’t see coming.
“It was actually at RADA where I realised my love for music. It has always been a part of my life – my dad and my brother are both musicians. I just didn’t make the connection between music and drama until I was confronted with it; in Othello!” She said.
During her classes, Aurora found that she was able to tap into the characters she was playing through experimenting with different sounds and instrumentation. Which soon began a process of taking what she knew from the script and imbuing it with its own musical quality.
“I started turning the characters I was playing into songs. I found I was able to understand them better through melody. Melody is equal to great subtext. Never underestimate the power of a minor chord. I was playing Emilia at the time. So part of my character study was exploring who she was through sound. I enjoyed this experience so much that I started to write for all the characters in Othello. The songs were actually incorporated into the final show. Then, well, it’s just gone from there.”
Aurora’s creative process since RADA has been a journey of self-discovery as she uncovered, tested and tried to percolate her skills and material into a form, an attitude, a gesture, a situation, even an expression, before she found what medium was best suited for her – cabaret.
“What even is cabaret? There is no concise definition in the lexicon of classical music to precisely explain what cabaret songs are. Yet, they have become a very popular addition to the art-song recital. Cabaret, I believe is the love-child of theatre and music. Think Phoebe Walter-Bridge meets Victoria Wood. It’s a fantastic medium to recount, satirise and politicise stories and events that occur around the world, as well as in our quotidienne lives.”
After being introduced to Steve Marmion (Artistic Director Soho Theatre) in 2017 by RADA mentor Paul Sirett (Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre). Aurora became a part of Soho Theatre’s Young Company – London’s most vibrant venue for cabaret, theatre and comedy. Aurora began to write and perform original music-comedy appearing on both the Soho Theatre Upstairs, Downstairs stages. Aurora’s first cabaret ‘Lady and the Cramp’ was developed with support from Soho Theatre. She has since gone on to perform around the UK with her all-female comedy quartet by her side. In 2019 the troupe received funding support from the Arts Council England’s National Lottery Fund which aided the creation of HERstory. Think ‘Top Girls’ the musical. Aurora has been keeping busy performing at the Edinburgh Festival appearing at the Surgeon’s Hall as well as part of the Assembly’s ‘Best of Cabaret’ line up, The Actor’s Centre, Toulouse Lautrec Jazz, Camden People’s Theatre, VAULT Festival, Brighton Fringe as well as Theatre Deli – one of the capitals most exciting and vibrant arts organisations.
“What I love about cabaret is that it’s not only entertaining; there’s also the possibility for real connections with the audience through revealing my self. Something that is hard to do with naturalistic plays. With cabaret, there’s more room to play, experiment and explore.”
Aurora looks forward to returning to the sunshine state this Christmas, and in the new year welcomes collaboration with Queensland cabaret star Xanthe Jones with whom she has worked very closely with in the past.