Meet Katie Wright Dynamite! She’s wild, she’s funny, and she twirls a mean hula hoop. Katie is an Adelaide actor, MC and circus performer, as well as series regular, Mimi, on ABC2’s Hoopla Doopla. We chat to Katie about how she juggles parenthood and life as a touring street, stage and screen performer.
Tell us about what it was like filming Hoopla Doopla in China!
It was amazing to come together with both an Australian and Chinese cast and crew and work out how to collaborate and find a common ground in storytelling and presentation. One of the really awesome things about working in China was the size of the set that we had for our Hoopla Doopla town, it was a huge studio, much larger than we would have in Australia. When I first saw Mimi’s all pink house I fell in love!
Why do you think Hoopla Doopla has been so popular?
I think a big part of it has been the fun physicality and visual storytelling. The attention to detail with the use of bright colours, as well as the way each character has distinct personality traits, is also engaging for children. Australian drama director Mark Barnard is an expert in the field of telling stories to a pre-school age group. His understanding of how they see and read stories was key in the
You toured Hoopla Doopla as a part of the Giggle and Friends tour, what was it like to be on tour with Jimmy Giggle and the gang?
Jimmy Giggle is a lovely and caring human and cast member. His on screen/stage self is not far from how he really is. He is o en being silly and making fun voices and having a good time with everyone!
As a busy mum, how do you juggle motherhood and touring?
I’ve kept performing a lot since having my little boy, Leo. Last year I travelled extensively throughout Europe and the UK. It was just me and Leo (who was almost two at the time), a bag filled mostly with juggling gear, and a big stack of hula hoops. I’ve worked on the circuit for such a long time and had an intuition that it was possible to do with a child, and thankfully it was. In fact, it was an amazing tour; I’ve toured for 15 years and touring solo with Leo felt like the first time again!
Can you share some of your tried and true tips for travelling with a little person?
Most of my touring with Leo I did before he turned two. In my experience, being pregnant or being in public with a baby brings out the best in people. People have helped me carrying my pram on the stairs to subway platforms around the world, helped carry my bags and hula hoops. I have, however, also figured out how to pull it off alone when I need to. When touring with Leo, I was still breast feeding and I think that helped. Breastfeeding can work like a super power to direct a child’s attention, get them to snuggle up or sit still if you need them to. People often asked me how I toured alone with a baby, but I figure they’re the same parenting challenges with different ways of approaching them. It’s just as hard being a parent at home as it is being a parent on the road; you’re simply juggling different things. Sometimes on the road you get lonely and this way I always have a little friend!
Your one-woman show Katie Wright Dynamite is a unique blend of comedy and circus performance; where do you get the inspiration for your material?
My solo show is just a silly extension of myself that I explore onstage. It’s the cheeky, sometimes rude, ridiculous over the top person that exists within me! I think there is a real value to comedy and I’m going to keep working on my craft of being a ridiculous loud female clown – I think the world needs more of them!
And finally, my 6 year old daughter Tilly wanted to ask; What’s it like to be on stage with lots of people watching you?
Hi Tilly, good question! I often think of it like having a conversation with a big group of people. They don’t actually answer you (well sometimes they do; that’s what we call a heckler), but you are listening to them to get your timing right, to hit your dramatic tension and to improvise, and that’s where the magic happens!
Having toured 12 countries and 15 festivals just last year alone, along with countless street performances, MC gigs and comedy shows, you could be forgiven for wondering how Katie manages to keep up with performing life as well as being a busy mama. All we can say is, it’s clear Katie Wright Dynamite has juggling down to a fine art, in more ways than one!
Images by Meaghan Coles Photography