Author Archive for Xanthe Coward

24
Oct
14

He Dreamed A Train

 

He Dreamed A Train

Brisbane Powerhouse & Metro Arts

Brisbane Powerhouse Visy Theatre

October 15 – 26 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

BPH_He_Dreamed_A_Train_6_2014-1177x663



On the weekend my friend and I were almost killed by a driver who, prompted by the green arrow, obviously, plunged straight ahead and directly into us from an inner right turning lane as I took the outer right turning lane in Bowen Hills on our way to Brisbane Powerhouse from the Sunshine Coast. (Usually the trip is just slow and frustrating due to roadworks!). Also, I sat through one of the most poorly written and unimaginatively staged plays I’ve ever had the misfortune to see (I know; everybody else thinks it’s brilliant! WTF?!), and I drove six hours in a day, to Toowoomba and back (I know; Kate Foy does it all the time!), to join my family as we said our final farewell to my lovely grandma. As I held Poppy in my arms and watched my grandma being laid to rest I remembered the shooting star I’d spotted on Friday night after returning home from the car accident that almost killed Dee and I, which also meant we’d missed the first ten minutes of He Dreamed A Train. It blazed across the sky for what seemed like forever to remind me that we are okay. And we are still here. And our time is precious. And that it is vital to experience theatre that changes us, rather than choose to suffer through theatre – or anything or anyone in life – that does nothing for us.

 
He Dreamed A Train (the title of the show is from Margi’s brother’s book of the same name) is about the reverie of remembrance, and honouring our memories… Mindfulness cannot be our mantra. There is a place for the past, and if we can resist staying there, if we can pull ourselves back into the present to live it fully, there are important lessons to be learned. Or not. And that’s why those lessons – the unlearned – continue to come at us.

 

 

Margi Brown Ash is a storyteller and teacher of the finest sort. Her delicious stories are slices of an extraordinary life, informed just as much by experience as by ancient myths and thrilling tales of heroes, dragons, kings, caves, and the power of gods and men.

 

 

BPH_He_Dreamed_A_Train_10_2014-1177x663

 

The combined creative forces of Margi Brown Ash, Travis Ash, and Benjamin Knapton means this company, Forces of Circumstance, lives up to its name, reviving notions of what contemporary theatre can look like, and sharing reverence for the traditions of oldschool storytelling. The forces of this circumstance are pretty powerful if you’re willing to listen.

 

Before there was ever a poor excuse for an animated film inspired by the book, Dr Seuss wrote The Lorax, and the magic of that opening, which I’ve heard read to me countless times, and read to hundreds of children over years of teaching is the mood established while we take our seats. Throughout the show there are the sounds of the Australian bush, evoking memories of my own. (I make a mental note: take in on Monday, my copy of The Lorax for our science unit, Save Planet Earth). Remember, we missed the first ten minutes of the show and Judy Hainsworth, that First World White Girl, acting as Brisbane Powerhouse usher extraordinaire, was obliged to keep us in the sound lock for a little while so my experience of the start of the show was the usual juggle of handbag, phone, wine (yes, you have time to check in and get to the bar when you’re late), and a short succession of single sounds; Margi’s gentle, soothing, telephone voice at one end of a conversation, footsteps and then static, at which point we were taken to our seats.

 

Note: If you are late to a show, don’t be uppity and expect to be seated after the show has started until a suitable break in the performance. Don’t be rude to the box office staff or the ushers. They’ve been told that a lock out period applies. This is a creative decision as much as it is a courtesy to the artists, and to the patrons who’ve arrived on time. There’s no need to begrudge anyone (ever). Everyone is doing his or her job. Ok? Ok.

 

Margi’s brother was diagnosed with a debilitating terminal illness, which changed everything and nothing. We journey with Margi and her son, Travis, in the role of her brother at the age of 23, to discover other worlds, the worlds in which they lost and found themselves as children, and then again as adults. These are compelling performances, gently guided by Knapton. I love the moments of furious pace (Travis Ash’s dramatic retelling of The Myth of Er, his impressive musicianship, and Margi’s moments of consternation as she sees her brother sitting, having fallen to the floor, waiting for anyone else but her to help him up) and the languid turns (Margi’s thoughts, spoken aloud as she wanders through the family home, not quite ever finishing packing the books into boxes and again, Travis Ash’s skill at the piano). We can’t help but join these two as they leap into paintings and their deepest memories. At just under 70 minutes, it’s a comparatively short show, and yet it feels like the longest time – time is stretched like a shooting star moment – in the presence of Margi Brown Ash & co.

 

BPH_He_Dreamed_A_Train_9_2014-1177x663

 

The increasingly difficult task these days of keeping an audience captivated is made easier in this circumstance by the seamless incorporation of sounds (Travis Ash) and images, which are thrown across walls and gradually, magically bring to life Hogwarts style, a painting of a landscape from another time and place (Nathan Sibthorpe, Freddy Komp & Benjamin Knapton). Though I don’t mind it, Dee can’t stand the static sound, and so we see it serve its purpose to challenge sensory perception and unsettle entirely. In stark contrast to the harsh static, we are both mesmerised as much by the misty, moving, changing and raining painting as we are by the performances. I leave this show feeling vulnerable, and uplifted, as if my child has revealed to me her special secret fairy wish and I just know I can make it come true before the fairy fades away and…well, I mean I hope I can.

 

 

The energy & momentum of the storytelling, its ebb and flow, the naturalness and grandeur of delivery, the rich vocal work and dramatic images cast by the actors’ physical states and their connection with each other, as well as the tech wizardry, make for a fascinating insight into the mind and heart of Margi Brown Ash, a true theatrical treasure.

 

 

He Dreamed A Train is one of the most challenging and entirely engrossing new works you’ll see this year. I’m sure it will have another life after this (Sweet!) Brisbane Powerhouse season (I’d love to see it come to the Sunshine Coast), but if you can catch it in the Visy space, do. When there are magical, beautiful, inspiring and life-changing tales such as this to be told, there had better be a bloody good reason to endure anything less intelligent, or less lovely in life.

 

23
Oct
14

Reality Bites Nonfiction Literary Festival

Reality Bites Nonfiction Literary Festival 2014

 

Now in its seventh year, Reality Bites brings Australia’s best minds and writers of literary nonfiction to the Noosa Hinterland. Presented by the Sunshine Hinterland Writers’ Centre, this festival is hand-crafted by a dedicated group of writers, readers and lovers of books and ideas.

 

This year the Festival is delighted to spread the word in Eumundi, taking weekend events to two new venues there. After the most successful ever event last year, it now offers a three day festival pass that includes a program of close-up sessions, panels and conversations with a brilliant lineup of local and interstate authors.

 

Feed your heart and mind at the Poet’s Speakeasy on Friday night, then on Saturday night celebrate the festival and welcome VIP guests.

 

Check out a workshop series for developing writers and programmed sessions covering a range of subjects for readers, thinkers and writers alike. And don’t forget the wildly popular pitching clinic where writers pitch their book ideas to a panel of industry experts.

 

Join writers and lovers of good writing for a feast of ‘food for thought’ in the REAL heart of the Hinterland.

 

realitybites_launch2014

A message from Artistic Director, Melanie Myers

 

It’s been a year of changes for Reality Bites Festival – the most obvious being our change of dates and location. Having enjoyed great support in Eumundi – from the Eumundi Green magazine and the Eumundi Historical Association, which has sponsored our festival launch since the event began – the time seemed right to spread the word to out to the wider Hinterland. While our workshop program and community events will remain at the Cooroy Library, our home for the last two years, hosting the main program in Eumundi allows us to kick off events Friday afternoon, and continue right through Saturday and Sunday with two streams of panels, conversations and close-up sessions that showcase a diverse range of Australia’s best nonfiction writing and authors.

 

For a nonfiction writers’ festival, ‘Reality Bites’ is a fitting name, and has held us in good stead for seven years now. When planning the program for 2014, our name got me thinking about the term ‘reality’ and, more particularly, what we mean by ‘real’. Real is considered synonymous with truth. We understand real to be what is actual, rather than imaginary.

 

For a literary festival that specialises in showcasing Australia’s best nonfiction, concepts of what are actual, real and the truth, are the touchstones of our existence. That might suggest we are in the business of disseminating cold, hard facts, but the truth is, that’s rarely the case. What is real, or even what seems real, may be true only so far we, as individuals, communities and societies, perceive and feel things to be real – whether that be love, loss, deviancy, injustice, the workings of our own mind (as with mental illness), or our shared past. This idea of ‘real’ is the thematic thread that underpins this year’s program.

 

So often the prerogative of fiction, real love, for example, holds a prominent place in this year’s program. As well as launching Australian Love Stories – a new anthology of short stories and memoir – we’ll be discussing the use and abuse of the ‘L’ word in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry in ‘Words of Love’. With proceeds going to the Morcombe foundation, both real love and real crime will be in focus, as author Lindsay Simpson talks about the process of co-writing Looking for Daniel with Bruce and Denise Morcombe, and their 10-year quest to find out what happened to their son. Real crime and real dirt turns on the agents of the law enforcement themselves with ‘Watching the Detectives’ − our police diaries conversation in two parts, while ‘Dirty Secrets’ looks into the ASIO files of well-known Australian activists.

 

For the ‘big issues’ this year we’re talking about women in politics, or the lack of, in ‘Dis-man-tling the Joint’, and the competing realities of compassion and the law in ‘Seeking Refuge’. In a special 90-minute session, ‘Forgotten War’, Steven Lang will discuss the ‘white washing’ of Australia’s real history with respect to the frontier wars with historian Henry Reynolds, and academics Nicholas Clements and Tony Birch. For our Saturday morning-tea event, Maxine McKew will talk about inequality in our education system, and real solutions to remedy the problem. These are but a sampling of the conversations I hope will generate real discussion, real ideas, and perhaps even, one day, real change.

 

Ultimately, as readers and writers we have the power to create our own realities, and I hope you find something that’s real to you at Reality Bites ’14. Enjoy!

 

MelanieMyersc-750x400

TODAY – Thursday October 23 2014

 

Berkelouw Books:

Early Bird Breakfast – free
THURS 23, 7.30 a.m.

AV Presentation by Raoul Slater of the new book Glimpses of Australian Birds
Croissants supplied by Berkelouw Cafe. Buy your own beverages.


Check website for details. http://www.berkelouw.com.au/events

 

Berkelouw Books Open Bookclub – free
THURS 23, 6 – 8:30pm
Join Eumundi Book Club for its discussion of Thomas Picketty’s Capitalism in the 21st Century.
Check website for details. http://www.berkelouw.com.au/events

 

(Book club attendees can attend Reality Bites session 24 AmalgaNations for free. Please register with Amanda at Berkeleow.)

 

School of Arts:

Beyond Fossil Fuels: Alternatives for a Clean Energy Future
THURS 23, 6:30 – 7:30pmIan Lowe, Drew Hutton and Tasmin Kerr
Tickets at door $5/$2
Tomorrow night – Friday October 24 – Katie Noonan presents Song Book at Eumundi School of Arts

 

Katie Noonan’s Song Book
FRI 24, 6 – 8:30pm

 

School of Arts

Katie NoonanLocal song-siren Katie Noonan hosts and performs with special guests in this annual community fundraiser. Profits go to Eumundi State School and School of Arts Hall.

Cash- only tickets available from Berkelouw Books Eumundi and Discover Eumundi Heritage and Visitor Centre.

 

 

See you there! (And before that, we’ll be at Words of Love with Anna Campbell, Annah Faulkner, Mandy Sayer & Ashley Hay).

 

 

Follow @xsentertainment on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with what’s happening at the Festival!

 

 

Download the PDF Program

 

 

realitybites_flyers2014

07
Oct
14

Wuthering Heights

 

Wuthering Heights

QPAC and shake & stir

QPAC Cremorne

October 1 – 18 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

wutheringheights_header

 

 

Time stagnates here.

 

 

“…everything anyone other than an english professor knows about Wuthering Heights at all happens in the first half. Then it drags on and on, focusing mainly on how handsome AND EVIL Heathcliff is, and how twisted he is, and how he’s just going to keep on ruining the lives of basically everyone around him.”

 

From Krypton With Love

 

 

 

#ohheathcliff

 

If it’s a gorgeous, dark, desperate, thrilling thing you’re after don’t miss this Wuthering Heights.

 

One of my favourite companies, shake & stir, continues to come up with some of the most challenging and engaging original live theatre in Brisbane. Their adaptations of classic literature are all superb (1984, Animal Farm, Tequila Mockingbird), and their latest production, a new version of Emily Bronte’s classic gothic masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, is no exception.

 

Adapted and directed by Nick Skubij, this production has a slightly different feel to shake & stir’s previous works, which have been less subtle, and somehow lighter, though no less complex, confronting or shocking in terms of their themes and the impact of each on their audience. This time – it must be the moody design inspired by the eerie moors on which the story takes place – it’s a spectacular looking production and the drama follows suit.

 

 

Terror made me cruel.

 

 

We have come to expect extraordinary beauty from this brilliant creative team: shake & stir, optical bloc and – I’m sure I’ve said it before – Brisbane’s hottest design team comprising Josh McIntosh (Set Design), Jason Glenwright (Lighting Design) and Guy Webster (Sound Design). These guys seem to split up and flit about a bit, but every time they come together with shake & stir, theatre magic happens. It’s as if they come home to play at shake & stir, and out of pure joy and surrender comes their best work. Adding to the mix this time, Leigh Buchanan’s delicate-dramatic touch (Costume Design), makes Wuthering Heights a dark and stormy (yes, you can taste it), sexy and sumptuous production.

 

 

Although the pace lags at times due to Gerry Connolly’s stilted delivery (at times the pauses are effective and at other times, not so much), his characterisation of Nelly Dean and his/her oddly measured phrases remind me of my Aunty Lorna, who has seemed eternally elderly to me, and yet has always been the most lively and strongly opinionated of the relatives I visited with as a child, with the keenest powers of observation and the longest memory. It’s as if Connolly has studied Aunty Lorna’s conversation. I always remember though, in stark contrast to Connolly’s static state, Lorna’s hands shaking to match her voice as she talked about whichever book she was devouring at the time, or the latest horror on the news, or her favourite British TV crime series. She would always insist on pouring the tea for us, in her own kitchen, in her own house, for years and years, before finally moving to a high care facility. She’s ninety-something.

 

In his Director’s Notes, Skubij reminds us that guilt doesn’t only lie with he who sinks the knife in. “Heathcliff has copped a lot of flack over the years and has been hailed as the personification of evil in this tale but what if the real devil wears a housemaid’s outfit?” It’s an excellent point and I feel like this aspect of evil, left to fester and subliminally feed the minds and hearts of others, although hinted at in this adaptation, remains largely unexplored. By Chapter 7 of Bronte’s novel Heathcliff is being advised by Nelly Dean. Sam thinks she is the mastermind and Heathcliff her pawn, though to what end he can’t say. (“Some people are just twisted!”).

 

wutheringheights_gerryconnolly

 

I love Connolly on the ivories, the accompaniment lends such a disturbing, penetrating, haunting air to proceedings, and his presence overall as Nelly Dean, particularly as her figure looms overhead, projected across fluttering silk curtains, is eerily omnipresent. (And to throw each character’s image, cleverly consumed by mist and fog early, and then later by curling flames against the flimsy fabric to demonstrate their downfall and their ultimate demise, is an inspired dramatic choice). Without the expertise and creative flair of Projection Designers, optikal bloc (and also, of Photographer, Dylan Evans), this version of Wuthering Heights would not be nearly as powerful.

 

Not quite as inspired, it has to be said, are the wigs selected for use in this production, but now that we’ve mentioned it we’ll just leave that one alone.

 

 

We cannot escape each other.

 

 

wutheringheights_melaniezanetti

 

I love Nelle saintly-blonde-bombshell Lee’s Isabella Linton, whose self destruction, in its naivety, is always so much sadder than mad, stubborn Catherine’s, isn’t it? And as Catherine AND Cathy, allow me to rave for a moment about Melanie Zanetti. I’m sure you don’t mind because, having seen her before, you know she is absolute perfection. If this is your first time with Zanetti, enjoy (and make sure it’s not just a one night stand!). She’s a wild, free heart (but not free at all, of course she’s not), like Charlotte Riley in Goky Giedroyc’s 2009 version for PBS. Zanetti transfixes her tall, dark, brooding, vicious vagabond Heathcliff (Ross Balbuziente) and also, every single member of the audience on opening night. What? Am I wrong? She’s absolutely captivating; in both roles emitting the essence of beautiful, alluring girl-child-grown-woman, like a heady fragrance worn lightly, of which we get a sense before the show even starts; I could be wrong but I feel it’s Marc Jacobs’ Oh Lola! (If so, thank you cosmetics training). If indeed it were deliberate, this subtle addition to the theatrical experience is absolute genius. On the other hand, perhaps it’s pure coincidence (if so, thank you unsuspecting audience member), but regardless, we get a sense of it at the beginning of the show, as the scent is carried on the cold wind in the created storm. And what a storm! The opening moments of Wuthering Heights are up there with The Lion King and Les Miserables for unforgettable entry points into the story. The final moments too are breathtaking, stunning, all the superlatives… Anyway, Zanetti’s ability to balance wide-eyed innocence with mad, obsessive passion makes me fear – and relish – having a daughter.

 

She burned too bright for this world.

 

 

In their debuts for shake & stir (though they are no strangers to the stage and screen), Anthony Standish and Julian Curtis are also impressive. This is most interesting and engaging work from Standish (Hindley/Hareton), and it’s the second time I’ve seen Curtis (Edgar). The first was in The Glass Menagerie and I hope there will be many more opportunities to see what he can do. Let’s keep him here a little longer, shall we?

 

wutheringheights_rossbalbuziente

 

Ross Balbuziente – he of the poster, which has had high school girls and boys stopping in halls and swooning all year – presents a sultry, stormy Heathcliff straight from the pages of the book. I think it’s fair to say it’s likely we’ve never seen the full extent of this performer’s range, or perhaps it’s a lack of total surrender to each role, though what he’s doing always seems to be enough. Even so, there’s an electric undercurrent here that makes me want to slap him and say, “GO THERE” …er, see more from Balbuziente.

 

darlingbutwhatifyoufly

 

Oh, Heathcliff. Are you really as evil as all that? I’ve never believed it! (Save me right now). Let’s call you misunderstood, a product of your environment, and without the consciousness or awareness to meditate on your destructive hatred and your desperate revenge-seeking in order to realise an alternative path.

 

07
Oct
14

Monty Python’s Spamalot

 

Monty Python’s Spamalot

Harvest Rain

QPAC Concert Hall

October 2 – 5 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Right. Look, every company has a sacred cow and Spamalot is probably Harvest Rain’s.

 

It’s a very silly, very funny, very popular award winning show and it will not do anyone any good to say anything that is not rave, rave, rave about this production. In fact, to say anything critical is simply missing the point, right? This show is fun, fun, fun! And I love Monty Python! And look! Jon English and Simon Gallaher together again on stage at QPAC! Harvest Rain are so good now at giving their audiences what they want that really, it’s a bit ridiculous for me to post anything at all, and I haven’t done for a few days, genuinely unsure about whether or not it’s worth calling out a company that does so much GOOD.

 

I was so bemused confused impressed by the overwhelmingly enthusiastic and very forgiving opening night reception that some lyrics of my own popped into my head when The Song That Goes Like This refused to leave it! This is a silly review for a silly show that was obviously a heap of fun to create and for the vast majority, a heap of fun to watch. The highlights for me were in the performances by Dash Kruck, Chris Kellett, Julie Anthony, Frank Woodley, and in the one highly polished full production number, which cleverly updated and relocated, You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz. You might not recall Eric Idle’s version of The Mikado’s I’ve Got a Little List (we grew up with this production on VHS!), but you may have enjoyed more recently, Mitchell Butel’s brilliant performance (2011). I enjoyed less than others, obviously, the awkward moments; pauses and LOL that seemed to indicate we were a little lost along the way to finding our grail. Also, can I say Dan Venz is the Cassie of every chorus? This is not actually a bad thing. I can’t wait to see what he choreographs for Footloose.

 

If you didn’t see it – it was another short season over one weekend at QPAC’s Concert Hall – you can take my word for it; Monty Python’s Spamalot is another official Harvest Rain Smash Hit! Really! What do I know? Everybody (else) LOVED it!

 

 

 The Show That Goes Like This

 

At least once every year

There comes a show like this

The main cast is paid loads

And think they’ll take the piss

Where is the show that goes like this?

Where is it? Where? Where? Here it is! Here!

 

A Monty Python show

Accolades where’re it goes

The punters sing along

They know every silly song

For this is the show they love like this

Yes it is! Yes it is!

 

Now the cast should know their job

And remember why they’re here

Is Julie Anthony the only one who cares?

 

Jon English is a star

But he’s taken it too far

Impro

visation

fail!

 

Frank Woodley’s comedy

Is perfect for this show

But the French scene goes too long

For jokes we’re scraping low

For this is the show that goes like this!

 

I’m feeling slightly gypped

Although they’re well equipped

to put on a polished show

this really isn’t it

For this is their show to take the piss!

 

I can’t believe there’s more

Did they not learn before?

Dash, Chris and Shaun are gold

But this show’s been oversold

Will we accept more shows that go like this?

Yes we will! Of course we will!

 

Harvest Rain have got some gall

It’s true, they have a ball

We need the upbeat shows

But at what price we go?

The company comes out on top like this!

 

 

01
Oct
14

Saying no and staying home is hard!

 

In lieu of attending Lavazza Italian Film Festival opening night tonight in Brisbane I made our favourite Italian dish at home and asked Poppy to put on Andrea Bocelli loud enough for the whole street to hear.

THIS IS WHY:

 

I love my little family.

 

I love cooking.

 

I love cooking Italian food.

 

I love eating Italian food.

 

There are times when I actually do enjoy cooking and eating at home.

 

I don’t see Sam very often at the moment, although I hear him every morning now from 5am – 9am on HOT91.1! That’s right! In case you missed it (serves you right for not following us on Twitter and Insta), Sam is the Sunshine Coast’s newest brekky radio show host! He joins the lovely and very funny Lynda Edmunds each morning. Together they are #samandedmoforbreakfast & #wakeuptosamandedmo & #thesoundofthecoast  (Sam is actually perfect in this role. He sounds as if it’s what he’s always done. I guess at every party, and in every upbeat moment, indeed he has done!). Luckily, the station has completely rebuilt itself and the music is now awesome too. I mean, it’s actually great! Every hour there is 80s gold! GOLD!

 

samsedmoslider

 

I’m driving to Brisbane tomorrow night for shake & stir’s Wuthering Heights and on Friday night for Harvest Rain’s Spamalot. Chookas, all!

 

Driving to Brisbane gets expensive.

 

Driving to Brisbane gets frustrating.

 

Also, there is always good wine here.

 

I was looking forward to seeing a heap of the Italian films over the next couple of weeks and also, to meeting Nadir Caselli. Well, weren’t you? Isn’t she just gorgeous?! I think I’ve decided not to see anything at all, and to find all of the amazing films on offer this year, eventually, somewhere online.

 

 

nadircaselli

 

I managed to get out last night with my dear friend, Min (you know Min, of White House Celebrations), to catch an advanced screening of Gone Girl. Directed by David Fincher, with a screenplay by the author, Gillian Flynn, this is one of the best page to screen adaptations I’ve seen. I loved the book and the film stays true to its quirks, its characters, its pace and structure, and its disturbing brilliance. It could be argued that the film is in fact, a little more brilliant! I know. It’s a big call. Perhaps I’ll tell you more (but not too much more!) another time. I still have some theatre reviews to write (I always have theatre reviews to write), a stack of one-act plays to get through, and Term 4 planning to complete, and according to Poppy it’s not even nearly the end of school holidays. We have much more cooking, baking, swimming, playing, singing, dancing, shopping, running, reading, making, gardening and climbing to do!

 

italian1

 

It’s no wonder that we are all so tired by the end of each day! A no-show-night means, officially, it’s an early night. I’m trying to establish a new routine actually, because being back at school is exhausting enough, and I’m trying to get up earlier to write. With Sam up and at ‘em before four, I figure I can get up too, get dressed, light some candles, make some tea and work for two or three hours before Poppy stirs. If I’m feeling super motivated I’ll do some yoga again too.

 

We’ll see how long this lasts…

 

italian2

 

 

01
Oct
14

Black Diggers

brisbanefestival2014

blackdiggers

 

Black Diggers

Queensland Theatre Company & Sydney Festival

QPAC Playhouse

September 24 – October 12 2014

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward 

 

This is the beginning of a conversation.

Director, Wesley Enoch

 

Second class citizens who don a uniform and fight for a nation that doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate them? Sounds like fiction, doesn’t it? It’s not; it’s the strange, sad Australian truth penned by Tom Wright and directed by Wesley Enoch for this year’s Sydney Festival. Opening last week in Brisbane, the staging of Black Diggers in 2014 coincides with 100 Years of ANZAC.

 

The Indigenous story is one of quiet strength.

Director, Wesley Enoch

 

In his Conversations interview with Richard Fidler, Enoch reveals that one hundred years ago, the Aboriginal soldiers didn’t fight for king and country. “They fought for justice and freedom”. It’s fascinating to hear the discussion about the construction of an imagined piece, this reconciliation story, from “distant remembered information”.

 

If you’re prepared to die side by side you should be prepared to live side by side.

Director, Wesley Enoch

 

One hundred years ago, in 1914, a bullet from an assassin’s gun in Sarajevo sparked a war that ignited the globe. Patriotic young men all over the world lined up to join the fight – including hundreds of Indigenous Australians.

 

Shunned and downtrodden in their own country – and in fact banned by their own government from serving in the military – Aboriginal men stepped up to enlist. Undaunted, these bold souls took up arms to defend the free world in its time of greatest need. For them, facing the horror of war on a Gallipoli beach was an escape from the shackles of racism at home, at a time when Aboriginal people stood by, segregated, unable to vote, unable to act as their children were ripped from them. When the survivors came back from the war, there was no heroes’ welcome – just a shrug, and a return to drudgery and oppression.

 

Black Diggers is the story of these men – a story of honour and sacrifice that has been covered up and almost forgotten.

 

Directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom WrightBlack Diggers is the culmination of painstaking research into the lives and deaths of the thousand or so Indigenous soldiers who fought for the British Commonwealth in World War I.

 

Grand in scale and scope, it draws from in-depth interviews with the families of black Diggers who heard the call to arms from all over Australia, as well as conversations with veterans, historians and academics. Young men will step from the blank pages of history to share their compelling stories – and after the curtain falls, we will finally remember them.

 

A sleek, smooth, black(board) set designed by Stephen Curtis (I love the ghetto style drum contained eternal flame) invites us to stay awhile on common ground – the best classroom of all – and with the support of Ben Hughes’ lighting states and Tony Brumpton’s soundscape we travel to many different eras and places to hear the stories that one hopes will continue to open hearts and minds.

 

Soldiers’ names – classic white on black – a simple and effective visual device, serves as a constant reminder that lives were not only lost at war but also, upon the soldiers’ return “home”, where they were expected to take on once more the subservient roles on white mans’ stations, sans newly acquired skills and confidence. The piece maintains good pace, with a bit of Three Stooges style comedy throughout and it’s clear that an attempt has been made to balance the teacher tone of each lesson with dramatic flair.

 

The notions of mateship, racism and reconciliation come across strongly in this production, from the opening gathering of actors, as Vietnam Veteran and Aboriginal elder, George Bostock, sits centre stage to shine a pair of shoes, to the final scene depicting ANZAC Day commemorative events. During the closing moments The Last Post is played as a “new remembering of a story that may have been forgotten”, with a didgeridoo creeping in beneath the Reverie. Some are visibly moved and on their feet, while others remain seated, reflecting no doubt, and appreciating the monumental amount of work that’s gone into constructing and staging the production just as much as the story itself. Perhaps, for some, the story is more powerful than the telling of it.

 

Wright’s work would certainly translate well, with the help of a ruthless screenwriter, to our television screens. Surely there is funding for that development following an extensive national tour. In the meantime, particularly in the current political climate, there’s no excuse to miss this landmark production, with so many opportunities to catch the performance at QPAC’s Playhouse or experience the live simulcast on October 8 (see details below).

 

Let’s continue the conversation. Lest we forget.

 

People did remember. And they did think about it. It just took time.

Director, Wesley Enoch

 

Filmed live from The Playhouse QPAC on Wednesday 8 October and streamed direct to nine venues across Queensland, audiences will simultaneously experience the powerful and compelling story of Black Diggers.

 

AYR

Burdekin Theatre

Book at the theatre or visit burdekintheatre.com.au

 

BUNDABERG

Moncrieff Entertainment Centre

Book at the Box Office or visit moncrieff-bundaberg.com.au

 

CAIRNS

Cairns Civic Theatre

Book at the ticketLiNK counter, phone 1300 855 835 or visit cairnscivictheatre.com.au

 

GLADSTONE

Gladstone Entertainment Convention Centre

Book at the Box Office, phone 07 4972 2822 or visit gladecc.com.au

 

MACKAY

Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre

Book at the Box Office, phone 07 4961 9777 or visit mackayecc.com.au

 

MOUNT ISA

Mount Isa Civic Centre

Book at Outback at Isa or phone 07 4749 1555

 

ROCKHAMPTON

Pilbeam Theatre

Book at the Box Office in person, phone 07 4927 4111 or visit seeitlive.com.au

 

TOOWOOMBA

Empire Theatre – Heritage Bank Auditorium

Book at the Box Office in person, phone 1300 655 299 or visit empiretheatre.com.au

 

TOWNSVILLE

The Amphitheatre, Jezzine Barracks

Bookings not required.  For more details visit townsville.qld.gov.au

This event is proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

 

30
Sep
14

QTC launches impressive season for 2015

 

Queensland Theatre Company Season Launch 2015

QPAC Playhouse

Monday September 29 2014

 

Four world premieres, a super star Main Stage and a five-show DIVA program lead a front row Season 2015 for the state’s theatre company

 

Queensland Theatre Company has unveiled a stunning Season 2015, the most diverse and ambitious program the company has ever staged, starring an extraordinary lineup of acclaimed actors, writers, directors, musicians and designers.

 

Four world premieres, a mainstage program of eight major works, a DIVA program celebrating women on stage and more, the season features a roll call of music and theatre greats and emerging stars  – Tim Finn, Amanda Muggleton, Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenen, Carol Burns, Christen O’Leary, Libby Munro, Margi Brown Ash, Tama Matheson and Jason Klarwein, Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Rachael Beck, Robyn Arthur, Dash Kruck, Michael Tuahine, Chenoa Deemal, Naomi Price, Daniel Evans, Hugh Parker, Brian Lucas, Lucas Stibbard, Amy Ingram, Conrad Colby, Lucy Goleby, Melanie Zanetti, Emily Burton, Helen Cassidy, Nicholas Gell, Barbara Lowing and the list goes on.

 

Directors taking the lead this year include the internationally acclaimed Simon Phillips, the prolific Roger Hodgman, Iain Sinclair, as well as QTC’s own Artistic DirectorWesley Enoch, Todd MacDonald, Daniel Evans and current Resident Directors Andrea Moor and Jason Klarwein and more.

 

bostonmarriage_qtcseason2015

 

The year starts with David Mamet’s witty comedy Boston Marriage and ends with the world premiere of an outstanding new musical called Ladies in Black. This stunning adaptation of Madeleine St John’s 1993 novel, is brought to life by multi award winner Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Love Never Dies) with original music from superstar singer and musician, Tim Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House).

 

ladiesinblack_qtcseason2015

 

Ladies in Black has been supported by the Newman Government’s Super Star Fund, a Queensland Government program that delivers super star performances exclusive to the state.

 

Arts Minister Ian Walker said Ladies in Black was the latest project to receive Super Star Fund investment. “This is another coup for Queensland which sees the Super Star Fund once more giving Queensland audiences world-class arts productions, as well as unique opportunities for our Queensland artists to learn from the best in their field,” Minister Walker said.

 

Ladies in Black will be nothing short of extraordinary. With Tim Finn creating the music and our own Christen O’Leary as the star, this marks the triumphant return of true musical theatre to Queensland Theatre Company’s stage.

 

“This world premiere will be a uniquely Queensland experience, and we look forward to welcoming audiences from Brisbane, regional areas and interstate for what will be a blockbuster stage event in 2015.”

 

QTC Artistic Director Wesley Enoch said that from the opening night of Boston Marriage on January 24 through to the closing show of Ladies in Black on December 6, the year is a front row offering for all ages.

 

“2015 stands as out most ambitious and wide-ranging in terms of content, actors and delivery. There’s the very funny stage adaptation of the hit TV show Mother & Son; two more world premieres – Brisbane, about the infamous Battle of Brisbane during WWII told through the eyes of a young boy, and Country Song, focusing on Indigenous country and western legend Jimmy Little, with lots of great songs and also three iconic plays: Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, Chekhov’s The Seagull and Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days,” he said.

 

“In addition to the mainstage, there is a special celebration of amazingly talented Queensland women in a suite of works called DIVA. For all the family we present the whimsical Argus created by Dead Puppet Society and for older ones Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, a contemporary retelling of the Oedipus story and winner of the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award.”

 

“QTC has been the leader in Queensland theatre for 45 years and in 2015 we are bringing you a huge range of professional productions that show off the best talent from around the country.

 

“Our season draws from our nationally recognised Indigenous Program, our showcasing of local independent theatre companies, partnerships with commercial presenters, plays commissioned from our New Works Program, the return of the musical and of course our very special DIVA program.”

 

“Season 2015 is another tremendous on-stage adventure, we hope you love it.”

 

Launching Season 2015 in the finest of on-stage style is Boston Marriage, the quick-fire turn-of-the-century comedy riddled with the wicked wit of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer behind Glengarry Glen Ross and Speed-the-Plow, David Mamet. Performed on Broadway in 2002, Boston Marriage stars double Helpmann Award-winning actor Amanda Muggleton under the directorship of Andrea Moor, who delighted audiences and critics alike and won a Matilda Award for 2013’s Venus in Fur.  This three-woman production will also tour to 10 Queensland regional centres in 2015.

 

mother&son_qtcseason2015

 

Fresh from the world premiere season at Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre comes Mother & Son, the brand new stage comedy based on the treasured Australian  television classic, with an all-star cast led by Noeline Brown and Darren Gilshenan together with Rob Carlton, Nicki Wendt, Rachael Beck and Robyn Arthur. Written by Geoffery Atherden and directed by Roger Hodgman Mother & Son will be a highlight stage experience.

 

brisbane_qtcseason2015

 

In April QTC presents the world premiere of Brisbane by Queensland playwright Matthew Ryan.

 

A large scale new work starring an all-Brisbane cast including Conrad Colby, Lucy Goleby, Dash Kruck and Melanie Zanetti, Brisbane tells a significant  story of our Queensland capital, in a year when Australian commemorates a century of service in different theatres of war.

 

 

countrysong_qtcseason2015

 

July 4 heralds the world premiere of the exciting new Indigenous work Country Song. An award winning script by Reg Cribb, it is based on an original concept by Michael Tuahine. Country Song is set in 1973 with the opening of the Sydney Opera House and revolves around legendary singer Jimmy Little and includes  true life experiences of other Indigenous singers such as Wilma Reading, Auriel Andrew, Bobby McLeod, Vic Simms, Roger Knox and Lionel Rose – this is a true onstage, toe-tapping adventure.

 

theseagull_qtcseason2015

 

In August QTC’s Actors Studio presents The Seagull. QTC Artistic Associate Todd MacDonald and Queensland playwright Daniel Evans will adapt this classic which will be performed by an ensemble of ten acclaimed Brisbane actors: Emily Burton, Helen Cassidy, Nicholas Gell, Amy Ingram, Jason Klarwein, Barbara Lowing, Brian Lucas, Christen O’Leary, Hugh Parker and Lucas Stibbard. This will be a bold contemporary retelling of one of Chekhov’s great plays.

 

theoddcouple_qtcseason2015

 

The classic comedy from Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony Award-winning American playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon, The Odd Couple reteams the odd couple from 2013’s Design For Living, uber talented duo Jason Klarwein and Tama Matheson – as the housemates from hell for what will be another season highlight, under the direction of Wesley Enoch.

 

Accompanying the Mainstage Season is the DIVA suite of works which  brings together five theatrical goddesses, each taking centre stage in their own tour-de-force performances.

 

 

rumourhasit_qtcseason2015

 

Chenoa Deemal tells touching, funny stories of tears and reconciliation in a celebration of Indigenous survival in The 7 Stages of Grieving, a powerful story by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman. Doyenne of the stage Carol Burns is brave Winnie, buried to her waist in Samuel Beckett’s absurd, surreal masterpiece Happy Days. Libby Munro is a deadly Air Force pilot brought back to earth with a bump when she falls pregnant in Grounded. Margi Brown Ash shares her life story in Home, bouncing across several continents as actor, therapist, schoolgirl, soapie starlet, wife and mother. And Naomi Price transforms into pop star Adele in Rumour Has it – a Grammy goddess ready to spill her guts about the man who wronged her.

 

home_qtcseason2015

 

thesevenstagesofgrieving_qtcseason2015

grounded_qtcseason2015

happydays_qtcseason2015

 

Season 2015 Ticketing Details:

 

 

Subscriptions on sale from Monday, 29 September at 6pm via queenslandtheatre.com.au

 

 

Phone sales available from 9am Tuesday, 30 September by calling Freecall 1800 355 528 or in person at QTC 78 Montague Road, South Brisbane, 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.

 

 

 




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,188 other followers