Martyn Coutts is a performance maker, dramaturg, video artist and lecturer.
Martyn was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. His father is from Glasgow, Scotland and his mother was Cape Coloured from Cape Town, South Africa. Martyn grew up in nipaluna/Hobart in lutrawita/Tasmania on Palawa lands. He now lives and works on Wurundjeri lands of the Kulin nation in Narrm/ Melbourne.
Martyn’s creative work develops strategies to bring audiences and performance into relation with each other, beyond the traditional bounds of the theatre. These public dramaturgies place the body at the centre of expansive, immersive experiences which aim to connect us to a greater understanding of our world and ourselves.
His projects have been shown extensively throughout Australia and internationally. He has taken a strong interest in creative links between Australia and the Asia-Pacific having shown work in Taiwan, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand.
Martyn has been at the forefront of a decade-long movement to have performance in non-traditional spaces and contexts recognised, toured and supported in Australia. His work with LALA (Live Art List Australia), with Field Theory and on funding panels has created strong advocacy for experimental performance, live art and participatory practice throughout the country.
Martyn holds a postgraduate diploma in Animateuring (Theatre Making) from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and is undertaking a MA from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology with a focus on cultural policy. He is a lecturer at the VCA (University of Melbourne) in Vision for the stage and Frontiers of Design for postdramatic theatre. He has a strong interest in the Asia-Pacific and his research focus is on the cultural and creative sectors and how they intersect with national identity and soft power.
Martyn is the Director of New Movement, a research organisation exploring cultural, civic and social movements across the Asia-Pacific. New Movement created Shell Game, a one-on-one performance work exploring tensions in the South China Sea that has toured to Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and will be performed at SUE (Series of Unexpected Encounters) in South Australia in October 2019. The performance work Body Politic has been shown in Taipei, Adelaide and Singapore. He created and performed Sensitive Words, a 24-hour online vigil for the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre on June 4th, 2019. New work The Fire Within, a work exploring the intersection of public space and democracy will premiere in Melbourne in February 2020.
Martyn’s creative projects are collaborative, site-responsive and use ubiquitous technologies in new and interesting ways. His Green Room award nominated work I Think I Can (with Sam Routledge) has been presented ten times around Australia since its premiere in 2013, it has toured internationally to the US, UK, Taiwan, Canada and the Netherlands. Other works include the Green Room nominated Operation, the Ars Electronica Pris shortlisted project Wayfarer and Computer Boy (shown at Performance Space, Sydney).
Martyn has worked as a creative and a producer at festivals throughout Australia. He was Director of the Melbourne Fringe keynote project for 2010, Visible City, Co-Director of the SAC35 festival in Hobart in 2012 and Co-Director of The Wheeler Centre Project 20 Questions presented at Brisbane Writers Festival and the Wheeler Centre Gala in Melbourne in 2014. Martyn was a key member of the Artistic Directorate of The Unconformity Festival in Queenstown, Tasmania. He curated the performance programs of its first two festivals (2016 and 2018). He also co-directed both of the opening events The Rumble (2016) and Tectonica (2018) with Ian Pidd. He sat on the Next Wave Festival Board for four years, including one year as Deputy Chair.
As a founding member of artist collective Field Theory, Martyn has been involved in all of their projects since 2009. Field Theory were named ‘Cultural Leaders’ in the field of Live Art in 2011 by the Australia Council. He was part of the team that produced the 2014 and 2015 mini-festival of site-specific works called Site Is Set. He was the co-project lead of The Stadium Broadcast in Christchurch, NZ in 2014, 9000 minutes at Queen Victoria Market 2016, Final Visions at ACCA in 2017 and Delta Sierra Juliet a commission by Kingston City Council in 2019. He was the founding editor of LALA (Live Art List Australia) a 4 year web document that tracked the rise of Live Art in Australia between 2009 and 2013.
From 2010-2015 Martyn was an Associate Artist at Aphids, engaging in programming and creation of multiple works including the national tour of Thrashing Without Looking. He was also the Co-Manager of Supermassive; the mentoring and residencies program for the company.
Martyn works as a dramaturg for dance, contemporary performance and interactive works. As dramaturg he has worked with the following artists; Stompin Dance Company, Luke George, Brooke Stamp, Martin Del Amo, Tamara Saulwick, Paula Lay, Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, Liesel Zink, Tasdance, Tanya Voges and Kellie O’ Dempsey, Nicola Gunn, Thomas Quirk, Selena de Carvahalo, Jamie Lewis, Danielle Reynolds and Michael Smith. Martyn is a member of the Asian Dramaturgs Network.
As a video artist, Martyn’s designs have appeared in works that have been presented at Melbourne Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Ten Days on the Island, and Dance Massive. He has worked with the following companies and creators; Brian Lipson, James Saunders, Tasdance, Stuck Pigs Squealing, Arena Theatre Company, Is Theatre, Kelly Ryall, Luke George, Dancehouse, Stompin, Tania Bosak, Nicola Gunn, The Rabble and Paula Lay. He was the recipient of a Victorian Green Room award for the video design on The Harry Harlow Project in 2009, a work which carried out a national Mobile States tour in 2011.