Archive for the 'Noosa Longweekend' Category

29
Mar
13

Infinite Space & Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013

Sunshine Coast Council Theatre Season Launch 2013

 

 

A rather late launch in March, yes, on the Thursday leading into the Easter weekend, a Thursday known as Maundy Thursday, a fact I know due to my Lutheran schooling. OUR TWENTY-YEAR SCHOOL REUNION IS COMING UP! WTF? And did I miss the ten-year get together then? I don’t remember putting in an appearance. I only see school friends on Facebook. Can I tell them I invented Post-Its? Oh. No. It’s been done.

 

 

 

So at my Lutheran school, I sang on Maundy Thursday in Chapel, “They crucified my Lord and he never said a mumblin’ word…” That’s right. Every year I have that top soprano line in my head and only one of seven or something verses… “Not a word, not a word, not a word.” Funny the things you remember.

 

Jack_Charles-420x0

This was indeed a late-in-the-year launch, for a season of Sunshine Coast entertainment that has well and truly begun, across the three Council run venues, Lake Kawana Community Centre, The J in Noosa, and Nambour Civic Centre, the venue for the launch. Hmmm.

 

The Nambour Civic Centre is a little like Twelfth Night Theatre in Brisbane. The last time I was there, only recently actually, to see SPANK! The Fifty Shades Parody, the best thing about the place was Stephen Mahey (needless to say, I’m excited to see him next as Kenickie!). Nambour desperately needs some love too. While the foyer is fairly open and inviting, with easy box office and bar access, it’s a shocking performance space, especially for dancers, and more importantly, for audiences.

 

I was sure I’d heard a rumour last year that a second lot of tiered seating was to come. Well, it hasn’t come yet! Tip for the punters: Don’t book floor seats at Nambour. Ask to be seated in the raked seating, from about 4 rows back or miss the entirety of any floor work. We were in row AA, the first of the raked seating, and missed most of it. (Don’t be fooled by thinking that the closer you are to this stage the better vantage point you’ll get. What you’ll get is a crookneck!).

 

afgroup-0021The launch event was held in the foyer by the bar, with drinks and too-hard-to-handle canapés laid on. I never take for granted good catering, with teeny tiny neat morsels, masses of serviettes and constant attention from the staff so there is no awkwardness or mess. While the staff did their utmost, they had little chance of winning and I dread to think how many super-size-me Malay chicken sticks and deep-fried meatballs (or were they arrancini balls?) were wasted because they were simply too large to eat while standing and talking with a drink in hand. It’s a practical decision, which has little, if anything, to do with the fact that you may or may not turn up hungry to these sorts of events. Thank goodness Poppy and I had already enjoyed wild rice and Catalan stew at home.

 

The launch was short and sweet, with technology allowing us a sneak peak at the entire season of Sunshine Coast Council’s entertainment program, including theatre, dance, music, comedy and children’s entertainment. I know that Sunshine Coast peeps had better be booking early for a heap of these shows – it’s a great selection – and my tip is that if you get organised you can possibly halve your trips to Brisbane this year. And introduce some new friends and family members to the joy of live theatre. My picks are Animal Farm, Art, Jack Charles, Daniel Gartrell, R & J, Giselle, The Ten Tenors, and the Melbourne International Comedy Roadshow.  The kids should definitely get to Flipside Circus, Fluff, Possum Magic and The Wiggles. But wait! THERE’S A WIGGLES’ WOMAN NOW?! #forserious #whatofit

 

Infinite_Space

Following the launch, we were invited to attend Melbourne Ballet Company’s Infinite Space, comprising four separate pieces, choreographed by Resident Choreographer, Simon Hoy (and Robert Kelly, Co-Choreographer of In One Day). The highlight was seeing Alexander Bryce on a Sunshine Coast stage again, and I wondered why the names of the artists did not appear anywhere. An oversight? Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance members had to ask me, “Who IS that?!” because of course they were able to recognise him but couldn’t place him without a name to put to that familiar face and form. Bryce commands attention and I think we’ll see him moving well beyond Melbourne Ballet Company.

 

Poppy’s definitive comment following the first piece, In One Day was, “It was about relationships.” And while I agree absolutely with her, because I saw masculine-feminine struggles, relationships, image, identity, sexuality, insecurity, manipulation and bullying, apparently we were waaay off the mark and it’s actually a work that “celebrates physicality and athleticism” and was created to “pay tribute to the city of Melbourne.” Well! Okay. But I have to tell you that the main homage appeared to be to the likes of Material Girl Madonna and Gaultier (I even thought of the original, disturbing The Beauty Myth book cover!), in dance gear that was nude ruched satin pin-up booty pants and tops. I know, I know, it’s a slight nod that I’ve taken to be total inspiration. Totally not the case. It’s just where my head goes. This garb is pretty plain in comparison. Simple. Functional. A little bit fun and shiny. And absolutely beautiful. It’s a pity we didn’t see more of the dancers, as they moved in and out of shadows that may or may not have been intentional…

 

150082_10150313114010506_5357135_n

Because I hadn’t been asked to review the show, because Poppy hasn’t been 100% this week, and because we have a massive weekend planned, we left after In One Day. The work that I’d really hoped to see (Infinite Space) was the final one of the night and sadly, I realised that we’d be missing it.

 

The Sunshine Coast is such a strange place for entertainment. We do festivals exceptionally well, particularly in Noosa. It was such a joy to spend the evening with our gorgeous friends, Trena and Murray. Trena is the publicist extraordinaire for Noosa Longweekend (and at least ten or eleven other fabulous clients), and in speaking with her, I realised that we are about to be flung head first into our crazy festival season. I knew it was creeping up on us but OMG HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS PEOPLE! As well as Woodford Folk Festival each year, we have Floating Land, Noosa International Food and Wine Festival, Noosa Longweekend, Noosa Jazz Festival and before any of that, we’re celebrating on Sunday at the Ocean Street World Festival! Everybody goes to the festivals. To get people in through the theatre doors is another matter entirely. But now there’s no excuse not to go more often to the theatres, is there?!

 

There’s some great stuff being offered in the council venues this year and it’s not just the shows I’m talking about. Check out the workshops, film festivals, and special events too. It’s easy to connect with the arts/venues arm of Council, via their Sunshine Coast Venues and Events website and Facebook pages. You can also subscribe to the e-newsletters so you’ll never miss a one-night-only show again. With the Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance season, professional touring productions, fabulous dinner theatre, dance events and all of those festivals, there is literally TOO MUCH TO DO HERE! GET AMONGST IT! And if you stayed to see the rest of the show after Interval tonight, do let me know your thoughts!

 

 

21
Dec
12

The 10th Annual Australian Cabaret Showcase Finalists Announced!

cabaret showcase
Following preliminary heats in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales Monday December 17 through Wednesday December 19, the 10th Annual Cabaret Showcase announced today, the full lineup of 12 outstanding cabaret finalists from across Australia who will compete at a sizzling grand final this Saturday December 22 at The Basement, Sydney.

This year’s winner will receive the biggest prize package in Showcase history…

 

including the opportunity to perform a newly devised solo show at The Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Ballarat Cabaret Festivals, The Noosa Longweekend Festival and in New York at The New York Musical Theatre Festival, all with flights and  accommodation!

The Ron and Margaret Dobell Foundation will once again provide a cash prize of $1000, as well as providing travel and accommodation for the New York journey. The winner will also receive a photographic and design package courtesy of Blueprint Studios, plus publicity for their tour courtesy of I.P Publicity.

In a first for the Showcase and with the generous support of The Ron and Margaret Dobell Foundation, this year will see 3 acts traveling to Sydney after being selected at the recent Melbourne heats. Thanks to the Noosa Longweekend Festival we also are pleased to be including the first inaugural winner of Queensland heats in the Sydney Grand Final lineup.

 

AND THE GRAND FINALISTS ARE…

 

From Sydney –

Melody Beck

Natalie Carboni

Mara Davis

Daniel Downing

Kerrie Anne Greenland

Amelia Ryan

Maryann Wright

 

From Melbourne –

Karin Danger
Emma Clair Ford

Andrew Strano and Loclan Mackenzie-Spencer

 

and from Brisbane –

Bradley McCaw

cabaret showcase

 

 Judges for the 2012 Showcase Grand Final will include; Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Festival Centre Producer Torben Brookman, Noosa Long Weekend Festival Artistic Director Ian MacKellar, Co-Artistic Director of the Melbourne Cabaret Festival David Read, Chairman of the Board Ron Dobell, Co-Artistic Director of The Ballarat Cabaret Festival Sean GunnTheatrical Agent and Showcase Founder Emeritus Les Solomon, and the General Manager of The New York Musical Theatre Festival and Executive Producer of The Australian Cabaret Showcase Jeremy Youett.

 

Hosted by previous Showcase winners Nick Christo and Sheridan Harbridge, the evening will also include guest performances by winner of the first annual Showcase James Millar, prior to his upcoming West End engagement, last years winner Angela Harding and 2010 winner Toby Francis, with resident Showcase Musical Director Mark Chamberlain at the piano.

Book now to witness the next generation of Australia’s cabaret stars!!

The 10th Annual Australian Cabaret Showcase GRAND FINAL

The Basement

7 Macquarie Place, Sydney NSW

For Dining Options: www.thebasement.com.au or phone 02 9251 2797

Saturday – Dec 22

8pm (Doors open at 7pm)

BOOKINGS


Advance bookings, all tickets General Admission $40, or $45 at the door

Moshtix | www.moshtix.com.au | Ph: 1300 438 849

Angela Harding
ANGELA HARDING, SYDNEY SHOW
TONIGHT ONLY!

Festival Prize winner at the 9th Annual Australian Cabaret Showcase, Angela Harding gets ready to wow Sydney audiences tonight! 

As a result of her win at The 9th Annual Australian Cabaret Showcase, Harding scored a fully produced Australian tour of her original solo show, with an invitation to perform at some of Australia’s biggest music festivals$1000 cash prize and a photographic and design package.


Now it’s time for Sydney audiences to catch Australia’s newest cabaret sensation…
 
Harding explores the highs and lows of employment, marriage and school days while unlocking a vault of well-kept secrets in Just Like You…Only Different! 

Musical Director: Mark Chamberlain



IN SYDNEY TONIGHT
For 1 Night Only!

Friday 21st December
7pm


El Roccos (Bar Me)
154 Brougham Street,
Kings Cross NSW 
CLICK HERE TO BOOK NOW
or 
1300 GET TIX (438 849)
Thanks to our Major Festival Partners, we’re able to offer this year’s Showcase winner the biggest prize package in our 10 year history!
Check them out below and see what they have planned for their respective 2013 seasons…
2012 Cabaret Showcase
 
16
Dec
12

The 10th Annual Australian Showcase…in Noosa!

 

 

 

cabaret showcase

 

 

For the first time a heat will be held in Queensland for

The 10th Annual Australian Cabaret Showcase.

 

Jim Berardo’s sophisticated restaurant and bar on Hastings Street in Noosa, is the fine dining venue for the event, which has been sold out since the announcement of the heat! The Noosa crowd don’t miss much!

Your Enterprises’ Jeremy Youett has teamed up with local entertainment master mind, Manager of the Noosa Longweekend, Ian MacKellar, and Jim Berardo to create a one-of-a-kind cabaret evening.

The nine Sunshine Coast entrants include the dazzling Rachael Ward, fresh from her starring role in Chicago on board the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas and Adam Flower, who’s been laying low but whom you may remember from our production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which we staged in a warehouse in Kawana in 1999 and broke all Sunshine Coast box office records with Adam in the title role. It’s great to see him back on the circuit. IT WAS TIME.

Rachael Ward Chicago Allure of the Seas

With well-known local piano man, Simon Russell-Baker on the keys, and a dinner menu to make your mouth water, this is an exquisite night of entertainment that most of us will miss this time. And I would have told you about it earlier but there has been SO MUCH HAPPENING. That’s right. Real life has had to take precedence. There will be intermittent posts right up until late January, when we’ll LAUNCH THE WEBSITE. I KNOW.

It’s been a long time coming.

I’ll try to blog from Woodfordia (come see us at The Mystery Bus!), and if you don’t want to miss anything in the meantime

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK.

If you managed to secure a ticket to the 10th Annual Australian Cabaret Showcase in Noosa, enjoy a sophisticated and entertaining evening, hosted by Sam Coward and featuring some of our best new (and returning) talent!

Jeremy Youett Blueprint Studios

Jeremy Youett. Image by Blueprint Studios.

“Despite the challenges of continuing to produce the event when I’m based overseas, the Showcase is something I continue to develop because I strongly believe in it as a platform for developing and supporting Australian talent and the art form… I’m excited to say that we have just confirmed that we will launch heats in Adelaide for the first time in 2013 for the 11th Annual Showcase, with the support of The Adelaide Cabaret Festival and Artistic Director Kate Ceberano.”

Jeremy Youett, Producer of the Australian Annual Cabaret Showcase and General Manager of the New York Musical Theatre Festival

Winner of last year’s comp, Angela Harding, will perform her original cabaret show Just Like You…Only Different (MD Mark Chamberlain) on Friday 21st December at El Rocco’s (Bar Me) in Sydney

30
Nov
12

Auditions: XS, SRT & Free Spirit Entertainment!

 

   

 

XS Entertainment

Suncoast Repertory Theatre

Free Spirit Entertainment

 

are holding combined open auditions

for their 2013-2014 projects

 

Saturdy 15th December 2012

Times available from 10am – 2pm

 

@ Embody Performing Arts in Nambour

 

ACTING AUDITIONS – please prepare a 2 minute monologue

 

DANCE AUDITIONS – please prepare a 2 minute routine

 

SINGING AUDITIONS – please prepare a 2 minute song

 

*You can audition for all 3 if you wish, only one audition time will be required.

 

You may be required to attend a call back at 2:30pm, which will be an open group call back.

We are looking for strong individual performers who are happy to work closely with a fantastic team. 

 

 

To arrange an audition please email –

sam@xsentertainment.com.au

The actual address is 3/131 Currie Street but you access the studio via Howard Street. Turn into the driveway beside the white wall on Howard Street. Embody is in the same building as Civic Video……. 

if all else fails call Sam 0402461062

 

17
Jun
12

2012 National One-Act Playwriting Festival Results

CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of this year’s One-Act Play Festival!

(the finalists of the National One-Act Playwriting Competition)

Congratulations to Brisbane playwright Debra Chalmers on taking out top honours in this year’s National One-Act Playwriting Competition, winning $3000 sponsored by Macquarie Private Wealth, with her comedy, Here’s The Thing.

Debra also won the Audience Choice Award and a Publishing contract with Maverick Musicals.

Here’s the Thing is Debra’s second play!

Winning Playwright Debra Chalmers

It should be noted that without the long-term support of Macquarie and Maverick Musicals, this competition would not be what it is. Thanks must also go to long-time supporter and a major force behind the continuation and evolution of the festival, Synda Turnbull (has Synda been made a Noosa Arts Theatre Life Member yet? IT’S TIME!), to the reading panels, the guest adjudicators and all of the wonderful Noosa Arts Theatre and Noosa Longweekend volunteers.

Cast of the winning play in the National One-Act Playwriting Competition Here’s the Thing by Debra Chalmers
Best Actress (centre) Jodie Bushby

Hugh O’Brien – 2nd place ($2000) Three Angry Brides

Rainee Skinner – 3rd Place ($1000) Boy in the Cardboard Box.

Sue Clapham – Best Director (Boy in the Cardboard Box)

Stephen Moore – Best Actor (Boy in the Cardboard Box)

Jodie Bushby – Best Actress (Here’s the Thing)

3rd Place: Boy in the Cardboard Box by Rainee Skinner
Best Actor (right) Stephen Moore. Adjudicator’s Award (left) Gail Evans).

Adjudicator’s Awards (special mentions) to Nathan Hynes and Gail Evans.

2nd Place: Three Angry Brides by Hugh O’Brien
Adjudicator’s Award Nathan Hynes

11
Jun
12

The Truth About Kookaburras

The Truth About Kookaburras

La Boite Indie & Pentimento Productions

The Roundhouse

6th – 23rd June 2012

On Saturday night, the men in the audience at The Roundhouse far outnumbered the women. Had they seen The Truth About Kookaburras at Metro Arts in 2009? Had they heard about it? What had they heard? I’d heard that there would be many naked men on stage but that the play “isn’t about the nudity”. It’s about a murder that occurs during a buck’s party, held in the locker room of the Gold Coast Kookaburras Football Club and the mystery of “what it is to be a man”.

I daresay I’ll be the only person in the world to feel this way about this incredible play. Or perhaps I’ll be the only one to say so. You see, it’s absolutely brilliant. But it’s not quite there yet. It seems it’s esteemed playwright, Edward-Who’s-Afraid-of-Virginia-Woolf-Albee, who is to blame for the issues I have with this, the first production of La Boite’s Indie program for 2012, Sven Swenson’s re-worked epic, The Truth About Kookaburras.

Apparently, when workshopping the play with Albee, Swenson was advised, “Never permit it to be done without nudity. Don’t allow yourself to be talked into cleaving it into two acts. Don’t ever shorten it. Don’t become convinced to amalgamate roles and reduce the cast.”

Let’s look at these pearls of wisdom, shall we?

Nudity

The play opens on an empty locker room at the Gold Coast Kookaburras headquarters, which gradually fills with naked men. And by fills, I mean that there are enough of them to literally fill the small space that is the La Boite Indie stage. The play would work better in the round (or in Jupiter’s Casino) but that means – surely – another creative development phase before it earns a mainstage season. It’s an indulgent but rather clever, multi-layered text that you can read yourself, thanks to Playlab’s new digital publication series (Playab Indie).

For fifteen minutes, naked men appear from out of the showers, one after the other after the other and we look at – or try not to look at – the many, many flaccid penises on stage. It’s not a pretty sight. Sorry, boys but it’s not. Swenson recently told Zenobia Frost, in an interview for RAVE magazine that he believes “the most compelling and arresting visual image of masculinity is surely an army of naked men.” Perhaps it is…if that army of naked men is as ripped as QTC’s Romeo and Juliet boys were (credit where credit’s due) and their members stand as erect as the men themselves, sure. But try putting an erect penis on a Queensland stage. Twenty-two of them in fact. And for fifteen minutes! In this case, the “army” more closely resembles a sad, impotent, insecure gang of little boys who need to perform dick tricks and indulge in gratuitous antics to prove their (false) bravado to the fellas who are supposed to be their “mates”.

The Truth About Kookaburras

Image by Kate O’Sullivan.

And I’m sorry but I don’t get the penis humour. I don’t understand the culture of the male locker room. I know that there’s a demographic in every city who do appreciate this brand of comedy – I used to sell cigarettes to them in dodgy clubs and pubs – but personally, I’ve never understood how people can speak to each other the way that these guys do, with so little regard for another person’s feelings. What does it prove? What sort of man is it that treats a person so appallingly? I can see that we’re trying to understand men and their insecurities. I can see that it takes time to establish the confusion and complexities of being a man. We don’t often talk openly about the way men fit into the world and clearly we need to. But is this play the vehicle for it? Will it reach enough people? Would it work better as a screenplay? Would it get closer to the truth if it were Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman discussing the big issues on the big screen? (Well, of course it would!). Does it really get us any closer to, “What it is to be a man”? As it is, it certainly gets us talking so perhaps, on that point alone, it serves a valuable purpose and the potential to take it to the broader market will be recognised eventually.

It certainly reveals more than you might expect but if it’s really just the full frontal nudity you’re after, I think your money might be better spent on a night with the Chippendales or on some of the better Internet porn sites. (Trekkie Monster was right all along!).

For me, Kookaburras contains too much nudity for too long without good reason. It doesn’t last long enough “for people to realise what a big deal it isn’t,” it lasts long enough to be ineffective dramatically. It loses impact. The dick tricks, the narcissistic mirror play (do let me know if all that mirror acting works for you), the play fights and the real fights are quite simply uninteresting after the first six or seven minutes. (That’s not to say that the simulated footy, choreographed by Brian Lucas and the fight sequences, choreographed by Justin Palazzo-Orr are lacking in any way. They just need more space to make them look spectacular). And while I appreciate that there has been some research done and that conversations with legitimate footballers have taken place, I find it hard to believe that there is not even a modicum of modesty amongst this group, who are not, as we discover, all that they seem. So many characters and so little, when they are naked, to differentiate one from another; I would just like to have seen the extent of male nudity be used to better effect than to try to prove a political point.

On that (political point), I was surprised to see later, the female stripper do her thing…topless. Only topless. Now, I know this play is not about her (far be it from the stripper to become a distraction in the midst of all that male soul-searching) and I know Swenson feels that women and not men have been made to get their gear off in plays for too long (“He didn’t think that was fair.”) but I think an entire truth was missed there. Again, dramatically, it was an interesting choice. “Perhaps having more male nudity on stage might legitimise the relative frequency with which we ask it of women.” No, Sven, the authenticity of the story telling and the believability of the acting within the context of whatever story is being told is what legitimises female nudity in the theatre.

Warning: shameless self-promotion.

For a case in point, if it interests you (call it “research”), see Erotique at Noosa Arts Theatre during the Noosa Longweekend, in which nudity is not gratuitously used but, within the context of the story telling, becomes a vital element, both in character and plot development. Right. Shameless self-promotion over. Back to Kookaburras, which is not even about the nudity but phew! What a relief it is to see everybody dressed! “We see much more clearly who each character is once they are dressed and wearing the garb that identifies them to the outside world.” True. The stellar performances in the end come from Cameron Sowden (Mick), Jason McKell (Two-Shoes), Zachary Boulton (Goony) and Kieran Law (Toaster). You can read the complete biographies of all cast members by downloading the online program.

Jason McKell. Image by Kate O’Sullivan.

Don’t allow yourself to be talked into cleaving it into two acts. Don’t ever shorten it.

Mr Albee, why would you say that?! The play is too long! Act 2 is superfluous and once the premise has been established during the opening fifteen minutes of the play, it is reinforced ad nauseam for the next fifty! Seriously, an hour of swinging dicks and putting down mates is too long! With a more concise story, the police investigation incorporated as it is – a clever device and less of it would work even more efficiently – one interval would suffice.

When we were in Sydney in 2011 for the Sydney Children’s Festival, I booked tickets and took our troupe to see Darlinghurst Theatre Company’s production of Alex Broun’s 10 000 Beers, directed by Lee Lewis (Director of La Boite’s last production, A Hoax). Other than my husband, who grew up in a sports-mad household, none of us even knew which code we were about to see. Football is football is football, right? That’s right. Footy novices. Mixed reviews, from us and from the Sydney critics, discussed the value of accurately reflecting the typical Australian loutish and lewd behaviour on stage (ie what can be gained from it apart from appealing to base humour?) and dispelling the myths of men in sport. Neither Broun’s 10 000 Beers nor Swenson’s Kookaburras successfully dispel any of the myths or media hype (both perpetuate the myths and reinforce the stereotypes), however; the latter tries harder. Without offering an answer, in Kookaburras, we take a look at male identity, feminine and masculine roles in society, pack mentality, the notion of mateship, male depression, homophobia and homoeroticism. This piece could start with Act 3 and delve deeper into some of these issues.

Image by Kate O’Sullivan.

Don’t become convinced to amalgamate roles and reduce the cast.”

If I were producing, I would want the roles amalgamated and the cast size reduced. Why not cast fewer actors who can capably play multiple roles? (Some of the actors in this production, unfortunately, struggle to believably portray just one). In its current form, Kookaburras is positively Chekhovian and it need not be. We might get to know the characters a little better and care a little more for them, if we see fewer of them, in greater detail, for (just a little bit) longer.

The strongest of the three acts, the final boasts the best acting of the night and allows us to get to the bottom of the story and understand more about the lives and motives of a couple of the characters. It’s what we’ve been waiting for! The mystery is solved but nothing is really resolved. Men (particularly men involved in sport) are still a mystery and will continue to behave badly, despite their private revelations and their efforts to nurture healthy relationships and a noble – or something – identity. What is it to be a man? Well, I don’t know. And I don’t think you’ll know either, from seeing this play but at least you’ll be challenged to think on it and discuss the big issues with some mates over a few beers.

09
Jun
12

2012 One-Act Play Festival

One-Act Play Festival

The 3 Finalists of the National One-Act Playwriting Competition

Noosa Longweekend & Noosa Arts Theatre

7th – 16th June 2012

Three Angry Brides

by Hugh O’Brien

Directed by Janine Ritchie

A ridiculous premise prepares us for the witty, cheeky chaos that ensues when three about-to-be-married couples are required to complete a “divorce course” before their nuptial day on the coming Saturday; the same day the visiting Reverend Hill has a golf game booked. Clearly, he is hoping they’ll all fail his unorthodox tests so he will get his golf game in.

John Woodlock (Reverend Hill) sets the pace and drives much of the dialogue in this 40-minute comedy. Noosa audiences most recently saw Woodlock as the marriage celebrant in Travelling North. This role, as the Reverend, gives him the opportunity to flesh out that “type” of character (and to flash a bit a lot of leg but I won’t give away the context). In addition, he is able to add a couple of funny traits to delight and amuse (and inspire some to cackle, yes, truly cackle with laughter on opening night!). Playwright, Debra Chalmers (author of the third play in the program), says what motivates her is “that wonderfully addictive sound of a laughing audience.” It’s contagious too, so you might find yourself LOLing almost immediately, when those around you begin to giggle. I’m a big fan of Hugh O’Brien’s work and it’s largely due to this ability, to set up very quickly, usually within the first three or four minutes, his characters and a clear plot so that no one is left wondering who anybody is or what will happen in the end. That’s not to say that the ending is spoilt or that there are no twists or surprises. If you’ve seen any of his award-winning plays in this competition (the winner in 2005 and 2007) or on the festival circuit, you’ll know what I mean.

Woodlock is supported exceptionally well by Nathan Hynes (Lex), who underplays appropriately while everybody else – an extremely young cast it seems – over-acts to the max. Interestingly, Adele Comber (Toraino. That’s Torana, you know, like the car, with an “i” added) notes in her bio that this is typical for her. Unlike Kate Perry (Laurel), at least she admits it. Comber shows us some nuance towards the end of the play and this is the interesting aspect of both the character and the actor. I look forward to seeing more from her. Steve Mitchell (Tom), as her significant other, brings a welcome shot of energy to the ensemble.

Rachel Halverson (Kylie), whom I recently saw in Peta Beattie’s 1912 – Titanic (BYTE Master Class Actors), is an absolute delight to watch. We’ll see her again in September on the Noosa Arts Theatre stage, as Louisa in The Fantasticks. She plays opposite Callum Hamacek (Kade) and there is something very sweet and absolutely terrifying about this young love, as if they are out to sabotage the relationship as a test of truth. In fact, that’s where the plot weaves, the Reverend offering each couple the chance to hurl insults at each other, call the ex up and ask them to dish up the dirt on their partner and finally, to toss into the wheelie bin, anything from childhood that may have played a part in destroying their ability to establish and maintain a responsible, loving, giving, “grown-up” relationship into which children will be welcomed and remain physically and emotionally unharmed. It’s symbolic, of course it is (it’s a PLAY. It’s the THEATRE.) but we get it. Yes! Yikes! Suddenly the context gets heavy and the audience feels they should perhaps consider the state of their own relationship, their own mental and emotional health and that of their children! It’s clever writing and in more experienced hands, this play could move a few to tears after all that jolly laughter.

Jannine Ritchie has directed O’Brien’s work before. If she is to do so again, what I’d love to see her do is to let her actors find a natural connection with each other and work on really listening hard to each other, as if it’s the first time the lines have been uttered. It’s the first time we’ve heard the lines uttered! No pre-empting lines next time! How wonderful to see so many new, fresh faces, from right across the coast, working on the Noosa stage with seasoned performers as their mentors.

The Boy in the Cardboard Box

by Rainee Skinner

Directed by Sue Clapham

There’s an open coffin – actually, it’s a cardboard box, just as Johnny wanted, with pencils and felt pens and feathers and glitter and glue laid out – on the table in the dining room and three friends arrive early to pre-funeral drinks. Awkward. Aunty Jane (Eileen Walder) offers tea but this crowd prefers vodka. And they’re going to need it. Everybody loved Johnny but nobody really knew him…until the friends compare notes.

Stephen Moore plays a wonderfully gay actor friend of Johnny’s. I was waiting for him to burst into song (“Keep it gay, keep it gay, keep it gay!”) but he didn’t. Actually, I think he may have sung a snippet of something else but it was certainly not a refrain from The Producers. As Alan (not just “one of the Alans but the ORIGINAL Alan!”), his language is poetic and appropriately OTT, considering his decadent, self-indulgent Sydney life. He joins Kate (Tania Nash), who was a friend of Johnny’s from the bank and Angela (Gail Evans), who is another actor friend.  Nash gives us some terrific vocal work and Evans has wonderful stage presence so between them we get a great performance.

I know the playwright was worried that this production would turn out to be a big old “word fest” and without more confident actors her fears may have been proved right. It IS a wordy play that might work better if the director and cast were allowed to take the red pen to it (as it happens, this is not allowed but should be a consideration in continuing discussions about the development of the festival. See below INTERVAL – SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT) and it is very static in its direction, however; I’m sure the pace will pick up and lines will be spot on now that the initial opening night jitters have been dealt with.

Skinner’s is the least tightly constructed of the three scripts and the best example of why this festival needs a shake-up. Yes! It’s time!

 

INTERVAL OR SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT

 

One night last year, some of us discussed the pros and cons of a couple of changes to the festival (until the wee small hours of the morning) and now we need to see some sort of formal process facilitated. By that I mean we need to tell somebody else so that the ideas can be discussed at a bigger table. So I’m telling you. And you can all talk about it and email the committee and bring about change. Mostly because we’re too busy this year to have the same discussion for so long without doing something about it but also because everyone’s a winner when the playwright, during the rehearsal process, is allowed to make changes to the text.

WOAH!

I know. It’s pretty radical. But imagine if we could assess the playwriting first (keep those results secret) and then allow the director and the actors – with or without the playwright present in the rehearsal room (works for some but not for others. There’s always Skype for a notes session) – and work on the play as a living, breathing, working script in preparation for a paying audience. That way, without impeding the assessment of the writing, the play could be improved as a production. I would suggest that the same reading panel and the same adjudicator see the play on its feet, exactly as it’s written, without changing a thing first. Then, having assessed each play on its merits as a written piece that can be got up on its feet, they hand over to the director, who is then given free reign with the play, just like any director who has acquired the rights to perform any play. If we assume that scenario, the playwright might suggest in the script that a certain piece of music be used. If, according to the director, there is a more suitable piece of music available, why not let them use it? David Williamson stipulated specific pieces of music in Travelling North and in the Noosa Arts Production earlier this year, the director, in consultation with the sound designer, agreed that for his interpretation of the production, the suggested pieces were the best they could use. He could very well have used something entirely different.

I’m not saying the audience even knows or cares how much a play has been re-interpreted. Unless it’s well known – and let’s face it, these are not; it’s the first time we’ve seen any of them – a director can do whatever he or she sees fit to tell the playwright’s story.

What does this mean for the longest-running playwriting competition on the Sunshine Coast? It means that

For The Playwright

  • The playwright will write their play, submit it and have it read and assessed on its merits as a written text
  • The playwright will see their play performed as it is (no changes) in the first instance
  • The playwright will have the option to join the director and the actors in the rehearsal room to continue refining their text, re-writing dialogue as they see fit, if it will help to clarify the story for an audience who has never read or seen the play before
  • The playwright will experience seeing their play pre and post rewrites, which (tell me, writers, if I’m wrong), seems a very valuable part of the writing process

For The Director

  • The director will read the 3 finalists’ scripts and be allocated a play to work on.
  • The director will cast the play and have it “on its feet” for a well-rehearsed reading, which the reading panel and the adjudicator see and assess. (Actors, that means you would really nearly know your lines straight away!)
  • The director will work on the play with the actors and the playwright, if there is a need for change. If there are no changes made, happy days.

For The Actors

  • The actors get to work with the director and the playwright on producing the best possible piece of live theatre for a paying audience
  • The actors get to experience the rehearsal process as it should be: a fun, exciting, challenging time to keep them on their toes and turn out their best possible work

For the Audience (no change except to attend a more entertaining event)

  • The audience will enjoy the three finalists’ plays
  • The audience will vote on their favourite production

What else does it mean?

It means we need more (good) directors.

Here’s the Thing…

by Debra Chalmers

Directed by Jane Rivers

It will be no surprise to see this play win the Nancy Cato Audience Choice Award. It’s fast, funny and it’s the final play of the night. Two sisters wake up after a big night out in Brisbane and find a young man asleep on their lounge. They don’t know how he got there and they can’t wake him so they hide him…before Mum arrives! Mayhem follows and the story goes in a completely different direction to what you might be expecting, certainly the opposite of what I was expecting. I was expecting to hear and perhaps see re-enacted, the possible scenarios from the night before and perhaps never know the truth. Clearly, there’s potential for another play because that’s not at all what we have here. The ending wraps up the loose ends very neatly and, although we’re supposed to wonder about exactly what it was that Caroline (Jodie Bushby) got up to, there is no misinterpreting Bushby’s beautifully candid delivery of the final line. Thank goodness we have her naturalism and good sense on stage. She balances nicely, the hysterics of her sister, Amanda (Jenni McCaul). Nicole (Ebony Hamacek) is the slightly bemused but mostly horrified daughter of Amanda and Constance (Sue Sewell) the – eventually – drunk mother of Amanda and Caroline.

Director, Jane Rivers, has allowed for plenty of fun physical theatre and a good deal of over-acting from the majority of players, particularly in terms of response time and facial expressions, making this, for me, the six year old and a large number of audience members on opening night, the most entertaining play of the evening.

If you’ve never ventured out to see the National One-Act Playwriting Competition finalists at Noosa Arts Theatre or you haven’t yet enjoyed the newly renovated foyer and amenities, this is a great opportunity to do so. There are no really heavy overtones, no deep and meaningful moralistic tales or lessons, just good, clean fun. Sometimes that’s all we need to see.

Of course, if you’re after something a little darker after the one-acts, be sure to book your tickets to see Erotique, also part of the Noosa Longweekend program and showing over 3 nights only, on June 21st, 22nd and 23rd. Strictly adults only, Erotique will get you thinking…and talking…and feeling all sorts of things about sex and our attitudes towards it. Check out Profile mag’s interview with Director, Sam Coward.

And if you’re looking for something fun to throw the kids into, register for my acting workshops on June 16th and 17th (the first one on Saturday is free)! On Sunday, I’ll be working with older kids on audition skills and making first impressions.

Download the Noosa Longweekend program and book online http://noosalongweekend.com

Hugh O’Brien, Rainee Skinner & Debra Chalmers