A writer and editor of Scots-Irish heritage, Cynthia Troup (she/her) is based northwest of Naarm (the Melbourne region), Victoria, Australia. Versatility and rigour are bywords for her practice. She has extensive experience working closely with other artists, scholars and researchers. Cynthia’s publications range from scripts for performance to articles in Italian Studies, and essays in the fields of contemporary art and music. She was awarded the 2020 Castlemaine Poetry Prize: her winning poem is titled ‘There’s Time’. In 2021 she was selected to participate in the North West Hub Nature Stewards Program—a nature conservation and advocacy training course; the first tri-council sponsored program undertaken in Victoria. Current creative ventures include anti-diva, a feminist performance project with vocalist and video artist Christiane Hommelsheim, and the latest in a history of collaborations with composer David Young. With composer and percussionist Elissa Goodrich Cynthia is developing a sound art installation for La Mama Theatre’s 2021 War-Rak/Banksia Festival. Centred on seedlings of the ‘hairpin banksia’, this work seeks to enliven conversations about human-plant interdependence, and the urgency of biodiversity restoration efforts in Victoria.
Recent publications include the essay ‘Orchestral playing as embodied knowledge—an unintended lament’ for ADSR Zine 013 (April 2021), and ‘from Fragments for Her History of the Father’ in Southerly, vol. 78.2—one among several published extracts from Cynthia’s creative nonfiction project Constant. Cynthia’s prose piece ‘Suspension (Destruction)’ was first published in the 2019 Shuffle anthology edited by Cassandra Atherton. Narrated in a soundscape composed by Sarah Monk, ‘Suspension (Destruction)’ was among the stories featured in Spineless Wonders’ sound-designed fiction special in 2020 (listen here).
In 2019 Cynthia worked with writer David Sornig and producer Miyuki Jokiranta on a podcast adaptation of David’s book Blue Lake: Finding Dudley Flats and the West Melbourne Swamp commissioned for ABC Radio National’s The History Listen programme. This podcast was shortlisted for the 2020–21 Prix Marulic International Radio Festival. Cynthia’s radio features What the Fox (2016), and Violin Lessons (2014) are now podcasts, too; these were commissioned by the then-new Creative Audio Unit at RN.
Cynthia was one of two writers in residence at the 2018 Hi-Viz Practice Exchange initiated by Chamber Made (read the resultant essay here). Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale is Cynthia’s latest work for mainstage theatre; Undercoat played to full houses through its premiere season at Melbourne’s La Mama Theatre in 2017. Also in 2017 she was commissioned by All the Queens Men to contribute to Congress (a unique series of ‘first speeches’ that served as the closing ceremony for the Melbourne Fringe), and one of ten writers selected for Writing this Place, a site-specific project commissioned by the City of Darebin in Melbourne’s north. December 2016 saw Cynthia and the Turbulence creative team in residence at RMIT Design Hub for the research laboratory Agile Chambers. Other major projects include re-versioning Turbulence for publication in the Danish e-book LIGE: Et Digitalt Festskrift for Samtidskunst (2015); and, with Chamber Made Opera, research and interviews to mark the company’s completion of 25 years.
Cynthia was a founding member of the artist-led company Aphids. Initially involved as a musician, her research and writing contributed significantly to the richness and originality of Aphids’ programming during the organisation’s first fifteen years. She began writing for performance as part of the Aphids/Kokon project Maps (Melbourne 2000, Copenhagen 2002). Her script And When They Were Good is part of the much-loved Aphids production A Quarreling Pair: A Triptych of Small Puppet Plays directed by Margaret Cameron, which has enjoyed seasons in Melbourne (2004, 2006, 2017), Castlemaine (2007), New York City (2009) and Rome (2011). Care Instructions, also directed by Margaret Cameron, toured to Holstebro (2009) following two Melbourne seasons (2008, 2009). Described as ‘uncompromising’, ‘melodious’ and ‘irresistibly Beckettian’, the text is published by Aphids as a limited edition, the result of collaboration with letterpress artist Carolyn Fraser. Cynthia has held writer’s residencies at Queen’s College Tower Studio (Melbourne, 2003), at Bains::Connective (Brussels, 2004, with David Young and Rosemary Joy), at Bundanon (Southern NSW, 2007 and 2016), and at Varuna, the National Writers’ House (Katoomba, 2016).
As an editor Cynthia specialises in non-fiction projects. She has helped to bring to publication scholarly monographs and collections for publishers based in Australia, Europe, UK and the USA (view Cynthia’s editing folio here). Cynthia completed a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at RMIT University in 2009; since 2006 she has been a full member of Editors Victoria (now a branch of the Institute of Professional Editors Ltd). She is also a member of PEN Melbourne, having served on the committee for a decade from 2006. In 2014 she was an official delegate to the 80th PEN International Congress hosted by Central Asia PEN in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
Cynthia graduated in 1992 from The University of Melbourne with a First Class Honours degree in history and art history; she was awarded the Margaret Kiddle Prize and the Felix Raab Prize in European History. She pursued further studies in Italian Renaissance history at Monash University with Professor Bill Kent. An Australian Foundation for Studies in Italy award made possible living and studying in Florence and Rome during 1995. In 2010 Cynthia was commissioned by Monash University to document the first decade of the Monash University Prato Centre—she collaborated with Jo-Anne Duggan, the Centre’s first artist in residence, on the book A Site of Convergence: Celebrating 10 Years of the Monash University Prato Centre, which has been characterised as ‘something of a miracle of institutional history’.
In 2017 Cynthia lectured in the Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) course at Deakin University. She has taught European and Italian Renaissance history at Monash University and at The University of Melbourne; also at Monash she has taught art history in the Department of Theory of Art and Design. She has been a guest lecturer at the Centre for Ideas, Victorian College of the Arts; in the School of Art History, and in the School of English and Theatre Studies at The University of Melbourne; in the School of Media and Communication, RMIT University, and at the National Gallery of Victoria.