Archive for the 'Writing' Category

22
Aug
17

an artist’s statement

 

artist’s statement 2017

 

everything is delicately interconnected…

 

 

 

 

 

You might remember that I went back to school this year.

 

In March I started a Master of Professional Practice (Performing Arts) at USC, but at The J, Noosa, since there are no performing arts facilities on campus at Sippy Downs. We won’t discuss that today.

 

 

The assessment for this week, to create an Artist’s Book within which we share our Artist’s Statement, would have to be one of our most challenging tasks yet. I just danced nearly naked in Japan, started weekly physical training sessions with Zen Zen Zo, started running again, and chose a monologue that breaks my heart to deliver, but this Artist’s Statement! To actually pause and recognise what it is we do, the way we create our work, and why…

 

My contemporary creative practice continues to evolve. As performer, director and producer, I’m enjoying exploring new forms and content of a different kind, a darker kind, which I’ve stayed away from in the past, or have been advised to stay away from. (Can you imagine being told today not to go near mental health issues, domestic violence and ideation?). I’m less concerned now about what others consider to be too dark or dangerous or disruptive. The shadow aspects of human nature reveal a more interesting version of the truth, which we crave. The ancient stories hold the lessons we don’t see in reality television, social media memes or smash hit musical comedies.

 

 

My practice is undertaken in a commercially viable context, admittedly teetering at times between what might easily be sold and the stories demanding to be told. Inspired by some of our most innovative dance artists and directors, including Frantic Assembly, Nicholas Hytner, Katie Mitchell, Marianne Elliot, Margi Brown Ash and Natalie Weir among other giants, my work is immediate, intimate and highly evocative, inviting the audience to engage on a sensory, and emotional and intellectual level to work out their place in the world in a new and unique way. Drawing from contemporary dance, butoh, original compositions by the likes of Max Richter, Philip Glass and Leah Barclay, and ritualistic storytelling and performance elements after deep research into the Ramayana, Buddhism and the myths and stories of the cantidoras, I bring the performers and audience together to experience the life of the “other”, hidden within. I offer actors and audiences the opportunity to get out of their own way to experience the less-shared moments, to see in themselves what’s possible and deplorable; the pallid skin and quiet nakedness of terminal illness, the dismantling of a relationship, the subversion of sexual preference or pleasure, the long-term impact of self-loathing…

 

The investigation of both content and form occurs collaboratively, organically, on the floor from a place of emptiness, a place in time and space in which anything is possible because we welcome it.

 

The performers already have the answer; their first instinct is closest to the truth. As director, I entrust the performers with the transformational task of telling the story, scaffolding their discoveries within an open intuitive process, and shaping a sensory experience for actors and audiences fusing visual, auditory and physical elements to heighten our awareness of the world. The process is fluid and flexible, and informed by our personal and broader views of our part in the story and our place in the world.

 

Small great things are the result of collaborative creative thinking, boldly dreaming and fearlessly doing.

 

 

The golden eclipse week has offered the ideal context in which to consider my artistic practice and the way I wish to continue to develop my approach to collaboratively creating performing arts pieces that have lasting impact on actors and audiences.

 

If the experience is not sensory, insightful and transformational, why have we made the work? And for whom?

 

I continue to reframe my world, to look with new eyes on the ordinary, to listen to old stories for new meaning and uncover the hidden aspects of human nature, to add a voice to the darkness. I’m humble enough to keep learning and bold enough to take a leap. By making this Artist’s Statement public I’m committing to my evolution and my continued efforts to make the long-term goal worthwhile. My practice should continue to contribute to the transformation of artists and audiences on multiple levels, or what am I doing?

 

 

Informed by my training, my teaching practice, my performance experience and personal experiences of live performance, and by the work and differing philosophies of a vast network of industry professionals and creative friends, as well as being aware of my privilege, my practice focuses on the immediacy and urgency of the storytelling. In a world that is increasingly complex and demanding of our attention, I hope my artistic practice offers actors and audiences a thread.

 

Artist: Kirsty Whitlock

 

Artist: Lynn Skordal

 

XS Entertainment is a catalyst for creative change with a history of daring and disruption, and as performer, director and producer, I’m a conduit, able to be completely emptied – as Akaji Maro describes, a butoh “skin bag” – ready to channel and configure the ensemble’s ideas during the devising process, or come to the table overflowing with ideas and ways into the work using sound, light, visual art, literature, movement, and our connection with the darkness that otherwise remains undiscovered.

 

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01
Sep
15

Brisbane Writers Festival – Minds Wide Open

 

bwf15_header

 

We’re challenged this year to keep our minds wide open at Brisbane Writers Festival! #bwf15

 

Bright, curious minds will be connected for a city wide conversation. Festival Director/CEO Julie Berveridge said, “BWF continues its proud history of connecting writers, artists, thinkers and innovators this year.

 

“BWF will create a vibrant forum, along with the time and space to deep-dive for ideas.”

 

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The Brisbane Writers Festival has held the place of Queensland’s premier literary event for over a decade. It brings the world of writing and ideas to Brisbane, and showcases the best of local, national and international writing to Brisbane, and to the world. For five days in September each year the festival takes over the spectacularly re-developed State Library of Queensland (next to the iconic Gallery of Modern Art and Queensland Art Gallery) in the South Bank cultural precinct alongside the Brisbane River. Book for all ticketed events here. Don’t forget the many FREE events. There is truly something for everyone at this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival.

 

possummagic_cupcakes

Possum Magic cupcakes by Megan Daly childrensbooksdaily.com

 

 

Alphabet Zoo is back! BWF’s program for young children and families is back!

 

Explore Mem Fox’s world of Possum Magic in the arts and crafts play-scape!

 

 

WED 2 – SUN 6 SEPTEMBER
10.00AM – 4.00PM
STATE LIBRARY OF QUEENSLAND
FREE

 

 

diy-young-adult-book-character-halloween-costumes-2013-clary

Are you a Young Adult fiction fan? Dress the part! Get Lily Collins’ Shadowhunter style.

 

Celebrating all things YA, Love YA! brings together fans, readers and writers of YA fiction to talk about love, community and Shadowhunters. From how to be happy to how to get published, Love YA! has you covered. Cosplay encouraged!

 

SAT 5 SEPTEMBER
12.00 – 7.00PM
BRISBANE SQUARE LIBRARY
FREE

 

David-Burton

 

Tuesday September 2 (9:45am – 10:30am)

& Sunday September 6 (1pm – 2pm)

David Burton’s funny, sad and serious memoir of his journey through adolescence, How To Be Happy, tackles the big teen topics and shows young people that even if they feel different or awkward during high school, everyone can find their true self, follow their dreams and be happy!

 

 

Check out where we’ll be during the festival via Twitter and Instagram – follow @BrisWritersFest & @xsentertainment #bwf15

 

 

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Thursday September 3 – Opening Address

Jon Ronson is a curious man. Here he investigates festivals, and their audiences. What it means to engage and the dizzying highs and sobering lows of entering a conversation with your mind wide open.

Author of The Psychopath Test, Men Who Stare At Goats, and most recently So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Jon opens this year’s festival with his trademark investigative satire, taking a can opener to the brain, he tilts the lid in a bit to disguard and strain its juice.

 

 

 

RamonaKoval

 

Friday September 4 (3:30pm – 4:30pm)

Imagine waiting for your parents to pass away in order to investigate a suspicion that the man who raised you wasn’t your biological father. Ramona Koval did just that. She talks with Fiona Stager about her quest to find the truth about her parentage and what she discovered about herself in the process.

 

 

 

 

lauriepenny

Friday September 4 (5pm – 6pm)

It’s a tough time to be a woman on the internet. Over the past two generations, the political map of human relations has been redrawn by feminism and by changes in technology. In this brave new world, old-style sexism is making itself felt in new and frightening ways. In Cybersexism, Laurie Penny goes to the dark heart of the matter and asks why threats of rape and violence are being used to try to silence female voices, analyses the structure of online misogyny, and makes a case for real freedom of speech – for everyone.

 

 

 

Jon-Ronson1

Friday September 4 (6:30pm – 7:30pm)

Ever made a joke on Twitter that came out wrong and as a consequence been torn apart by a crazed mob? Or been part of a crazed mob tearing someone apart for telling a joke on Twitter? Jon Ronsonhas spent the past three years with people who have, and now he’s ready to tell the tale. Hilarious and powerful, this is an illustrated one-man show about the renaissance of public shaming, and our very scary part in it. Following Jon’s wildly successful book The Psychopath Test, this time around we are the crazy people.

 

 

abdiaden

 

Saturday September 5 (10am – 12pm)

Barbara Arrowsmith Young defied all odds and changed her brain. Abdi Aden arrived in Australia with no family, no money, no education and overcame. Li Cunxin believes that if we strive, we will succeed. Be inspired by three very different stories that show us if we want change our lives, the power is within us.

 

 

 

 

Sarah-Waters

Saturday September 5 (11:30am – 12:30am)

From Jane Eyre and Hester Prynn to Hermione Granger and Katniss Everdeen, literature has known some fine leading ladies. Who are the greatest heroines of all time, and how do their contemporaries stack up today?

Sarah Waters, Jane Caro, Kate Grenville and Sophie Hannah debate the women we’ve grown to love, laud, obsess over and idolise, and how characters and writers can help us be the heroines of our own lives.

 

 

anne-buist

 

 

Saturday September 5 (1pm – 2pm)

What makes sex in fiction so sexy? What is the difference between romance and erotica, erotica and porn? Anne Buist, Krissy Kneen and Susan Johnson explore experiences of human connection and discuss representations of relationships and sex in literature.

 

 

 

 

JESSICA-ROWE

 

Saturday September 5 (2pm – 3:30pm)

Naomi Alderman created Zombie Run, an app for people who struggle to engage with exercise, Jessica Rowe has endured a career in the spotlight and Andy Jackson was born with Marfan’s Syndrome. What do these three have in common? They all love their body.

 

 

 

 

JESSICA-ROWE

Sunday September 6 (11:30am – 12:30pm)

Journalist, celebrity, television presenter, author, ambassador for beyondblue, Member of the Order of Australia, passionate mother and wife, Jessica Rowe is an extraordinary woman. Jessica Rowe discuss her memoir Is this My Beautiful Life?, love, motherhood, career, and the idea of ‘having it all’.

 

 

 

 

anne-buist

Sunday September 6 (1pm – 2pm)

With over 25 years experience in perinatal psychiatry, Anne Buist works with Australia’s legal services in real-life cases of abuse, kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Join Anne in conversation about mothers who kill and her new psychological thriller, Medea’s Curse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sjon

Sunday September 6 (4pm – 5pm)

Some of the greatest stories ever told are from so far back we no longer know if they are fact, fiction, or something far more mysterious. Join authors Sjón, Holly Black, and Kelly Link, who bend genres and borrow from myth, as they talk with Angela Slatter about the tales that continue to enchant and haunt us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday September 6 (5:30pm – 6:30pm)

The Chaser’s Chris Taylor and Andrew Hansen present an unsparing send-up of every earnest “In Conversation” you’ve ever had to sit through. The inept moderator, temperamental microphones, and inane audience questions… all this and more will greet the famously prickly genius Lionel Corn as he takes the stage to discuss his life’s work.

 

 

See you at Brisbane Writers Festival!

 

 

 

11
Aug
15

Entries Open for Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2016-17

 

Entries now open for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award 2016-17

 

 

Continuation of page-to-stage award celebrates Queensland talent

 

 

premiersdramaaward

 

Australia’s only playwriting award that guarantees a professional production of the winning entry within two years has opened for nomination, as part of a long and successful partnership between the Queensland Government and the Queensland Theatre Company (QTC).

 

Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Queensland Government had maintained its serious and ongoing commitment to the arts by calling for entries for the Queensland Premier’s Drama Award (QPDA) 2016-17 and celebrating previous winners who had seen their works developed and transformed into professional productions.

 

“Since its inception in 2002, QTC has developed 24 plays as part of this award, employed more than 160 actors, writers and directors, and generated audiences of more than 26,000 to new and emerging Queensland work. This is an excellent result for the Queensland arts industry,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

 

Queensland Theatre Company Artistic Director Wesley Enoch said the awards had helped discover some exceptional storytellers who had introduced Queenslanders to a variety of narratives that were sometimes complex and confronting.

 

danielevans_theweekendedition

 

“Daniel Evans won last year’s award with his modern Australian-suburbia-meets-Greek-tragedy Oedipus Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, following the 2012-13 winner Maxine Mellor’s controversial character play Trollop, chosen from a field of 83 entries from across the country,” Mr Enoch said.

 

The award covers a two-year cycle. In the first year, three finalists are selected and their works undergo creative development with industry professionals prior to judging and the announcement of the winner. The second year involves further development of the winning play followed by the professional world premiere production and the publication of the script.

 

The deadline for this year’s submissions is Friday 30 October 2015 with three finalists selected in December 2015. The winning entry is announced in the second half of 2016. Groups, as well as individual artists are encouraged to apply.

 

oedipus_drapl

 

Previous winners include:

 

2014-15 Daniel Evans for OEDIPUS DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

 

2012-13 Maxine Mellor for TROLLOP

 

2010-11 Marcel Dorney for FRACTIONS

 

2008-09 Richard Jordan for 25 DOWN

 

2006-07 David Brown for THE ESTIMATOR

 

2004-05 Adam Grossetti for MANO NERA

 

2002-03 Sven Swenson for ROAD TO THE SHE-DEVIL’S SALON

 

The conditions of entry and entry form can be obtained by visiting Queensland Theatre Company’s website at www.queenslandtheatre.com.au or by contacting the Producer of New Work and Development on 07 3010 7607

 

25
Jun
15

Introducing Katy Cotter

 

Welcome Katy!

 

 

You may know Katy from Dust Covered Butterfly and Awkward Conversation.

 

 

katycotter_butterfly

 

Hello. My name is Katy Cotter and I am a Brisbane-based actor and writer.

I recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Creative and Professional Writing at Queensland University of Technology.

 

Writing is a new lover of mine but acting has always been my passion. Being the youngest of five children and having a significant age gap between my siblings and me, my childhood consisted of embracing my vivid imagination and transforming the backyard into faraway worlds.

 

In 2009 I graduated from Southbank Tafe with an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Acting. Since then I have worked with independent companies, having been involved in Daniel Evans’ theatre marathon, Awkward Conversation last year. Recently, I wrote and performed in Dust Covered Butterfly at Metro Arts. The creative team and I had been working on the show for the past three years and finally saw all of our hard work culminate in a three-week season.

 

DCB_katycotter_killer

 

To pay the bills I work for Creative Brisbane, a distributing company, supporting and advertising upcoming shows for major and independent companies in Brisbane. We also have a What’s On Guide each month for which I write the profile, and have interviewed a variety of talented people.

 

I am so excited to join the XS Entertainment team to develop my writing and witness groundbreaking theatre and performance.

 

Brisbane is producing some great works and I am lucky to call some of those artists my friends. I love and support the arts just as I love and support good coffee. As should we all! So look out for my upcoming reviews and follow me on Twitter for news, or if you also have a fierce obsession with Tom Hiddleston.

 

Images by Morgan Roberts

 

27
Apr
15

Brisbane

 

Brisbane

Queensland Theatre Company

QPAC Playhouse

April 11 – May 2 2015

 

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

 

 

I am absolutely sure – 100% sure – that it (the break down in the development of new Australian works) cannot be solved by just trying to pick winners. I don’t think that that is a viable strategy for horse racing let alone for playwriting. You need some deeper philosophical, political, social and artistic sense of what drama is if you’re going to encourage and develop Australian drama into its next diverse and myriad-formed existence.

Julian Meyrick

 


brisbane_dashkruck

 

 

Drama is like the minute hand of the clock.

Julian Meyrick

 

 

I’ve been thinking about who you are, reading this blog, with pieces that are sometimes so sporadically posted I wonder that you come back at all, and I wonder what you’re seeing in between visiting here. And what does it matter, and what should become of it… I’ve been thinking about not writing but I have to, even when the process of writing something about a show sometimes takes longer than the run of a show. I love the process. I love considering what might be worth mentioning and what might be better left unsaid. I love living through the productions and reliving that journey after the curtain comes down. I love the theatre, the people involved, and this place, where I can share my experience with you, whoever you are, whatever it is you’re here for. I’m not sure what else to do with it – perhaps you have some ideas – and I keep deferring developing this site, and further study and a second blog purely for writing because I’m not sure what to do with all of THAT, what shape everything needs to take, or what any of it will do for me, or for you, but I keep coming back here, as you do, to keep some sort of quiet conversation going, perhaps just so it doesn’t stop.

 

 

{What happens when you have authority speaking about what happens in the theatre?}

We must have a cultural memory.

Alison Croggon

 

 

Over a week ago I saw Matthew Ryan’s Brisbane. Since opening night, I’ve been thinking about how we teach our children about war. It was always the part of studying ancient and modern history that I couldn’t understand. I still don’t understand it. I try to convey the respect and gratitude I feel for those who went to war to protect our right to live in a country of freedom and privilege. I have mixed feelings about teaching the pride part. I’m not even sure how I feel about my grandfather’s role in the war. This week I joined the family at his funeral, which included a full soldier’s farewell, and then I joined the local community at a traditional ANZAC Day commemorative service, sans Welcome to Country and frustratingly prayer fuelled. Okay. I know. We’re still a nation commanded by God. I should get over it. But WAR. LEARNED HATRED. FORCED, RELENTLESS, USELESS KILLING. WTF?

 

Over 30 000 Australian servicemen were taken prisoner in the Second World War. Two-thirds of those taken prisoner were captured by the Japanese during their advance through south-east Asia within the first weeks of 1942. While those who became prisoners of the Germans had a strong chance of returning home at the end of the war, 36 per cent of prisoners of the Japanese died in captivity.

 

mervhenrygrulke

 

My grandfather, Merv Henry Grulke, was a Sparrow Force guerilla soldier and a (POW) Changi survivor. He was three years off receiving his telegram from the queen when he died last week, just six months after my grandma left us. It’s a well-deserved rest for someone who, like so many, endured years of physical and mental anguish during and after the Second World War. During, after any war…

 

Brisbane, 1942: a big country town jumping at shadows, never knowing if that buzz in the air is a cicada or a squadron of merciless Japanese Zeroes. World War II took the city’s innocence, and that of 14-year-old Danny Fisher.


Danny’s dashing pilot brother has been killed in the Bombing of Darwin. As Danny’s devastated family unravels, the teen finds a surrogate sibling in Andy, one of the Americans stationed in Brisbane. The American pilot takes Danny under his wing, and as the tension begins to rise between the Yank and Aussie servicemen, Danny hatches a reckless revenge plan against those who took his brother.

 

Until I was four years old I lived in an old Queenslander just like fourteen-year-old Danny’s. (And then again during uni days, with actors, actually in Brisbane, but that’s another story). I don’t know if my memories of that first house in Emerald are from being there, or from the photos and stories stashed away in albums and minds since. I think I remember the smell of the dust, and spider webs and shadows and cricket balls and suitcases and appliances, and piles of things that didn’t belong anywhere else.

 

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Designer, Stephen Curtis has perfectly realised the freedom, the playful sense of growing up in an old Queenslander, recreating the immense space of the high ceilinged house and its nether regions beneath. The same space becomes the famous, much loved Brisbane dance hall, Cloudland, and later across the river, the Trocadero. Lit bewitchingly by David Walters, the house itself is full of potential and/or missed opportunity, an undercurrent of the play, and underneath exists a magical space where anything is possible. No missed opportunities here, the set is in synch with every aspect of the story. There are not too many main stage productions that get it THIS right.

 

There is a good side to not being crushed by culture… there’s a tremendous freedom in Australian performance and a huge intelligence, and a kind of disrespect that’s really healthy.

 

The air is thick and wet and the sun burns your skin like it hates your guts. January’s got it in for everyone. It has a temper that builds and builds, until it’s had enough of you and dumps a mountain of water and electricity on your head to end it quick. Then it starts over again. The smell of the dirt road mixes with the pong of dead fruit that falls from the trees. Houses sit on stilts, breathing the cool air beneath them. Street after street. Streets that make up suburbs. Suburbs that make up Brisbane…

 

I’m sure the haters will say, “Oh, C’MON!” but for me this is magnificent, evocative, poetic writing. I love it. I love the feeeeel of it, the energy of it, the cheeky pointers and the gentle, quiet gaps, which Matthew Ryan is confident to leave for director, designer, actors and audiences to fill. I loved Kelly (currently enjoying a national tour), and Brisbane now puts Ryan in a unique position as a writer in this country, sharing our cultural and historical stories in a way we haven’t yet heard. We’ve read something like it – there are similar insightful voices on the page – but his is a theatrical narrative voice that’s refreshing and magically real on stage (and it’s so suited to Australian film; I hope we see something on screen soon). It’s a more personal, more poignant, more cleverly critical style, supporting our fondest memories and challenging notions of what’s already been recorded. The balance of light and dark is just about perfect, and except for the thank-god-bless-us-and-bathe-us-in-light moment at the end, it strikes all the right chords. (Oh dear, but that major chord! That golden light through what might as well be stained glass windows! An eye roll moment indeed!).

 

The text highlights the national state of mind at the time, which reflected our notions of “mateship”, machismo, fearful and unforgiving parenting, and our attitudes towards war, women and foreigners.

 

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A comical “cringe” moment in the play (as in, “We probs shouldn’t be laughing at this”) serves to challenge our current notions too, and it reminds me of that terrible episode of Popeye, you know, The Sailor Man, which never aired but had been included in a DVD box set, which I innocently put on for Poppy one day. In Brisbane, the kids of the neighbourhood play at shooting down the Japanese, as kids were wont to do at the time. In the black & white classic series, Popeye defeats the entire Japanese army, referring to the enemy as “slant-eyed, buck-toothed, yellow-skinned Japansies”. By making light of the ugly truth about human nature it’s even more disturbing to recognise it! Still! Art is a mirror. Or a hammer… Yes. You’ve got to be carefully taught.

 

artisnotamirror_mayakovsky

 

 

There musn’t be one single discourse.

 

 

These characters are so familiar yet we are able to stay safely, emotionally, distant from them. It’s the comedy and the abstractness of the storytelling, switching between real events and what Danny sees is his world that challenges us to consider another point of view. It’s magic realism at play, and it’s not to say we don’t care about them – far from it – we feel deeply for Danny (Dash Kruck), who loses his older brother, Frank (Conrad Coleby perfectly double cast as the American ex-pilot, Andy), and for Frank’s father (Hayden Spencer at his most brutal best), who essentially loses both sons when Frank dies. As for the broken mother, Annie (Veronica Neave), we recognise her deeply personal grief and the embodiment of the women of the era; their ability to pick up the pieces, step into traditionally male roles and “get on with it” while their men either crumble around them or don’t return home. It’s not entirely surprising that it’s she who finally finishes a mini reno on Frank’s room. We see similar resilience in the “big sister”, Rose (Lucy Goleby, luminescent in this role).

 

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Kruck has been gifted the role of a lifetime in this production. Because Ryan has made the most of his knowledge of Kruck’s physicality and natural vocal cadence during the rehearsal process, the character, as it’s written, is a perfect fit. Under Iain Sinclair’s bold direction, Kruck clearly relishes the opportunity to stretch his wings. He is perfectly matched by the fierce and very funny Harriet Dyer as the best friend, the “cripple”, Patty. I adore Patty, in a way that I would never dare to in real life because I’d be terrified of her! Of course there have always been women learning on their own to be THAT strong (and THAT feared! Ha!). Kruck and Dyer and Goleby develop close connections that are highly entertaining and deeply moving. The moments of sexual awakening are hilarious and the unrequited love, treated so sensitively and tenderly, is actually heartbreaking.

 

brisbane_bullies

 

Our history has such dark moments but there is good, gorgeous, wicked humour here too; the comedy is intelligently written and unashamedly playfully delivered. So much of it comes from the familiar colloquialisms and the childish behaviour of the school bullies and the country’s politicians. We enjoy razor sharp parodies of the leaders at the time, like grotesque tongue-in-cheek comic strips brought to life. This comical theatrical style, thrown casually in amongst the rest, won’t please everybody but it’s a deliberate device; it highlights the propaganda of war and lightens the heavy mood. Matthew Backer, Daniel Murphy and Hugh Parker play these multiple roles (to the hilt!), alerting us to the similarities between the bullies in government and in the street.

 

cloudland_thesundaymail

 

Nothing is lost on the opening night audience. The first reference to Cloudland is a sentence completed in an anticipatory whisper by the audience before the actor can do so and there is an awesome moment of collective pride, the nodding and smiling of people in The Playhouse as they remember… It’s a magical moment – the magic of live theatre – and it’s not lost on those who weren’t there to see the real thing. We get it.

 

The mere presence of new Australian work is no guarantee of cultural health; it has to be Australian work that matters.

 

Dramaturg, Louise Gough, has obviously had a hand in making this work one that matters. It’s one thing to be making and staging new Australian work; it’s another thing entirely to be contributing to the canon of work that informs our history. These stories have come from the truth told by so many. We must keep hearing these stories, seeing them, sharing them. We must try to learn from them. History repeats itself because we don’t learn from it! I hope this is a version of our history you’ll get to experience before it finishes here. I’ll experience it again this week with our students, and I look forward to hearing (reading, marking…) their take on it.

 

What is not being said, what is not being written down, what is not recorded, what is not even noticed?

 

Slouch hats off to QTC’s World Premiere production of Matthew Ryan’s Brisbane; it’s set to become a true blue Australian classic. You must see it.

 

 

Additional quotes taken from AUDIO | STAGE Episode 2 Alison Croggon / Writing History

04
Aug
14

The breakdown you have when you’re not having a breakdown and why I need a break

 

Life is crazy.

 

We are busy.

 

Craaazy busy.

 

It’s not new news. We’ve always been busy. Sometimes I delight in it (I’m easily bored).

 

I often hashtag #crazybusy and #xsneverstops but I don’t often stop to contemplate the implications of this. The other day I hashtagged #xsneverstopsbutxsmightneedto

 

This is why.

 

Last week I crashed my car. I was tired, I was at a roundabout, I looked and then didn’t look again quite soon enough, and I hit the girl in front of me. She had gone to go and she stupidly/safely, thinking better of it, had suddenly stopped again. Fuck! I knew I had no insurance and I was about to discover that neither had she. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be near enough to hit her. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be too tired to drive. Ordinarily I would have listened to that little inner voice inside of me that said when I got out of bed that morning, “Do the school run and go back to bed. Enough already. Stop.” Instead, largely because I’ve always associated that little voice with the onset of a migraine, I blinked, dressed, continued to ignore the little voice sans migraine, and headed to yet another event that followed hot on the heels of our 10 days and nights of fabulous Noosa Long Weekend Festival events.

 

For the last few days, while my car has been out of action, I’ve been in Toowoomba, where my grandparents have lived for as long as I can remember. (Of course there is history beyond that, before the beginning of my memory, and it’s an interesting story but it doesn’t matter for the moment).

 

I used to think of Toowoomba as a town of schools and churches but now I realise it’s actually an aged care mecca.

 

xantheandmerv_selfie_august2014

 

My grandfather is 96 years old. My grandmother is 83. Grandpa still lives at home, and so did Grandma until she contracted pneumonia and suffered a serious fall last week, which put her into hospital and meant that the discussions about aged care facilities began again. Grandpa is actually still fairly “independent”. It’s as bewildering as it is impressive. He’s almost blind but he knows where everything is…as long as he’s in his own home. He sometimes spills the sugar when he’s making his tea but there is always somebody around at some stage to help clean it up.

 

coffeecup_grandmashouse

 

I should tell you, I’m very late to this party – the discussions actually began over five years ago – tentatively at first, and then, just two years ago, application forms were requested, facilities were visited and with great diplomacy and delicacy, the subject of moving to a care facility was broached again with Grandpa, who wouldn’t hear of it. Of course not. Stupid, really. What were they thinking? Or, in his words, I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE.

 

Last week Grandma suffered a fall and discovered that simply breathing was difficult. Mum and I have visited every day and each day, although there have been some ups and downs, she seems brighter and livelier, even “bubbly” and “ready to come home next week!” You can imagine the twinkle in Grandpa’s eye as he says this, knowing he wins, again. This, after so much talk (so many tears to hold back!), of not returning home but going into a home, and Mum’s sister, and Mum and I persisting with ongoing comparative studies of no less than eleven places in town (and well outside of it! “Highfields? Hmphf! Too far!”). Sometimes one of them will agree, “Oh yes, that does sound nice, doesn’t it?” And I feel like I’ve been here before. Oh wait. I have been. Different party, same theme, starring Sam’s mum. Good to have had a rehearsal. From one decision to another, and back again. It can drive a person crazy! The next part of the decision making process is obviously about letting go and taking a step back from the process itself. Ultimately, once again, the decision is rightfully Grandma’s and Grandpa’s. We might just need to change how we feel about giving them the space and time to work things out for themselves. To fumble with the remote control. To lose things, forget things. To spill the sugar. To see out their days in the comparative comfort of their own home…

 

xantheandena_august2014

 

Some of the homes are actually lovely and others are, well, best left out of the conversation. You can tell when you walk into a place, whether or not somebody you love might like to spend the rest of their days and nights there. There is the matter of design, décor, landscaping, meals prepared on the premises, coffee shops, colours, smells, and warmly lit (or not) corridors to consider. There are either happy, smiling people working there and living there, or there are not. There are fees. And there are admission processes. And then there is Centrelink. Since July 1 2014 a whole lot has changed, making it difficult for families and administrators to fill the rooms available. That’s right. The rooms are there but most places won’t admit a person until Centrelink has processed a particular portion of the paperwork, which could mean a wait time of up to 10 weeks. Meanwhile, there are rooms – empty rooms. And conflicting information and advice from each facility and government agency. It makes it all so much more difficult. Stop. Spoiler alert!

 

 

That leads me to letting you know that I’m bowing out for a bit. I’m continuing to rely on our wonderful team of reviewers to keep up with the Brisbane scene. I still love theatre, I love seeing the shows, and I love having the conversations about them, but I need to take care of a few other things at the moment, including family matters, our growing business (hooray!) and also, me. I’ll keep doing some teaching, which earns me more money than reviewing (ie some as opposed to none), I’ll keep posting the reviews our writers submit, and I might even stick around on social media. I still love Instagram. I’m going to let you know about our upcoming events, including the Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival (with special guest adjudicator Margi Brown Ash!), Keep Calm and Cabaret, and the launch of my sister’s book Dress, Memory and Brisbane Writers Festival. But this writer needs to get back to writing…and sitting and reading and dreaming, and drinking cups of tea with friends, and getting to know our child and her friends, and growing our food and talking with the chickens and walking on the beach.

 

I’ll see the things the Matilda Committee needs me to see and I’ll see the things I desperately want to see. It might not be your thing and for that I’m sorry, but not really, because I’m truly completely and utterly exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally drained. And frankly, I’m disappointed that you didn’t make it to see our recent things. They were really good. I know. Too busy. TOO FAR! (Insert the sigh of one who knows she is beaten by apathy more than by distance or time-poor existence). It’s okay. Really. You have your own stuff to work on too. Everybody, keep doin’ the work. There will always be someone (nearer) to see it.

 

If you’re a Brisbane based writer and lover of theatre do email me, or find me on Facebook or Twitter. We’d love to have you on board.

 

13
Jan
14

Sunshine Coast Arts January 4 2014

 

So you know I have this little column in the local paper, right?

 

When Synda Turnbull asked me to take this on in 2013 (she helped keep the arts pages plump for the ten years prior), I had a moment of quiet indecision and debate about artists working for free, but decided pretty quickly that the column needed to continue regardless of whether or not the publication can afford to pay, which seems to be the most prominent current issue again in discussions online and amongst artists in foyers and coffee shops. I accepted the challenge to fit something else into my week gratis, because the value of the weekly exposure of the arts on the Sunshine Coast is worth more to me than say, $100 each week to write it. You know I don’t make money from blogging about the arts, either, despite inspirational writers and business heads all around me, like Styling You’s Nikki Parkinson, working to achieve just that ever since she left print media and logged on! Maybe this is the year, although up until July we’re pretty busy making actual theatre again – I can tell you more soon but there’s a bit of stuff embargoed for another week or so. If you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram you’ll be the first to know.

 

Are you an artist working for free in some capacity? How’s that working for you?

 

A number of people suggested I post the columns here, so here they are. A bit of catch up first, and then I’ll post the copy each weekend. If you can pick up the paper on a Saturday, I suggest you still do that because of course there are a heap of arts stories that I’m not able to cover…

 

If you’re a Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance member with some copy and fantastic images for me, email xanthe@xsentertainment.com.au

 

SCD Arts Saturday January 4 2014

Xanthe Coward

 

themysterybus_MIB2013

 

In 2013 Sunshine Coast theatre got braver and bolder. Behind the scenes we saw some new systems put into place and some key people come and go. The Sunshine Coast Theatre Festival in August enjoyed its best ever attendance, and box office records were set for Noosa Arts Theatre. With Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance President, Sam Coward, at the helm for his third consecutive year, we enjoyed new confidence in untapped talent and in the rediscovery of some favourite performers, designers and technical operators. Noosa Arts Theatre’s acclaimed production of West Side Story, a September sell-out directed by Sam Coward, reminded us just how deep our local pool of talent is, and challenged preconceived notions surrounding community theatre, from its inception to its final curtain call.

 

The Sunshine Coast Theatre Alliance Season Launch Soirée is your next opportunity to rub shoulders with local theatre types and find out how you can be involved. Join the makers and lovers of local theatre at Noosa Arts Theatre on Saturday February 8 from 6pm. Limited tickets available. Bookings online livetheatre.com.au

 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Take the kids to this entertaining panto and have just as much fun. This traditional version of the classic fairy tale is directed by Susan Dearnley and runs for a strictly limited season at Noosa Arts Theatre January 4 – 19. All tickets just $12. Bookings online noosaartstheatre.com.au or call 5449 9343

 

Cinderella

While Cinderella searches for her true love, enjoy cheering the goodies and booing the baddies along the way. Directed by Mary Newton, BATS’ panto runs January 11 – 19. All tickets $12. Bookings online batstheatre.com or call 5445 2515

 

NT Live Screenings

 

Free Air Entertainment and Noosa Arts Theatre continue their screenings of Great Britain’s superb National Theatre productions with Othello January 10, Macbeth January 17 and The Habit of Art January 31. Bookings online noosaartstheatre.org.au or call 5443 9343

 

 

themysterybus_MIB2013-2014

 

Images – Men In Black (MIB) for SRT’s The Mystery Bus at Woodford Folk Festival 2013-1014. Images by XS Entertainment

 

 




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