24
Jul
17

Short+Sweet 2017

 

Short+Sweet – the biggest little play festival in the world!

Launch Event 

Brisbane Powerhouse

July 26 – August 5 2017

 

Attended by Claire Harding 

 

 

The Short + Sweet theatre and cabaret festival kicked off in style this week, with an interactive collage of contemporary theatre bites that was some of the most entertaining theatre I have had the pleasure of attending. A mixture of short stories and moving movement pieces, the audience was engaged at every turn.

 

 

It was exciting to see the return of old talent and new, including cabaret and musical extraordinaire Emily Vascotto, expertly accompanied by Ben Murry, bearing her soul recounting past love and heartbreak in The Confession, direct from Melbourne Fringe Festival (and directed by Gabriella Flowers). 

 

This theme ran strongly through the entire showcase, including Jamie Kedal and Gina Limpus’ exquisite physical theatre piece, The Attachment Theory, a beautifully choreographed work that is sexy and violent. The pair explored the three phases of attachment, from infatuation through to separation. This was followed by a two-hander featuring Hannah Belansky and Paige Poulier performing a female duologue, which comments on the social expectations of women, and contrasted starkly with the very politically incorrect comedy duo, The Foxy Morons, known for their performances at Queensland Cabaret Festival, showing us through the Aussie country culture, that they are not fans of Pauline Hanson, whom they describe as more vicious than a cassowary.

 

 

Another funny fierce force was life coach, Kaitlyn Rogers, a fitness fanatic who idolises Shannon Noel and Whoopie, which is exactly what she did to the audience. It’s entertaining with enough serious moving moments and issues, addressing political correctness, racism, love and relationships, to give the performance purpose and meaning.

 

The opening night show culminated with a performance from the winners of last year’s event, having developed their work into a full-length show. Written and performed by Caitlyn Hill and Peter Wood, Boys Taste better with Nutella, lived up to the hype, taking the audience on a journey of relationship ups and downs including asking where do we turn to for love? Nutella and the internet! Frederick aims to make himself feel better by gaining popularity and turns a pleasure and pastime into a business eating things for viewers, which is popular in Korea; a trend which has him questioning his relationship with food and body image as he receives backlash for his imperfections and ‘must be cute not fat’. A string of lights, which the actors jumped in and out of, creates the set and shifts the focus from outer to inner monologue, between past, present and future. This tempo, along with the sound tracks and dance pieces, drives the piece and keeps the audience wanting more, remaining true to its Short+Sweet theatrical conventions.

 

 

With a different line up each week, this amazing and entertaining competition is now a global event! With shows across Brisbane and the Gold Coast venues for the next 4 weeks, get along, you won’t be disappointed. 

19
Jul
17

Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse

Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse

Opera Queensland

QPAC Playhouse

July 14 – 29 2017

 

Reviewed by Geoff Waite

 

Being a life-long fan of Gilbert and Sullivan after my introduction to their wonderful operettas as a high school lad performing in Trial by Jury, The Pirates of Penzance, and HMS Pinafore, and in later years The Mikado, I was excited to be attending Opera Queensland’s production of Ruddigore. Perhaps one of the least-known Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Ruddigore has not often been performed here, so this was a welcome opportunity to enjoy it. And enjoy it I did.

 

While the original opening night of Ruddigore on 22 January 1887 was less than successful, after some modification it went on to be well accepted. Of all the G&S operettas, Gilbert later declared Ruddigore to be one of his three favourites, the others being Utopia and The Yeomen of the Guard.

 

 

In a satirical take on the Victorian Melodrama genre, Ruddigore’s farcical plot employs curses, witches, and disguises, and the intricacies of this bizarre and convoluted plot can be difficult to grasp.The Baronets of Ruddigore are subject to a terrible curse placed on them by a witch long ago – each of the successive Baronets must commit some kind of a crime every single day or they will die in terrible agony. Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, the Baronet of Ruddigore, has been living as a farmer, Robin Oakapple (Bryan Proberts), for years, working up the courage to ask a beautiful village maiden, Rose Maybud (Natalie Christie Peluso), for her hand. Rose is also keen on Robin but as a woman she is bound by the etiquette of the day and cannot tell him of her feelings. In the village in which they live, a group of professional bridesmaids who are desperate to officiate at a wedding, any wedding, none having been celebrated for six months, are encouraging this union. Robin, who was supposed to have died but has been hiding in disguise while his younger brother, Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Jason Barry Smith), assumed the title and the curse, is hiding the secret. His foster-brother, Richard Dauntless (Kanen Breen), a sailor, wins Rose’s ‘affection’ after undertaking to woo her on behalf of the timid Robin. Richard later reveals Robin’s existence to Despard, and Robin then must take his place and the responsibility of committing a crime every day in order to abide by the terms of the curse and continue to live. In the meantime, Mad Margaret (Christine Johnston) who has been driven to madness by her love for the lost Sir Despard Murgatroyd, has appeared and is reunited with Despard, who is now free.

 

 

In Ruddigore Castle, Robin (now Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd) has difficulty perpetrating suitably bad crimes, annoying his ancestors who emerge as ghosts from their portraits in the gallery to berate him. After complying with the direction of his uncle, Sir Roderic Murgatroyd (Andrew Collis) to abduct a lady from the village as a suitable crime, the lady abducted happens to be Dame Hannah (Roxane Hislop), Sir Roderic’s former love and fiancé. They are reunited in love. Robin then submits to Roderic that under the terms of the curse, a Baronet of Ruddigore can die only by refusing to commit a daily crime. Refusing would therefore basically lead to suicide, but suicide is itself, a crime. Thus he reasons, his predecessors “ought never to have died at all’. Roderic agrees with this logic and Robin is freed of the curse. All ends happily with the various couples together again.

 

 

From the light, bright opening, set in an outdoor tea-house by the sea and later in the dark depths of the Ruddigore Castle where the current cursed Baronet and his ancestors’ portraits dwell, the set (Richard Roberts) is nicely complemented by the lighting and effects of Andrew Meadows, giving a modern feel to a piece first performed in 1887, when one feels, the production would not have been so ‘light’. And a few modern terms thrown into the dialogue fit well. The emergence of the baronet ghosts from their portraits in the gallery is a special moment. The acting is tops and I particularly enjoyed the Frank Spencer-like attitude and reticence evident in Robin’s first encounter with Rose. As expected, the singing is exceptional, from leads and chorus alike, with The Queensland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Roland Peelman providing exhilarating accompaniment with Sullivan’s music.

 

 

This is a comedy and much of the credit for the expression and impact of Gilbert’s libretto is due to the Director, Lindy Hume and her assistant and Choreographer, Rosetta Cook. The portrayal of Despard Murgatroyd and Mad Margaret as Salvation Army officers touting timbrels on their return to normal life is classic. And the extension of those timbrels to the whole cast for a rousing timbrel- shaking finale made a fitting end to a most enjoyable show that you should see.

18
Jul
17

Wogs In Love

Wogs In Love

4Stage Productions

Judith Wright Centre Performance Space

July 6 – 14 2017

 

Reviewed by Claire Harding

 

Wogs_in_Love

 

Two star-crossed lovers from different backgrounds are destined to be together, but there’s problem… Anna’s father Niko.

 

Wogs in Love premiered at the Judith Wright Centre in Brisbane this month, the first offering by Brisbane playwright Greg Andreas. Originally written in 1986, it was lost and then rewritten for today’s audiences, which explains why it feels somewhat dated, although the topics of racism and assimilation into multicultural Australia are still relevant. It is the third offering by newly established Brisbane Theatre Company, 4 Stage Productions, and it’s an ambitious piece, which could have benefitted from further work to help refine and carve out the golden moments, as the actors seem to struggle to find the motivation for their characters. Given the general high standard of Brisbane theatre at the moment, this leaves the piece feeling less than the polished and professional product expected.

The story is centred around a Greek family who are struggling to come to terms with the loss of their culture in a modern Australian setting. The younger members feel constrained by their patriarchies expectations; that Greek is better and that they are expected to associate with, and in Anna’s case marry someone from their own culture before moving back to the idealised mother land. Anna (Melanie Bolovan) has other ideas and is in love with a ‘Skippy’ David (William Toft). Both performers bring their youthful energy to the piece. Anna’s father Nico (Colin Smith), despite his best efforts, is unable to change and allow his children to have control of their own destiny. His love for his homeland and his frustration at losing his traditions and control of his family, builds to a climactic racist rant against all other cultures.

There are humorous moments with Costa, Anna’s simpleton brother (Carl Figueiredo) and her mother (Katrina Devery), who had good comic timing and some funny asides to her family. David’s Australian parents (Andrea O’Halloran and Tony Nixon), were just as simplistic and racist towards anyone outside of their own ‘bogan’ culture, which added to both the comedy and tragedy of the piece.

Most of the laughs were for the silent Greek grandmother (Johansee Theron); a permanent fixture on the couch whose slight movements and observations throughout the piece made for some funny moments. However, the anticipation to hear her speak was dashed, as her musings were not as profound or impactful as expected, leaving the audience disappointed at a lacklustre conclusion.    

The costumes, setting and split staging invited the audience into the period and the character’s homes, but failed to capture the vibrancy of the time, and was confused by the addition of the 1950’s fridge. With further work, this production would improve, but in its current state, it’s an ambitious choice for a fledgling company who have had so much success until this point. Let’s see what they offer next. 

18
Jul
17

ONE DAY MORE to support Sunshine Coast and Brisbane artists dance (nearly) naked in Japan

 

In case you have been hiding under a rock, or unaware of our campaign, or ignoring all cries for help across our social media platforms, let me fill you in:

IN JUST 10 DAYS WE ARE DANCING (NEARLY) NAKED IN JAPAN

 

I’M EXCITED AND A LITTLE BIT SCARED

 

 

We are 10 students from the Master of Professional Practice in Performing Arts (MPP), an innovative postgraduate course offered for the first time in 2017 by the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), created by Zen Zen Zo’s Dr Lynne Bradley.

We have received an exclusive invitation to join Japan’s highly acclaimed butoh dance company, Dairakudakan, for 10 days in July-August during an intensive summer camp in Hakuba, Japan. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Australian artists to train and perform with butoh Master, Akaji Maro and an ensemble of 40 dancers.

We’d LOVE you to help if you can, to cover the cost of our travel and training.

We need your support to train and perform with Japan’s best butoh artists.

 

 

Renowned for their visually exotic, highly physical and confronting work about contemporary issues in an apocalyptic world, Dairakudakan dancers and Master butoh performer and director, Akaji Maro, will work with us over 9 days of intensive performance training before we join company members on stage in a culminating performance, choreographed and directed by Maro.

 

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity gives us access to contemporary Japanese training and performing that has evolved from a highly respected ancient art form, rarely seen or taught in Australia.

 

 

Your contribution will go towards the ensemble’s travel and training costs, helping to give 10 talented performing artists access to a unique international training and performance opportunity, and the chance to establish and nurture valuable relationships between Australian and Japanese performing artists so that future collaborative work can be considered.

 

Upon returning from this trip, at our own cost, members of the MPP Dairakudakan ensemble will continue training with Australia’s leading physical theatre company, Zen Zen Zo, and work collaboratively to create opportunities to share our knowledge and experience of butoh, Japan’s exquisite performance art, with Australian artists and audiences.

 

WE HAVE ONE DAY MORE OF OUR AUSTRALIAN CULTURAL FUND CAMPAIGN

 

18
Jul
17

Giveaway – win double passes to My Name Is Jimi

On Saturday night (July 22 at 7:30pm) be among the FIRST to witness Australia’s newest original story

My Name Is Jimi

 

  Sewngapa                  Ina Ngoelmun Gidha

(*Welcome)              (*This is our story)

 

 

 

 

Directed by Jason Klarwein and featuring Dmitri Ahwang-Bani, Agnes Bani, Conwell Bani, Jimi Bani, Petharie Bani and Richard BaniMy Name is Jimi opened in Cairns this week, celebrating its page-to-stage finale and World Premiere close to its heartland.

 

Based on the true stories of four generations by Dimple Bani, Jimi Bani, and co-created with Jason Klarwein.

 

 

 

For your chance to see My Name Is Jimi on Saturday July 22 at 7:30pm

 

LIKE XS Entertainment on Facebook

 

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If you tweet, go ahead and follow us on Twitter too…

 

and tell us below or on XS Entertainment’s Facebook page why you’d like to be among the first to hear this original story.

 

In My Name is Jimi, charismatic actor and storyteller Jimi Bani (Mabo, The Straits, Redfern Now) finally tells his story, and that of his family and his place of home – Mabuiag Island, a remote speck in the sparkling blue of the Torres Strait and the keeper of thousands of years of rich history and culture. Now, with just a few hundred people fanning its flame, the story, colour, characters, challenges and history of the Wagadagam culture come to the stage in what is a truly memorable live theatre experience.

It unfolds through music, dance, stand-up and fireside storytelling, with four remarkable generations of one family on the stage – Jimi’s grandmother, mother, son and brothers come together to share incredible yarns of totems, traditions and childhood memories. On stage it is a true celebration – Jimi performs alongside his son Dmitri, mother Agnes, and grandmother Petharie with his brothers Conwell and Richard Bani.

Drawing directly on the lived experiences of the Bani family and their role as leaders of the Wagadagam tribe of Mabuiag Island, the stories span the generations – Jimi jokes in three languages with his grandmother, and then tortures his son with spontaneous break-dancing.  It’s an Australian story, and a world story of family and preserving the culture and language of Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait.

 

 

Co-creator Jason Klarwein sets the scene best: “The story actually began with Ahdi Dimple Bani, Jimi’s father the 8th Chief of Wagadagam in European recorded history. He passed away during the creating of this play, with Jimi now the bastion of the story, the new keeper of the chord of Wagadagam culture and soon, the 9th Chief.”

“I cannot really recall a play like My Name is Jimi. Sure there are works it can be related to, but what audiences will see, experience, feel and celebrate on stage is only a sliver of what is happening culturally within this extraordinary family. It is truly a unique theatrical experience.”

He said the ability for this family to bridge generational and cultural timelines was constantly surprising.

“Sometimes, when rehearsal pauses, out of the corner of my eye I see 15 year old Dmitri Ahwang-Bani (Jimi’s son) put his iPhone down and learn dance or language from his uncles, his grandmother or great-grandmother. I watch the tangible passing of language and culture from several generations to another. I watch this boy, who will soon be a man, grapple with Instagram and cultural lore simultaneously. Like the two things were made to be together.”

 

 

My Name is Jimi is dedicated to the memory of Adhi Dimple Bani and those that came before.

*Koeyma Esso (many thanks).

 

*This is the Kala Lagaw Ya language of Mabuiag Island

 

 

13
Jul
17

Pocketful of Pebbles

Pocketful of Pebbles

The Arts Centre, Gold Coast & White Rabbit Theatre Ensemble

The Arts Centre, Gold Coast

July 6 – 7 2017

 

Reviewed by Claire Harding

 

 

 

Aspiring, as all good fairy tales should, to teach children a moral, Pocketful of Pebbles delivered an important message to its family holiday audience at The Arts Centre, Gold Coast…

 

Stories can only exist when they are shared.

 

A funny and entertaining show with a darker edge, the collaborators on this unique project drew inspiration from traditional folk and fairy tale traditions that didn’t shy away from reminding younger audiences that life is not always sunny. Co-written by White Rabbit Theatre’s Lisa Smith (Playwright, Director, Producer and last minute Actor), Victoria Carless (Playwright The Grand, 2015 and Novelist The Dream Walker, 2017) and Tammy Weller (Playwright and Actor), show us that before Disney, not all good stories ended in happily ever after.

 

 

 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. This tension is juxtaposed with a whimsical delivery of stock characters and Puppets, such as the main character Mr Phoenix; a giant Phoenix bird designed by Graeme Haddon (Director of Puppetry for The Wiggles and Jim Henson’s Farscape). He is a humorous bird whom, with his companions, delivers some great commentary and witty one liners, which keep the adults just as entertained as the kids.

 

 

Performers, including Puppeteer Master Anna Straker, with Zachary Boulton and Louise Brehmer, had three short weeks to prepare and master their puppeteering techniques. Each actor plays many different characters, giving this simple production a much grander feel. The script doesn’t shy away from villainous characters or scary situations, but skilfully uses humour to ensure that the play remains light-hearted and fun, including the inclusion of sock puppet twins, Detectives Burp and Fart. The use of audience interaction, stylised movement and sound effects, give the piece a cartoonish feel, without slipping over into the pantomime realm.

 

 

Three traditional stories are skilfully woven together through the narration of Mr Phoenix, who is a magical storytelling bird played by the gracious Brehmer. Mr Phoenix’s comedic commentary is reminiscent of the Grumpy Old Men on The Muppet Show. A bird who is destined to be born again but just wants to die, his morose complaining, used to add humour, drive the story and break the fourth wall, reminding the audience that they are just watching a silly story. The minimalist setting is engaging for the audience as it invites us to fill in the blanks and use our imagination, further investing in the reality skilfully created by White Rabbit Theatre Ensemble.

 

 

A year in the making, Pocketful of Pebbles is a unique, dark and funny tale that delivers a positive message as Mr Phoenix challenges the audience to become the keepers of the stories so that the stories live on, and storytelling traditions be continued. A very entertaining and, at times, moving piece of family theatre. A too-short season on the Gold Coast means we can only hope that this touring production makes its way to a theatre near you.

 

06
Jul
17

RICE

Rice

Queensland Theatre

Queensland Theatre Bille Brown Studio

June 24 – July 16 2017

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

Tini biyoyer sathei aasen. She moves with victory. Tini biyoyer sathei aasen. She moves…

Rice is the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award winner (2016), a slick and sophisticated two-hander about women, ambition, power, partnerships, love, loss, loyalty, forgiveness and family. Melbourne’s Michele Lee says, “Initially I said Rice was about a plethora of ‘big’ contemporary issues. As if I was some Michael Moore of theatre. Mass agriculture. Super economies. Mercenary corporations. Women in business. Rice is about these things. But it’s partly, primarily, about two women searching for new friendships and new intimacies, new versions of family, however fleeting.”

Lee’s writing is refreshingly real; her characters are recognisable and relatable. The dialogue is fast, funny, and unapologetically localised, a delight for Brisbane audiences, peppered with references to familiar places. Leading ladies, Kirsty Best (Nisha) and Hsiao-Ling Tang (Yvette) also play the incidental characters who come in and out of their lives, including the boss, the boyfriend, the bogan, an Indian widow, a nephew, a daughter… The first of these transitions is a little uncertain but once established, these switches work well, making this play a tidy little touring number. 

Renee Mulder’s sleek, white minimal corporate office set and Jason Glenwright’s bright, spare lighting keep the focus on the performers, who step into a natural rhythm that allows them an easy banter and yet, appropriately uncomfortable silences at times to underpin a few home truths about the world views of the Indian Princess and the Chinese Cleaner.

This is the part of the story where I tell you about an Indian princess.

Nisha (Indian Princess) is a typical young thing in a navy suit who knows everything, until it’s revealed that she doesn’t. Both her undoing and the making of her is her ability to see things for what they really are. Yvette is the Chinese Cleaner who has been bettered all her immigrant life by others, including extended family members. She continues to struggle to maintain a civil relationship with her daughter. Both women have a clear picture of where they’d like to be and they think they know how they’ll get there. But life – a death, a flood, a legal battle – gets in the way and other things along the way become important again.

This is the part where we eat.

There is a delicate balance in the writing between the vulnerability and intimacy of the women’s working relationship and the apparently unavoidable distance – a chasm, in this life at least – between them. This is beautifully measured in the performances when the women are playing their main roles.

Director, Griffin Theatre’s Lee Lewis, has created on the 20th floor of Nisha’s inner city office building, a microcosm of contemporary society, placing the personal worlds of the women squarely inside the bigger global picture. They can’t escape or dismiss the personal. They can’t ignore a connection with another human being and continue to complain about not being noticed or supported…or deeply affected. The women must always, in some small way, be there for each other.

Great theatre allows us to see ourselves in the story. Lee’s universal story of connection, shared via a personal, local lens, doesn’t condescend or compromise or get in its own way.

Its humour, insight and wonderfully engaging personable performances make Rice a lovely easy play to watch. The challenge is in walking away and making the tiny daily changes to the way we do things. Because we can. And we must; ignorance is no longer an excuse for the ill treatment of people in our immediate circles (or outside of them). Was it ever? How often do we consider the way we go about our day? How do we speak to our loved ones, our colleagues, strangers and friends we haven’t met yet? How do we choose to respond to others? How do we choose to treat others, in business and in life? On the train? At the checkout? In our homes and schools and offices? In the street? Can we go forward now, into every situation, with genuine curiosity, dignity and compassion? Can we just take a breath, half a moment, before uttering anything aloud or online to consider the impact it might have on a person? And how far, really, is too far out of our way to give a person a lift home?

Through the strong, vulnerable, wonderful women of Rice Michele Lee asks these vital questions with the utmost respect, and with greater wit and good humour than most.

This is the part where we go.