WTF Wrap Up: Week 1

Well, I haven’t been at Brisbane Powerhouse ALL week but I’ve seen some awesome shows that I have to quickly mention before I get back to finishing writing the reviews…

In case you didn’t realise, the World Theatre Festival is THE most incredible time and place to


a) experience theatre from all over the world


b) meet artists, theatre makers and theatre lovers from all over the world


c) relax and unwind over a vino, enjoy a meal, and discuss theatre and theatre making with like-minded peeps from all over the world



PARAH (The Instant Cafe Theatre, Malaysia) is delivered in Bahasa with English surtitles. Surtitles are certainly not a new phenomenon (in last year’s program three shows used surtitles), but for some, there’s an additional challenge in dividing one’s attention between the actors and the surtitles above them. Like anything, one’s ability to read the surtitles and “read” the action improves with practice. Following the Q&A after the show, Sam made a very good point in questioning whether or not there had been any consideration of showing the play a couple of times without surtitles. You know, like you choose whether or not you want to see a movie in 3D. I’d love to see international works delivered both ways, once with surtitles and a second time without. How different those readings might be.

I loved the power of Parah, and I admire the playwright’s exceptional skills; he is a gifted writer and a keen observer of human connectivity (not all writers are, though they will claim that it is indeed human connectivity or the human spirit that they have written about!). There is nothing missing from PARAH, no loose ends, nothing to not get. Beautifully, sensitively shaped, this has been a stand-out. It could be a story from anywhere at all, our own story; it’s a universal truth and a quiet, confident call to action, using young people and age-old issues to stir in us a revolutionary rumble.



A Doll House

A DOLL HOUSE (Pan Pan, Ireland) is a contemporary re-staging of a classic play that has always sent shockwaves through conservative, parochial societies. This version did not affect me the way I had expected it to. I didn’t love it (I thought I would love it), but I was caught up in it and I could see what it was the company was trying to do. It just didn’t get to me, it didn’t feel complete or controlled enough, and when I wanted to love or hate a character, I found I didn’t feel very strongly, either way, about them. I’m sure that many others, for the same reasons, have adored this new production.



The Economist

THE ECONOMIST (MKA Theatre of New Writing, Melbourne), on the other hand, has had a profound effect on me. I feel strangely – inexplicably – protective of the subject matter, and the fact that it’s not a Norwegian company who is tackling this story for the first time irks me. On the other hand, it’s such a horrifying true story, which happened so recently, I feel like it must be time that somebody looked at telling a version of it, and thank goodness it wasn’t a Norwegian group! It would be too hard to take. What MKA have done is to present individual puzzle pieces as anecdotes and scenes with sub-headings that, thankfully, don’t attempt to explain or justify the actions of a killer. It’s creepy, disturbing and challenging, but it’s not completely frightening. I was surprised and relieved to find at no point did I need to wipe away tears. When I realised this, because I cry so easily, I felt like the structure and the theatrical devices had duped me into feeling unaffected, but of course we are never unaffected, we are simply able to walk out of the theatre, back into our own safe lives, and into the arms of loved ones.



White Rabbit Red Rabbit

WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT (By Nassim Soleimanpour, Iran) trumps A Doll House for the strangest work I’ve seen so far at this year’s festival. I loved it. This is an incredibly clever piece of theatre that is unlike anything you’ve seen, except perhaps if you had the good fortune to see QTC’s An Oak Tree, which not dissimilarly, used a different actor each night. The actor is unprepared and, in the case of White Rabbit Red Rabbit, begins reading the script only when it is handed to them on stage in front of the audience. The writer, Nassim, has written TO the actor, and TO the audience, both instructions and text that must be spoken, so that his story may be shared all over the world. We had the great privilege of meeting Nassim (and our lovely actor, Luisa Hastings), after the performance during a Q&A session. More on that experience in the review. With its metaphorical story, its audience participation, its quirky form and surprising ending, White Rabbit Red Rabbit might well be the popular favourite at this year’s WTF!



Ikatan Balinese Day Spa

I should tell you that on Saturday, following the performance of Parah, and a spectacular dinner of seafood and tapas downstairs with beautiful friends, Sam and I shot off to QPAC’s Cremorne Theatre to catch The Pitch & The China Incident so those reviews are also COMING SOON! In the meantime, I’m teaching at MFAC again tomorrow, sending some lucky winners to The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain tomorrow night, and psyching up for the week – another massive one – that sees us at La Boite’s Education Launch on Tuesday night, back at the Powerhouse for the Gob Squad’s Kitchen on Wednesday night, back at La Boite for Holding the Man on Thursday night, in Mooloolaba for The Pirate Show on Friday night (note to self: learn lyrics between now and sound check!), and the Powerhouse again for I Heart Alice Heart I & The Last Supper on Sunday. Phew!



Do you know what I’m really looking forward to after that? Sleep! (Possibly sometime in April!), and some glorious time out on Saturday at  Ikatan! A little bit of Bali in Noosa, it’s just what I need, between WTF and the madness of March! Bring on the Coco-luciousness!



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