Loose Canons: Alice Canton

Alice Canton is a performer and theatre artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her documentary work OTHER (Chinese) opens tonight at Q Theatre.

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Alice Canton is a performer and theatre artist based in Tāmaki Makaurau. She began her career as an actor, tutor, and corporate entertainer with The Court Theatre in 2003. Since then she has performed and taught throughout New Zealand, Australia and Asia, working with theatre companies Red Leap Theatre, Auckland Theatre Company, Barbarian Productions and Two Productions.

A Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School graduate, Alice's recent works include Dance Like Everybody's Watching (Auckland Theatre Company), White/Other and Orangutan (both at Basement Theatre). Alice’s company practice, White_mess, focuses on building open, creative structures to facilitate the production of diverse performance projects and collaborations. The first production from White_mess which Alice has directed and created with a group of Chinese Aucklanders is documentary work OTHER (Chinese), and it opens tonight at Q Theatre.

RED – a documentary performance
Wen Hui

Last year I ended up in Hong Kong after a hurricane theatre tour through Thailand, China, and Singapore. I saw a dozen or so works, and this one really stayed with me. RED takes stories from the revolutionary ballet The Red Detachment of Women and weaves together interviews, essays and anecdotes with contemporary choreographic practice. I was so inspired I wanted to explode. The ideas alone are a perfect intersection of language, traditional art, politics and filmmaking. But it was the form that set me on fire – the action of experiencing people, real, strong, vulnerable people – transforming ‘notions’ of the social and political into embodied storytelling.

Citizen: An American Lyric
Claudia Rankine

When I first read this book I wept. Rankine is a brilliant writer and her ability to craft critical, poetic truths both fills you up and hollows you out. Just read it.


“Difference that you can easily imagine but does not exist, or a difference you cannot perceive, but you can only imagine - like the thickness of a shadow”

I went to art school because I loved painting and concepts, and ended up almost flunking because I majored in sculpture and never made anything. Of all the people, work, and mess that was made during that time, Duchamp’s notion of infrathin (and my voracious appetite for picking people apart until there is nothing left) is the one thing I carry with me still. I guess when you’re bi-racial you understand what it feels like to exist in the spaces between.


We watched this film on repeat growing up. It’s totally iconographic - I can’t listen to that bassoon from the opening of Rite Of Spring without seeing the whole beginning of the universe. Or those dancing mushrooms from The Nutcracker. I’ll rarely watch a film twice, but I’ve seen this a million times.


FAFSWAG gives me life. Tanu Gago, Pati Solomona Tyrell, and the other artists that make up this collective are the definition of art and art-making. Their work is wild, thoughtful, political, unapologetic and sincere. It operates over multiple dimensions, it’s sophisticated, and it’s incredibly inspiring. Every time I see an exhibition, show, or event, it gives me courage, and I leave the space slightly different to when I came in.

OTHER (Chinese) runs from September 6-16 at Q Theatre. Tickets available here.

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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