A self-described “terrible student”, Thom Browning can pinpoint the moment his QUT Creative Industries studies cemented his career path.
“I made a theatre show for children for the first time and was blown away by the immediacy and responsibility with which young audiences experienced performance, free from any preconceptions of what theatre is, and open to what it could be,” Thom, who grew up in Mackay and Rockhampton, recalls.
“I knew almost immediately that I wanted to make art for and with children.”
Thom co-founded Imaginary Theatre in 2006 to champion children’s access to the arts and started creating work for the company in 2009, combining his skills as a theatre maker, composer, technical designer and, now, director.
His work has reached more than 180,000 children across the world including India, South Korea, Denmark and the UK.
“All this has happened from my home base in Brisbane, in collaboration with the incredible artists that live and work here.”
“The thing Brisbane has the most going for it is the extraordinary potential of its artists, who we’ve seen time and time again, flourish under the right conditions.”
Thom’s career is punctuated by Brisbane Festival presentations, starting with his first solo work, Giants Among Us, in 2009.
Imaginary’s TASHI featured in 2010 and its audio-immersive performance, The Voice in the Walls, in 2015 while Thom performed in the Australian-Korean production 지하 Underground in 2014.
“There tends to be lots of investment and focus on buildings, spaces, places for art to exist.
“For me, Brisbane Festival is at its best when art can be temporary and ephemeral. Where it comes to where people are or takes people to surprising spaces. When it engages Brisbane folk from all walks of life, whether they feel comfortable walking into a theatre or not.”